Princeton Research Day 2017 introduces innovative work to new audiences
From Aristotle explained through the lens of a soccer match to a technique for measuring a human’s heart rate by using a webcam, the second annual Princeton Research Day served up a day full of intriguing findings from across the University.
The Thursday, May 11, event on campus featured more than 140 presentations by undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and other campus researchers from engineering, social sciences, natural sciences, humanities and the arts. Even a few high school students who work with campus researchers participated.
President Christopher L. Eisgruber, speaking at the day-ending awards presentation, said Princeton Research Day highlights a key aspect of the University’s mission.
“Research is obviously one of the things that distinguishes us in our mission,” Eisgruber said. “We aspire to contribute to the world through the research we do, the discoveries we make and the ideas we’re able to get out to the world. But it’s also an indispensable element of the teaching we do here.”
The event drew hundreds of students, faculty members and staff, who explored poster presentations throughout the first floor of Frist Campus Center and filled rooms for talks that reached across disciplines.
“This is a wonderful way of inviting the campus community and the community beyond campus to come and take a look at the very exciting range of research activities we have at Princeton,” said Pablo G. Debenedetti, dean for research and the Class of 1950 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science and professor of chemical and biological engineering.
The event was a collaborative initiative among the offices of the dean of the college, dean of the faculty, dean of the Graduate School and dean for research, with support from the Office of the Provost.
Valerie Wilson, a member of the Class of 2018 majoring in history, gave a 10-minute talk on her research on “plague searchers,” poor women employed to search dead bodies for signs of the plague in 17th-century London. The event offered her the opportunity to share her work with a new audience and to take a fresh look at it herself, she said.
“Presenting today really made me think about the wider context of what I’m doing in a way that research, or even presenting to other people studying history, doesn’t always lend itself to,” Wilson said.
Her session, titled “In and Around the Clinic,” also featured presentations by a graduate student in chemical and biological engineering on what happens when cells don’t divide, an undergraduate in neuroscience on efforts to increase the inclusion of women in random controlled trials, and a postdoctoral researcher on new approaches to fighting multidrug-resistant bacteria.
“I really liked the diversity of the presentations,” Wilson said.
Melanie Weber, a first-year graduate student in applied and computational mathematics, said she hoped Princeton Research Day would help her connect with others interested in her work on mathematical characterization of neural networks.
“It’s a good opportunity to talk about my work and maybe connect with some of the great mathematicians and neuroscientists here to get them interested in the methods so they can be applied to new data,” she said.
For Jonah Hyman, a member of the Class of 2020 who presented a theory on why big projects like New York City subway expansions always seem to run behind schedule, the event was a payoff for many lonely hours of research.“After all the time you spend looking through records and watching (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) board meetings, it’s nice to get your research out there,” he said.