Monday, March 21, 2016

Dr. Cato Laurencin Named PAW's "Tiger of the Week"

The Princeton Alumni Weekly named Dr. Cato Laurencin one of two "Tigers of the Week" in a blog post on March 2. Laurencin was honored as one of eight to receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation awards later this spring. The PAW blog noted,

Two alumni, Cato Laurencin ’80 and Michael Artin ’55, will receive presidential honors for their groundbreaking research. Laurencin has been selected as one of this year’s eight National Medal of Technology and Innovation honorees, while Artin is one of the nine National Medal of Science recipients. Also among the science honorees is Princeton ecology and evolutionary biology professor Simon Levin, whose research focuses on how large-scale patterns are maintained by small-scale behavioral and evolutionary factors at the level of individual organisms.
Laurencin ’80, a distinguished orthopaedic surgeon, was selected for his research on regrowing human tissue, including one innovative method for regrowing knee ligaments that was ranked among Scientific American‘s top 50 discoveries in 2007.
The technology medal will not be Laurencin’s first White House honor. He was the recipient of the Presidential Faculty Fellow Award under President Bill Clinton, and he also received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math, and Engineering Mentoring from President Barack Obama.
Laurencin has had an impressive road to success. After graduating from Central High School in Philadelphia and then from Princeton with a B.S.E. in chemical engineering, he simultaneously earned his M.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in biochemical engineering/biotechnology from MIT.
Today, in addition to his role as a groundbreaking researcher, Laurencin is a professor at the University of Connecticut and holds leadership roles for several scientific institutes. He also pays his success forward as a mentor for underrepresented students and young doctors.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

PAW Features Gen. Mark Milley, Tibor Baranski Jr.

Two class members, Gen. Mark Milley and Tibor Baranski Jr., are featured in the latest print and online editions of the Princeton Alumni Weekly.

Gen. Milley, the Army Chief of Staff, provided a Q&A in PAW's March 16 issue. The interview starts:

Is there a cultural divide between the military and Ivy League universities? 
It’s as much a geographic issue. The Army demographic is heavily weighted toward the Mountain West, the Midwest, the Deep South, and the Southwest. The two coasts are numerically underrepresented. As we move further into this century, the requirement for very technologically sophisticated, highly adaptive people is going to grow, and we’re missing out on the two parts of the country with very high education levels. 
I would like to see more students from the Ivy League serve; I think it’s healthy for the country. On the other hand, I think it’s overstated how few Ivy League graduates there are. It’s that people don’t know who they are.

On March 11, PAW published its "PAW Tracks" interview with Baranski titled "Citizen of the World." In it, Baranski discusses his family's move to Canada and then Buffalo, New York following the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Once in Buffalo, he attended a Catholic school with a strong foreign-languages program, which perfectly fit with his budding interest in languages, as he related:

The Asian languages were all taught by native speakers, and the selection was Japanese, Chinese, Hindi, Arabic, and Hebrew. I had a tremendous interest, for some reason, in learning both Japanese and Chinese. I started to learn Chinese in September 1969 at Calasanctius in Buffalo, N.Y. I recall one day coming home, as I was 11 years old at the time, and my father had asked me, “Young man, I understand that you have chosen Chinese instead of Latin or Greek. Why?” I explained to him that I thought it was a very ancient civilization [as an] old country [with a] long history and a lot of traditions and people, and so it was a very important country that merited study. So my father looked at me and said, “That’s fine, but please do take it seriously, and don’t quit after a few months.” So here we are in 1969 to now 46 years later. I took it quite seriously.

Baranski goes on to relate his move to Taiwan to study Chinese, and then his language studies at Princeton. The work paid off--he's been a Shanghai-based lawyer for many years, putting his language skills to excellent use.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Todd Beaney Releases New CD, "Come Dance With Me"

Todd Beaney’s new CD, titled “Come Dance With Me” and just released in March, features 10 of Beaney's compositions for contemporary jazz-rock sextet in a variety of styles and grooves. The band includes Beaney on keyboards, classmate Steve Wexler on bass, and several other accomplished New York area musicians.

The Uptown Horns are special guests on one track. Sophisticated writing, impassioned improvisations, and one surprise after another infuse this sparkling sextet offering. Check it out through Beaney's website or at, iTunes, or Amazon.

Gen. Mark Milley: I'll Buy Handguns With a Credit Card

Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley had some straight-shooting comments at the recent Future of War Conference about the military procurement process looking to replace the 30-year old sidearm carried by soldiers. Fox News reported:

Last August, the Pentagon launched its "XM17 MHS competition," in which gun manufacturers had the opportunity to present their best pistols for consideration to replace the current standard sidearm, which critics say does not have adequate stopping power. 
Milley said at the conference that the program is an example of a bureaucratic system that makes it overly complicated to get field equipment to soldiers on the frontlines in a timely matter. 
"We are trying to figure out a way to speed up the acquisition system," Milley said. "Some of these systems take multiple years, some of them decades to develop."
Milley also pointed out many issues and concerns with the MHS, particularly the $17 million price tag. 
"[A] 367-page requirement document. Why?" Milley asked the crowd. "Well, a lawyer says this, and a lawyer says that, and you have to go through this process and that process and you have to have oversight from this that and the other." 
"The testing -- I got a briefing the other day -- the testing for this pistol is two years," he added. "Two years to test technology that we know exists. You give me $17 million on the credit card, I'll call Cabela’s tonight, and I'll outfit every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine with a pistol and I'll get a discount on it for bulk buys."

Monday, March 7, 2016

Robert Klitzman Considers Whether Therapists Should Analyze Presidential Candidates

Robert Klitzman tackles an enduring issue in the coverage of political campaigns in an op-ed in today's New York Times. He asks, "Should Therapists Analyze Presidential Candidates?" His piece opened,

Not long ago, a journalist asked me what I thought, as a psychiatrist, of Donald J. Trump.
Many psychologists have been quick to offer diagnoses, calling him and other presidential candidates “narcissists,” and even providing thoughts about possible treatments.
I wondered what, if anything, to say. I’ve watched Mr. Trump on TV like everyone else, but never met him. So, I hesitated — for ethical reasons. The American Psychiatric Association (A.P.A.) prohibits its members from giving professional opinions about public figures we have not interviewed.

Klitzman provides the historical context for the APA position, going back to a magazine's survey of psychiatrists on the topic of Republic candidate Barry Goldwater during the 1964 campaign. Described in highly negative terms, Goldwater sued and one for libel. Klitzman tracks the history of the APA's "Goldwater Rule" and differing views on how broadly it applies to therapists beyond psychiatrists. Circling back to the inital query from the journalists, Klitzman notes,

To the journalist who contacted me, I thus explained the Goldwater Rule, and that I had not examined Mr. Trump, so could not say anything specific about him, but that, in general, egoism unfortunately motivates many presidential candidates. I said I hoped that would not impede them from acting in the public’s best interests — but that it was a danger.