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Cornell Universe

Two alumni win Nobel Prize in chemistry

Eric Betzig

Eric Betzig, M.S. '85, Ph.D. '88. See larger image

William Moerner

William Moerner, M.S. '78, Ph.D. '82. See larger image

Eric Betzig, M.S. '85, Ph.D. '88, and William Moerner, M.S. '78, Ph.D. '82, have shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry for groundbreaking achievements in optical microscopy.

Betzig, a researcher at the Janelia Farm Research Campus, part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, received his master's and Ph.D. in applied and engineering physics. Moerner, the Harry S. Mosher Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University, received his master's and Ph.D. in experimental physics. The two Americans shared the Nobel with German scientist Stefan Hell, the Nobel committee announced in October in Sweden.

example of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy

Example of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy. Image: Provided. See larger image

The three were honored for their work in super-resolved fluorescence microscopy, through which the pathways of individual molecules can be imaged inside living cells. The effects of their collective research breakthroughs are felt in many ways: from showing how molecules create synapses between nerve cells to the ability to track protein aggregation involved in diseases of the brain, such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, according to the Nobel release announcing the winners.

Working separately, Betzig and Moerner made key discoveries in single-molecule microscopy, which harnesses the ability to toggle the fluorescence of individual molecules. By imaging the same area multiple times and capturing the flow of a few interspersed molecules, the method can provide high-resolution images of single molecules at the nanoscale.

Sesquicentennial Commemorative Grove dedicated

dedication of Sesquicentennial Commemorative Grove

The new Sesquicentennial Commemorative Grove was dedicated in October. See larger image

Sitting on the upper rim of Libe Slope and physically aligned with the Arts Quad statues of Andrew Dickson White and Ezra Cornell is a new landmark on campus: The Sesquicentennial Commemorative Grove, which was formally dedicated in October as part of the Trustee Council Annual Meeting and Homecoming Weekend.

The ceremony took place at the fully accessible, 1,700-square-foot area, replete with trees and plantings, a timeline of key events in Cornell's history engraved into a walkway, and memorable quotes from Cornellians carved onto benches.

The New York City firm Weiss/Manfredi designed the grove.

The landmark was made possible through generous gifts by members of the Cornell Board of Trustees.

A tradition is born: The Big Red Pumpkin Regatta

At midday Oct. 4 on Beebe Lake beach under steady rainfall, eight teams of Cornellians scrambled to make final adjustments to their home-grown watercraft, decorating their boats – and themselves – with flowers, balloons, nylon rope and life jackets.

first-ever Big Red Pumpkin Regatta on Beebe Lake

Scene from the first-ever Big Red Pumpkin Regatta on Beebe Lake. See larger image

As the first-ever Big Red Pumpkin Regatta began, racers fought to gain control of their boats. Many ended up improvising – some forgoing oars and paddling with hands and feet, others dragging the pumpkin with them as they swam, laughing all the way.

Eight four-person teams competed in the 100-meter relay race along the Beebe Lake shore. The regatta, which featured hollow 200-pound pumpkins grown at the Dilmun Hill Student Farm, was hosted by Cornell Flotilla, a graduate student club, and organized by Peter DelNero, a Ph.D. student in the field of biomedical engineering, who hopes to create a lasting and fun Cornell tradition among students, alumni and faculty alike.

Elizabeth Garrett named 13th president of Cornell

Elizabeth Garrett, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Southern California, was named Cornell's 13th president Sept. 30. She will assume the presidency July 1, 2015. Current President David Skorton steps down June 30, 2015; he will become the next secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

As provost (2010-14), Garrett oversaw USC's College of Letters, Arts and Sciences as well as its School of Medicine and 16 other professional schools and several divisions. She previously served as USC's vice president for academic planning and budget; her scholarly interests include the legislative process, the design of democratic institutions, the federal budget process and tax policy.

Elizabeth Garrett, David Skorton and Robin Davisson

President-elect Elizabeth Garrett, left, with Cornell President David Skorton and his wife, Professor Robin Davisson, in Schoellkopf Stadium during Homecoming Weekend in October. See larger image

Before joining the faculty of USC, she was a professor of law at the University of Chicago where she also served as deputy dean for academic affairs. She received her B.A. in history with special distinction from the University of Oklahoma and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Before entering academics, Garrett served as budget and tax counsel and legislative director for Sen. David L. Boren (D-Okla.) and clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Garrett's husband, Andrei Marmor, is a professor of philosophy and professor of law at USC. They both will join the Cornell faculty with joint appointments in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Law School.

Cornellians on Garrett:

"Her talents, experience and vision make her the ideal choice to lead Cornell into its next 150 years."

– Jan Rock Zubrow '77, chair of the Executive Committee of the board of trustees and of the Presidential Search Committee.

"There are few universities in the world that are as complex and ambitious and as far-reaching as Cornell University. And that means we set our sights very high in terms of attributes that we require of somebody capable enough to lead Cornell into the next 150 years, and I could not be more certain that we've found the perfect person in Beth Garrett."

– Robert Harrison '76, chair of the board of trustees

"I congratulate the search committee on its terrific choice of Elizabeth Garrett as Cornell's 13th president. I look forward to working closely with her over the coming months to ensure a smooth transition and a successful start to what I am confident will be her exceptional tenure at Cornell."

– President David Skorton

"She's a natural fit for the school, and she is going to lead the institution extremely well."

– Ross Gitlin '15, student trustee who served on the search committee

"The academic reviews of her scholarly work were unprecedented and stunning. She was the unanimous decision by the committee. We only had to take one vote. It was clear."

– Peter Nolan '80, MBA '82, trustee

Garrett on Cornell:

"Cornell has been fundamentally shaped by its founders' lasting vision of a university dedicated to inclusion, to egalitarianism and public engagement. I found that vision compelling. It resonates with my own work and my life.

"Just as Cornell has been acknowledged as the first American university, I am confident that we are the American university that will help shape this century as an influential global presence in education."

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