Four Princeton professors elected to National Academy of Sciences

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Princeton University
April 29, 2020

Princeton professors Anne Case, Jennifer Rexford, Suzanne Staggs and Elke Weber have been named members of the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

They are among 146 scientists, scholars and engineers elected this year in recognition of their contributions to their respective fields.

Anne Case

Case, the Alexander Stewart 1886 Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Emeritus, has written extensively on health over the life course. Case, who directs the Research Program in Development Studies for the Department of Economics at the Woodrow Wilson School, worked for a decade on the social and economic impact of the AIDS crisis in Africa.

Case is also known for first sounding the alarm about the rise in “deaths of despair" from suicide, drugs and alcoholism among the American working class. She and Sir Angus Deaton, her co-author and husband, this year published a book on the subject, “Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism," from Princeton University Press.

Case has been awarded the Kenneth J. Arrow Prize in Health Economics from the International Health Economics Association for her work on the links between economic status and health status in childhood, and the Cozzarelli Prize from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for her research on midlife morbidity and mortality. She currently serves on the president's committees on the National Medal of Science and the Committee on National Statistics. She is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a fellow of the Econometric Society, and is an affiliate of the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit at the University of Cape Town. She also is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. Case received her Master in Public Affairs and her Ph.D. from Princeton. She has taught at the University since 1991. In 2011, she was awarded a President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching from Princeton.

Jennifer Rexford

Rexford is the chair of the Department of Computer Science and the Gordon Y.S. Wu Professor of Engineering. A leader in computer networking, she has focused on methods to improve and expand digital communications. Among other areas, she has contributed to advances in the Border Gateway Protocol, which enables communications across the many networks that form the internet. She also helped establish methods to improve the design and control of networks at multiple levels.

Rexford joined the Princeton faculty in 2005 after eight and a half years at AT&T Research. She received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Princeton, followed by master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of Michigan. Among other honors, she is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, which awarded her the 2004 Grace Murray Hopper Award for outstanding young computer professionals.

She is also affiliated faculty in the Center for Information Technology PolicyElectrical Engineering, the Program in Applied & Computational Mathematics, the Princeton Environmental Institute, and the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies. In 2011, she received a Graduate Mentoring Award from Princeton’s McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning.

Suzanne Staggs

Staggs, the Henry Dewolf Smyth Professor of Physics, is an experimental physicist who measures the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation left over from the universal primeval plasma. About 13 billion years ago, the event known as the big bang kicked off the expansion of the very fabric of the universe’s space-time. The CMB is therefore the oldest light in the universe, carrying with it clues to how the universe was created and how it continues to expand.

Staggs is the principal investigator of the Advanced ACTPol project, the current generation of the Atacama Cosmology Telescope project. Since ACT is a large telescope — about 20 feet in diameter — it can make maps of the fine-scale features in the CMB. Her group is intimately involved at all levels of the project, with a particular emphasis on the detector arrays for the camera. Staggs is also a founding member of the Simons Observatory, which is building a suite of instruments for measuring the CMB from large to small angular scales.  

She received her Ph.D. from Princeton and joined the Princeton faculty in 1996. She has been selected to serve on the Dark Energy Task Force and on more than a dozen review panels for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation, and she was a member of the NASA Capabilities Roadmapping Team in 2005 for Scientific Instruments & Sensors. Her work has been recognized many awards and honors, including an NSF CAREER award, the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award and a Sloan Fellowship.

Elke Weber

Weber is the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment and professor of psychology and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She is also the associate director for education at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.

Weber is known internationally for using behavioral decision science and psychological theory to advance global understanding of and help to alleviate social problems. She has been recognized for her distinctive approach to linking psychology principles to behavior change and uncovering the implications for environmental and economic policy, communications, management, economics and leadership models. Her recent research shows how the personal carbon footprint of climate scientists, philanthropists and other climate advocates affect the perceived legitimacy of and policy support for their climate strategies. Weber’s research ranges from studies of discrimination and economic inequality to investigations of the social and psychological barriers to decarbonization. Much of her work contextualizes tradeoffs and decision-making risks, especially under conditions of uncertainty.

Weber joined the Princeton faculty in 2016 from Columbia University. At Princeton, she founded the Behavioral Science for Policy Lab. At Columbia, she founded the Center for Decision Sciences and Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, which are still active today. Weber was the Jerome A. Chazen Professor of International Business at Columbia Business School for 17 years, and also held visiting appointments at London Business School and the Copenhagen Business School.

In 2018, Weber was named a fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina). She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and American Psychological Society, and has held leadership positions in Society for Neuroeconomics, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Mathematical psychology, among others.

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