Nobel Prize awards are announced every October, when award committees in Sweden and Norway name illustrious thinkers in the fields of medicine, physics, chemistry, literature, peace, and economics. This year’s winners were announced over the course of a week in mid-October, and several of them have exciting connections to the Leatherby Libraries, in particular a winner who spoke at a Leatherby Libraries event in 2016!
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna, for their work on the development of CRISPR-Cas9, a method for genome editing. Both scholars are authors of books on CRISPR located in the Leatherby Libraries collection, including Dr. Charpentier’s CRISPR: Methods and Protocols; and Dr. Doudna’s The Use of CRISPR/Cas9, ZFNs, and TALENs in Generating Site-Specific Genome Alterations and CRISPR-Cas: A Laboratory Manual.
Poet Louise Glück was the recipient of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature. Several of Glück’s books of poetry and essays are in the Leatherby Libraries collection, including Meadowlands, October, and Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry. Additionally, Chapman University Professor of English Brian Glaser has published an article on Glück’s poetry, titled “The Implied Reader and Depressive Experience in Louise Glück’s ‘The Wild Iris.'” The article can be read here on JSTOR by logging in with Chapman credentials.
In a break from the typical practice of awarding Nobel Prizes to individuals or teams of researchers, the committee for the Nobel Peace Prize chose the World Food Programme as this year’s recipient. The World Food Programme is the branch of the United Nations dedicated to food-assistance throughout the world, and two of their books are also in the Leatherby Libraries collection: Hunger and Markets and The World’s Women…: Trends and Statistics.
The Nobel Prize in Economic Science, an award that Chapman has a strong connection to (more on that below) was awarded to Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson. One of Dr. Milgrom’s books, Putting Auction Theory to Work, is available in the Leatherby Libraries collection. In addition to his book, an article on which Dr. Milgrom collaborated with Chapman University professor Vernon L. Smith, “The Promise of Prediction Markets,” is available on the Chapman University Digital Commons.
The awarding of the Nobel Prize in Physics to Roger Penrose for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity was the most exciting for the Leatherby Libraries, because of Dr. Penrose’s connections with the library and with Chapman University. (The Physics prize this year was also awarded jointly to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Gehz.) In September 2016, Sir Roger Penrose visited the Chapman University campus for two excellent events, both related to the inauguration of Daniele Struppa as the thirteenth president of Chapman University. At the inauguration event, Dr. Penrose delivered the capstone address, “Fashion, Faith and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe.” You can read more about the talk here, and view pictures from the event here. The following day, Dr. Penrose, along with Chapman University Physics Professor Yakir Aharanov (who was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2009), scientist Andrew Briggs, director Werner Herzog, and artist Jayne Reich, participated in a thrilling event at the Leatherby Libraries, in a dialogue on the topic of “Creativity in Art and Science.” You can read more about this amazing event, and even click through to a recording of it, in this blog post.
This year’s selection of Nobel Prize winners are not the first with connections to Chapman University and the Leatherby Libraries. In 2013, Dr. François Englert, who is an affiliated scholar with the Chapman University Institute for Quantum Studies (and who, at the time, was a Distinguished Visiting Professor in Residence at Chapman), received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his prediction of the Higgs Boson particle, which has helped the world’s physicists solve some of the deepest mysteries of the universe.
Most notably is Dr. Vernon L. Smith, the George L. Argyros Endowed Chair in Finance and Economics, who teaches Economics and Law in the Economic Science Institute, the Dale E. Fowler School of Law, and the George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics. Dr. Smith received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002 for his contributions to Behavioral Economics. Beyond his impressive teaching influence across the Chapman campus, Dr. Smith’s presence can also be found deeply etched into the Leatherby Libraries, where his Nobel Prize is held in the Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections & Archives, and where students can study in the Vernon L. Smith Reading Alcove.
Students looking for a great place to read can also visit the Milton and Rose Friedman Reading Room, which honors Milton Friedman, winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, and his wife, Rose. In addition to memorabilia such as Friedman’s doctoral robes from Columbia, the reading room also contains the Friedmans’ private library, which they chose to donate to the Leatherby Libraries. Milton Friedman was also the professor and mentor of Chapman University President Emeritus Dr. Jim Doti. Students in search of inspiration can find it in this corner of the library dedicated to the groundbreaking economist, and father of the economic theory of monetarism.
The Leatherby Libraries sends a hearty congratulations to all of this year’s Nobel Prize winners, and we hope to learn of even more exciting connections next year!
Thanks to Dr. Kevin Ross, Dr. Doug Dechow, Catalina Lopez, and Ana Munandar for their assistance in researching and writing this post.