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THE CORNELL DAILY SUN | Monday, November 26, 2012 3


Obama Taps Dean Of Arts College for National Science Board

Practice run

By CAROLINE FLAX Sun Senior Writer

Peter Lepage, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, was appointed to the National Science Board on Nov. 16 by President Barack Obama. The National Science Board acts as the governing body for the National Science Foundation, which aids in directing and supporting federally-funded American research in science and engineering fields. Members of the board act as advisors to the President and Congress on policy matters involving science and engineering, according to the National Science Board’s website. Lepage said he was “honored” to be asked to join the Board. He said he hopes he will be able to aid the National Science Foundation’s mission of supporting science and engineering research. “I am eager to do what I can on the [National Science Board] to help the NSF continue and improve in its ability to fulfill this mission,” Lepage said in an email Sunday. Lepage said he is particularly excited that, through the appointment, he will be able to work with leaders in scientific and engineering fields. “What will make the appointment fun is close contact with the great science and engineering that LEPAGE is being done through NSF support — work that spans a very broad range of topics,” he said. “I expect to learn a lot.” Lepage, who began teaching physics at Cornell in 1980, was appointed chair of the Department of Physics in 1999. Lepage chaired the department until he was appointed dean of the arts college in 2003, according to a University press release. During his tenure as dean, Lepage has been notable for continuing his research in quantum physics, professors said. Lepage’s ability to maintain his research in addition to his administrative responsibilities is a “great” trait that will serve him well on the National Science Board, according to Prof. Csaba Csaki, physics. Csaki also praised Lepage’s ideas regarding the future of science education. “He has great vision about how science and education should go on in the future,” Csaki said. Prof. Robert Richardson, physics, who previously served the National Science Board, said Lepage will be “an outstanding member” of the board. “He has profound understanding of the issues facing the nation,” Richardson said. Prof. John Hopcroft, engineering and applied mathematics, who has also served on the National Science Board, said Lepage was an “excellent” choice for the board because of his straightforward personality. “There’s no politics involved with him,” Hopcroft said. Hopcroft added that Lepage’s appointment “really reflects on Dean Lepage’s international standing in the science community.” In the press release that announced Lepage’s –– and six others’ –– appointments to the National Science Board, Obama said the appointees will be valuable additions to the board. “I am honored that these talented individuals have decided to join this administration and serve our country,” Obama said. “I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.” Caroline Flax can be reached at


Members of the Ithaca Fire Department participate in training exercises using the nets below the Stone Arch Bridge on College Avenue on Nov. 18.

Professor Finn’41 Remembered For ‘Great Vision’After His Death By MANU RATHORE Sun Senior Writer

Hailed by his peers as a scientific pioneer, Prof. Emeritus Robert Kaul Finn ’41, chemical and biomolecular engineering, died on Nov. 3 at the age of 92. Finn died in his sleep at his home in Ithaca. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Cornell, Finn worked at Merck & Co., a pharmaceutical company, helping produce the world’s first antibiotics –– penicillin and streptomycin –– as the United States entered World War II. In 1946, Finn left Merck to work toward a Ph.D. in chemical engineering with a minor in applied microbiology at the University of Minnesota, according to a Univerity press release. Finn was the first person to research how cells in bioreactors — or a system in which a chemical process is carried out — can be damaged by exposure to air, according to Prof. Michael Shuler, biomedical engineering. “He had a great vision for what might be possible,” he said, adding that Finn’s work FINN ’41 represented “the first attempt on the topic in the field.” After finishing his Ph.D., Finn became known as one of the few chemical engineers working in the field of biotechnology, according to Cornell’s engineering magazine. “Biotechnology was a brand new thing,” Finn

told the magazine in the spring. “All of a sudden we found out that, ‘Hey,’ these bugs could not only make penicillin and streptomycin, but they could make a whole lot of other products.” In 1955, Prof. Charles Winding, then the director of Cornell’s Department of Chemical Engineering, invited Finn to teach at the University. Finn immediately accepted the offer over the phone

“He had a great vision for what might be possible.” Prof. Michael Shuler, biomedical engineering and worked on biomolecular engineering research at Cornell for the next 50 years, according to the magazine. Through his work at Cornell, Finn established himself as a pioneer in the field of biochemical engineering. He worked on applying theories in the field long before they were popular topics to research, according to Shuler. “He was one of the most imaginative engineering scientists that I knew,” Shuler said. “One of the four or five pioneers in the field, he was a very generous individual and he always wanted to help other people, students specifically.” Shuler said that Finn’s work was one of the major reasons “why I came to Cornell.” “He was very influential in that way … being a kind, gentle and caring person,” Shuler said. Manu Rathore can be reached at

Belt it out

Upheaval Forces Cornell Students Abroad in Israel to Adjust

Of the two Cornell undergraduate students studying abroad in Israel this semester, one was forced to seek shelter during an air raid two weeks ago and the other has been relocated to a city further from the Gaza Strip. Although both students are safe, continued clashes in the region could jeopardize the future of study abroad opportunities in Israel, according to Alexis Santi, coordinator of travel safety for Cornell Abroad. Federal Grant Will Fund Cornell University Mentor Program


Members of the Chordials a cappella group perform in an “After Hours” concert, which was held in the Statler Auditorium on Nov. 17.

Starting in Spring 2013, Cornell will use a $220,000 federal grant to help minority undergraduate students who aspire to attend graduate school prepare for doctorate programs. Cornell hopes to mentor about 15 sophomores and 10 juniors each year. — Compiled by Lianne Bornfeld


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