Jennifer Rampling Awarded Dean for Research Innovation Fund
Several new research projects that promise to expand the bounds of knowledge have been selected to receive funding through Princeton’s Office of the Dean for Research.
The Dean for Research Innovation Funds are awarded annually to promising and forward-looking research across various subject areas and disciplines. This year’s funded projects range from open-ended studies in the natural and social sciences to targeted questions in cancer research, communications technology and sustainability. The projects are chosen by faculty-led committees based on the quality, originality and potential impact of the research.
“These funds represent Princeton University’s commitment to support research that pushes boundaries in new directions,” said Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti, the Class of 1950 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science and professor of chemical and biological engineering. “Through these funds, Princeton researchers can take that extra risk or explore that new path that they might otherwise not have taken.”
This year’s Innovation Funds were awarded in four categories: natural sciences, social sciences, collaborations with industry, and the campus as a laboratory.
Through a glass darkly: Depicting alchemical change from 1400 to 1700
This project aims to bring together historians of science and art to explore the craft of alchemy and its practitioners in early modern Europe. Alchemical imagery is rich with fantastical green lions, red toads and other objects. These images provide the starting point for exploring how alchemists sought to understand the nature of chemical transformations — what we now call “reactions.” Alchemists went beyond simple mechanistic explanations to encompass theological and medical debates about the relationship between body and soul, visible and invisible, and other profound questions.
Through this project, Jennifer Rampling, assistant professor of history, seeks to connect the history of alchemy to broader intellectual and cultural conceptions of change in early modern Europe, by bringing together evidence from alchemical images, texts, archaeological evidence and experimental reconstructions conducted in laboratories. The result will be a monograph, a conference and an exhibition aimed at bringing to a wider audience the early modern struggle to master the outward properties of matter and its inner mysteries.