Frank Wilczek

Theoretical physicist, author, and former University trustee Frank Wilczek, SB’70, at Arizona State University. (Templeton Prize/Michael Clark)


A selection of alumni whose names are in the news

Fundamental beauty

Theoretical physicist, author, and former University trustee Frank Wilczek, SB’70, has been awarded the 2022 Templeton Prize, which honors “those who harness the power of the sciences to explore the deepest questions of the universe and humankind’s place and purpose within it.” A professor of physics at MIT, Wilczek shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics for establishing, while a graduate student at Princeton, the fundamental theory of the strong nuclear force. Wilczek “paints a picture of the universe in which space and time, logic and pure mathematics form a pattern of awe-inspiring beauty,” reads the award announcement. He will receive $1.3 million and deliver a Templeton Prize lecture in the fall.

Mayoral medal

Grace Chan McKibben, AB’90, AM’90, executive director of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community (CBCAC), received the Mayor’s Medal of Honor, which recognizes efforts to improve the lives of Chicago residents. An advocacy and community planning group, the CBCAC organizes voter registration drives and helps broker compromises involving neighborhood concerns. As CBCAC’s leader, Chan McKibben has been a public voice on issues affecting Chinatown, such as Stop Asian Hate campaigns. Before joining the coalition, she was active in the Chinese American Service League, which provides legal aid, education, senior support, and other social services.

Emotional win

Stan Kimer, MBA’79, won a gold medal at the 2022 US Adult Figure Skating Championships. Inspired by the 2014 Winter Olympics, Kimer embarked on his journey to become a competitive figure skater. He competed in the US Adult Nationals for the first time in April. For his winning program in the Emotional Performance category, he skated to “Stranger in Paradise” from the 1955 movie Kismet. Before taking up skating, he founded Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer, a diversity and career development consultancy, following a 31-year career at IBM.

Two firsts

In March Chicago’s City Council unanimously voted for Nicole Lee’s (MPP’05) appointment as the new alderwoman for Chicago’s 11th Ward, making her the first Asian American woman—and currently the only Asian American—on the council. Less than two months later, the City Council approved a new ward map set to take effect in 2023 that unites Chinatown and makes the 11th a majority–Asian American ward, also a first in Chicago history. Lee, who served as director of social impact optimization and global community engagement for United Airlines before assuming her new role, is a native of Chinatown and has extensive experience in Asian American community organizing.

Royal honor

Yusra Ahmad, AB’02, a psychiatrist and clinical lecturer at the University of Toronto, was invited to a May reception at the governor general’s residence in Ottawa, part of the royal tour marking Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. Ahmad’s selection to meet Prince Charles, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Governor General Mary Simon recognized her years of advocacy around gender-based violence, cultural safety, human rights, and refugee mental health, and her work with Mindfully Muslim, a faith-based group therapy program she founded in 2017. The program, created for the Muslim community but open to non-Muslims as well, combines teachings from mindfulness-based cognitive therapy with wisdom from the Islamic tradition.

The art of science fiction

This fall Erle M. Korshak, EX’47, who died August 26, 2021 (see Deaths), will be honored at the 80th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon). A pivotal organizer of Worldcon during its first years, Korshak created Moonstruck Press in 1939 to compile a bibliography of every fantasy book published to date. In 1947 he cofounded Shasta Publishers—one of the first hardcover science fiction small presses—which issued first editions of novels by some of science fiction’s most notable writers, including Robert A. Heinlein, Alfred Bester, John W. Campbell, and A. E. Van Vogt. Shasta also published The Checklist of Fantastic Literature: A Bibliography of Fantasy, Weird and Science Fiction Books Published in the English Language (1948). In 2009 Korshak revived the press as Shasta-Phoenix to publish classic science fiction art with his son, Stephen D. Korshak, LAB’69, AB’74. They also began exhibiting items from their collection, some of which will be on display at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools from September to November.