Though the first foliage has yet to appear, spring has already arrived on the Princeton campus, at least in name (and reading assignments). This past Monday, February 4, opened the spring semester and heralded a variety of new events and activities for the community to investigate. From an ambitious staging of a sweeping musical to a gala celebrating the most prized tradition in Chinese culture to a discussion of honey bees, the coming weeks promise events that promise to inspire reflection, debate or pure enjoyment — often simultaneously.

What follows is a small sampling of upcoming events on the Princeton University campus. For a complete schedule, visit Events are free unless otherwise noted. A campus map is available online at

Thursday and Friday, February 7 and 8, 8 to 10 p.m., and Saturday, February 9, 2 to 4 p.m., Black Arts Company (BAC) presents “Aida.”

Princeton University’s BAC is a student-run organization intent on bringing to life the cultural experiences of Africans across the globe and sharing those experiences with the Princeton community through artistic performances. BAC: Drama, one wing of the group, is offering the Tony award-winning musical “Aida,” demonstrating the group’s commitment to cultural awareness on a grand scale, indeed.

Based on Giuseppe Verdi’s constantly performed 1871 grand opera of the same name, “Aida” — set in ancient Egypt and touching on the themes of love, treachery, and the struggle of competing loyalties — has been has been resurrected as a Broadway musical, with Elton John as composer. With over 70 participants, BAC Drama promises to hold nothing back with its newest production.

Performances at the Frist Campus Center’s Film & Performance Theater, Frist 301. Tickets $7 for students, $9 for the general public, may be purchased by calling 609-258-9220 or visiting

Monday, February 11, 4:30 p.m., A highlight seminar: Maureen McCann on the Future of Energy-Biofuels.

Wherever you may live, the discovery of new energy sources will determine how you will live in the near future. McCann, professor of molecular biology at Purdue University and director of Purdue’s Energy Center, has dedicated much research to just how alternative energy forms — biofuels in particular — can move from theory to reality. McCann’s own area of expertise involves the molecular workings of plant cell walls.

This lecture, titled “A Roadmap for Selective Deconstruction of Lignocellulosic Biomass to Advanced Biofuels and Useful Co-Products,” may sound abstruse, but it is not. “Lignocellulosic biomass” is simply the biological material that makes up the cell walls in plants.

Thanks to the research of McCann and a multidisciplinary group of scientists, plant cell walls could become a viable candidate for a sustainable source of energy, and this means less reliance on oil, and more support for rural economies. McCann’s lecture establishes a blueprint for — and will give a glimpse of — the next generation of energy sources.

Sponsored by the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, Computer Science 104. Call 609-258-4899 for details.

Friday, February 15, 7 to 10 p.m., The Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Princeton University (ACSSPU) presents a Chinese New Year Celebration: The Spring Festival Gala.

The Chinese New Year is one of the oldest and most important Chinese holidays. Though many may know of this spring festival through the association between animals and Chinese years (2013 will be the Year of the Snake), it denotes much more. ACSSPU’s Zhuo Wang explains that the holiday is a family affair, an occasion for reunion that is comparable to Thanksgiving.

The ACSSPU will capture the spirit of the festival with its annual gala, and students, staff, faculty and members of the community are invited to join in the merrymaking.

Sponsored by Princeton University and the Consulate of China. Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall. For more information about the festival or the ACSSPU, E-mail

Friday, February 22, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., the Princeton BEE Team Presents “Apian Academics.”

Members of the University community pursue a variety of interests from dancing to choir to . . . beekeeping? The interest in beekeeping is stronger than one might suspect. Princeton’s BEE team boasts more than 250 members and two healthy hives in a bee yard next to the West Windsor field on Washington Road. The team is eager to promote the art of beekeeping with classes, lectures, and hands-on apian events.

“Apian Academics” will be a panel discussion among three specialists on bee research. Among the topics are the intricacies of queen bee mating and the behavior of honey bees. Bees hibernate in the winter months, so the stirrings of the BEE Team are also an unofficial prologue to the hive activity sure to unfold in the coming months.

Co-sponsored by the High Meadows Sustainability Fund and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Lewis Library Bowl Classroom 138. E-mail

Briefly Noted:

Saturday, February 9, 8 to 10 p.m., “Broadway POPS! ‘The Garland Magic,’” Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall. In 1961, the troubled starlet Judy Garland gave a landmark performance at Carnegie Hall. In “Broadway POPS!” soprano Karen Mason will recreate that legendary concert, accompanied by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra. Tickets from $25 may be purchased by calling 609-497-0020 or visiting

Tuesday, February 12, 4:30 p.m., Workshop on Arab Political Development, Dodds Auditorium. Seasoned political analystand co-editor of “Yemen on the Brink” Marina Ottoway will present “How Not to Write a Constitution: Lessons from Egypt.” The event’s sponsors include the Woodrow Wilson School and the Bobst Center.

Thursday, February 21, 4:30 p.m., “J Street U” Lecture, Frist Campus Center 307. Distinguished human rights activist Danny Seidemann lectures on the Arab-Palestine conflict and the role of Jerusalem in resolving it.

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