Thanks to the Stanford community’s deep commitment to keeping each other safe through vaccination, masking, social distancing and regular testing, campus activity gradually began to pick up again in 2021.

A new pace was found in a world with different rhythms than what we were used to pre-pandemic.

Faculty, students and staff reconnected with their peers and colleagues, with some meeting each other in person for the first time. Athletics welcomed back Cardinal fans and our museums reopened their doors to the local community, all with added safety protections, of course.

The year also saw Stanford researchers make further advancements in science and technology, and scholars from the social sciences, arts and humanities offered new ways to understand problems facing society and the world at large.

Stanford also found a few moments to celebrate some notable achievements, including the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, a MacArthur “genius” grant and a Rhodes Scholarship, to name a few.

In addition, campus-wide efforts to promote diversity, equity, access and inclusion expanded significantly over the past year.

Below are a few of the highlights and reflections from the year.

Guido Imbens wins Nobel in economic sciences

Stanford economist Guido W. Imbens was awarded the Nobel Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences today for his work in econometrics and statistics.

A rapid-response vaccine could stop pandemics

James Swartz has spent a dozen years refining an underappreciated biotech technique into a radical new vaccine approach that could quickly protect billions of people from the next COVID-19-level pandemic.

First detection of light from behind a black hole

Fulfilling a prediction of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, researchers report the first-ever recordings of X-ray emissions from the far side of a black hole.

Resuming research during COVID-19

A perspective article co-authored by senior research officers from six leading research universities, including Stanford, argues for a gradual, stepwise approach to reopening of academic research that is informed by public health expertise.

Bioengineering honors student named Rhodes Scholar

Sayeh Kohani, who is studying bioengineering and public policy, has won a 2022 Rhodes Scholarship, which provides all expenses for two or three years of graduate study at the University of Oxford in England.

Supporting students involved in the justice system

New data show that a one-page letter asking a teacher to support a youth as they navigate the difficult transition from juvenile detention back to school can reduce the likelihood that the student re-offends.

Hitting the reset button: Building a better normal after the pandemic

Instead of emerging from the coronavirus pandemic resilient to crisis and catastrophe, Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki asks what if we grew stronger because of it?

Issa Rae encourages the Class of 2021 to be a VIP in the club of life

Issa Rae, a writer, actor and producer known for her wit, wisdom and creativity, said the community she built at Stanford was the reason she was able to pursue her dreams.

Say yes to everything, Atul Gawande tells Stanford’s advanced degree graduates

Stanford graduate Atul Gawande, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgeon, Harvard professor and best-selling author, encouraged advanced degree recipients to be open to trying just about everything.

Academic structure announced for new school focused on climate and sustainability

The new school will include transitional academic divisions, university-wide cross-cutting themes organized into institutes and an accelerator focused on solutions. Stanford is now launching the search for a dean to lead the new school.

Stanford honors 2021 NCAA women’s basketball champions

Stanford honored the 2021 NCAA women’s basketball champions with a campus parade on Monday, the day after the Cardinal beat the Arizona Wildcats for the team’s first national title since 1992.

Stanford art museums, Frost Amphitheater begin to reopen

The university is planning a gradual reopening of some campus venues and zones to foster greater community connection as public health conditions improve.

Stanford’s IDEAL initiative makes substantial progress toward goals

The campus-wide efforts to promote diversity, equity, access and inclusion have expanded significantly in the academic year 2020-21.

An accurate wearable calorie burn counter

A system made with two inexpensive sensors proves to be more accurate than smartwatches for measuring calories burned during activity – and the instructions for making the system yourself are available for free online.

Neuroscientist Michelle Monje awarded MacArthur ‘genius grant’

The neuroscientist and pediatric neuro-oncologist is being recognized for her work to understand healthy brain development and create therapies for a group of lethal brain tumors.

How to change the future of technology

Three Stanford professors want people to press control-alt-delete on how we think about our relationship to Big Tech. In a new book, they seek to empower all of us to create a technological future that supports human flourishing and democratic values.

Solar radio signals could be used to monitor melting ice sheets

A new method for seeing through ice sheets using radio signals from the sun could enable cheap, low-power and widespread monitoring of ice sheet evolution and contribution to sea-level rise.

Teaching the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks

On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, four Stanford scholars and leading experts in national security, terrorism and contemporary conflict – Condoleezza Rice, Amy Zegart, Martha Crenshaw and Lisa Blaydes – reflect on how their teaching of the terrorist attacks has evolved.

Archiving Black histories of Silicon Valley

A new collection at Stanford Libraries will highlight Black Americans who helped transform California’s Silicon Valley region into a hub for innovation, ideas.

Four causes for ‘Zoom fatigue’ and their solutions

It’s not just Zoom. Popular video chat platforms have design flaws that exhaust the human mind and body. But there are easy ways to mitigate their effects.

A new installation brings playful and thought-provoking public art to the Science and Engineering Quad

The dynamic spheres created by international artist Alicja Kwade suggest alternate realities.

Jeffrey Ullman receives ACM Turing Award

Ullman shares the prize with long-time collaborator Alfred Aho of Columbia University. They are recognized for their influential work on compilers and algorithms, including their co-authorship of widely popular textbooks on these topics.

Celebrating 25 years of research and teaching for race and ethnic studies

As the Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity (CCSRE) celebrates its 25-year anniversary, founding director Al Camarillo and current director Jennifer DeVere Brody reflect on how race and ethnic studies has transformed at Stanford thanks to interdisciplinary collaboration and connection.

Stanford recognizes Native American Heritage Month

This November, Stanford will recognize Native American Heritage Month in honor of more than 450 Indigenous and Native-identifying students, staff and faculty as well as the university’s storied history and connection with the land upon which it sits.

Researchers find drug that enables healing without scarring

Researchers have identified the mechanisms of scar formation in skin and demonstrated in mice a way to make wounds heal with normal skin instead of scar tissue.

Back-to-back champions

Turning in its best score of the year at 414.521, Stanford captured its seventh national championship, including the second consecutive crown.

Stanford at the Olympics

More than three dozen Cardinal athletes have qualified, along with five delegates, for the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Cantor Arts Center launches Asian American Art Initiative

Among the first of its kind, Stanford’s newest hub of interdisciplinary scholarship transforms the museum’s collection and expands research opportunities.

Knight-Hennessy Scholars program announces 2021 cohort

Knight-Hennessy Scholars, who receive up to three years of funding for graduate study at Stanford, also participate in the King Global Leadership Program, which aims to prepare them to become inspiring and visionary leaders who are committed to the greater good.

Royal Ballet star trades stage for frosh life at Stanford

Beatriz Stix-Brunell, who gave her farewell performance with the Royal Ballet in London a week ago, will begin her academic career as an undergraduate at Stanford in the fall.

Stanford supports community health workers conducting COVID-19 vaccine outreach in area’s Latinx community

Stanford faculty members are collaborating with community health workers to promote COVID-19 vaccine awareness and public health guidelines in the area’s Latinx community.

Stanford researchers identify blood markers that indicate labor is approaching

About three weeks before delivery, a pregnant woman’s body shifts into a pre-labor phase characterized by changes in immune, hormonal and blood-clotting signals.

Stanford program matches autistic job seekers with employers

Psychiatrist Lawrence Fung expanded his autism research into developing a program that helps those on the spectrum find jobs.

Stanford scholars expand digital database with historic records from the Nuremberg Trial

Stanford University is marking the 75th anniversary of the International Military Tribunal of Nuremberg with a significant expansion of records from the historic trial.

George Shultz, statesman and Stanford scholar, dies at 100

George Shultz, a former U.S. secretary of state and Stanford University scholar who wielded profound influence on American public policy, died Feb. 6.

‘Age is just some number’: A former pro soccer player pursues a second dream at Stanford

Transfer student Johann Smith traveled the world for more than a decade, playing soccer in England, Canada, Croatia, Finland, Sweden and Toronto before coming to Stanford.

Cardinal captures synchronized swimming crown

Stanford won the USA Artistic Swimming Collegiate National title on Saturday afternoon, its ninth championship in the program’s history.

Immune system ‘clock’ predicts illness and mortality

Scientists at Stanford and the Buck Institute have found a way to predict an individual’s immunological decline as well as the likelihood of incurring age-associated diseases and becoming frail.

Foundational gift aims to advance diversity and inclusion at Stanford and impact society

Philanthropic support from Tonia, ’92, and Adam Karr will support research on race and education and endow the directorship of the Black Community Services Center.

Students Zoom around the world as summer interns

During the 2020-21 academic year, 49 Stanford students worked in virtual internships in 19 countries through the university’s Global Studies Internship Program.

Supporting displaced scholars during international, human rights crisis

Through the Institute of International Education, Stanford has hosted displaced scholars who have had to escape conflict or flee persecution because of their research, race or creed.

Stanford Memorial Church stained glass returned to original beauty after vandalization

For months, a team has been reconstructing some of the iconic stained-glass windows at Stanford Memorial Church after they were vandalized over the summer. The repaired century-old windows were installed in mid-November.

Stanford’s new vice provost for digital education on innovating for educational equity

Matthew Rascoff, vice provost for digital education, talks about the newly created office that will marshal Stanford’s teaching and learning expertise and technological capabilities to reach students who have been historically underserved by higher education.

New algorithm for modern quilting

When it comes to the art of quilting, determining the feasibility and order of steps in advanced patterns can be notoriously complicated – and frustrating. By automating that process, a new algorithm enables quilters to focus on design and creation.

What dress codes reveal about politics, social change

According to Stanford legal scholar Richard Thompson Ford, dress codes are a Rosetta Stone to decode social norms and resistance of a time and place.

Transfer student is forging a new life path at Stanford

Jason Spyres, who began his university studies as a transfer student in 2018, set his sights on the Farm after hearing an inspiring talk by a Stanford admission officer.

Revealing the complexities of life in Silicon Valley

To capture what it’s like to live and work in Silicon Valley – for the affluent, those who are barely getting by and the many people in between – Stanford communication professor and Silicon Valley scholar Fred Turner teamed up with renowned photographer Mary Beth Meehan.

Steinbeck’s experimentalism explored

English Professor Gavin Jones’ new book examines John Steinbeck’s experimentalism, contending that the author’s portrayals of climate change and wealth inequality make him an important literary voice for today.

Citizenship course piloted

“Citizenship in the 21st Century” is being piloted during the winter quarter as part of a new core curriculum for first-year students.

Carbon emissions rebound to near pre-pandemic levels

Global emissions of carbon dioxide are surging once again as power plants and industry burn more coal and natural gas, narrowing the remaining window for limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.