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Alumni, artists pepper spring assembly lineup

Origami master and renowned mathematician Robert Lang kicks off the term's speaker schedule. 

March 19, 2019
origami sculpture of a yellow jacket

"Yellow Jacket," made by Robert Lang from one uncut square of Origamido paper.

Robert Lang has designed air bags for the automotive industry and lasers for NASA and was among the inaugural class of fellows of the American Mathematics Society. But his heart is in folding paper into centipedes.

Well, not only centipedes. Fact is, Lang can fold a piece of paper, using the centuries-old Japanese art form of origami and his deep understanding of math, into just about anything you can imagine.

Lang shares his passion for paper with Exeter in the first all-school assembly of spring term March 19. He will be followed to the Assembly Hall stage over of the course of the term by the likes of a combat surgeon, a cutting-edge diabetes researcher, a broadcasting executive and an award-winning poet. At least six of the scheduled speakers are Exeter alumni.

Lang left his job at NASA to pursue origami full time, but he always relies on math to infuse his art.

"Over the years, math has allowed me to realize, as an artist, shapes and creations that I couldn't achieve any other way," he told Great Big Story. "I explore the math, develop the equations, solve the equations, create the folding pattern and then I find out what it looks like. And, as often as not, it is beautiful."

Here are some of the other visitors coming to the assembly stage this spring:


March 29
Seung Kim '81, Stanford Diabetes Research Center

Millions of people around the world live with diabetes or know someone who is. At the same time, nearly 50,000 people will die from pancreatic cancer in the U.S. this year. Dr. Kim’s laboratory at Stanford is working to change both those grim statistics. His team's stated mission is to discover, apply and translate science about diabetes and its complications. Learn more about Dr. Kim.


April 5
Andrea Cohen, poet

Andrea Cohen has published five collections of poems, including 2015's Furs Not Mine, of which one reviewer said "Cohen’s icy architectures in this stellar collection showcase her uncommon bravery in facing humanity’s common, but no less scary, demons." Her sixth collection, Nightshade, will be out next year. Learn more about Cohen.


April 9
Col. Robert Lim '87, combat surgeon

If you're facing a challenge in class or at work, consider Col. Robert Lim's: Keeping your eyes open in the middle of a sandstorm in an Iraqi desert. While performing surgery. Dr. Lim has deployed to a combat zone six times and founded the Society of Military Surgeons. He now is a leader of the effort to improve the education for surgeons and to recognize more accurate metrics for patient outcomes. Learn more about Dr. Lim.


April 19
Emily Barr '76, Graham Media Group

We live in an era of media distrust and the proliferation of "fake news," and in an era of behavioral change in the way people encounter and consume news. It is amid this changing landscape that Emily Barr oversees seven local TV news stations, including NBC affiliates in Houston and Detroit and the CBS affiliate in Orlando. Last year, Barr's leadership in navigating these changes was honored nationally by the Broadcasters Foundation of America


May 17
Kathy N. Nekton P’85, P’98, Founders Day Award

The Founder’s Day Award recognizes exceptional service to the Academy. Kathy Nekton joined Exeter in 1973 as an instructor in physical education and went on to serve as chair of the Department of Physical Education during the 1980s and as the first female athletic director at any prep school. The committee recognized Kathy for contributing in profound ways to the lives of those she coached, managed and mentored, teaching students and colleagues alike to be their best selves at Exeter and in life.