There is an air of Victorian country calm in the laboratory where Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien's three graduate students quietly wrestle with problems of microscale engineering thermophysics. Gray metal desks hug one wall and computers and electronic equipment line another.

On a recent afternoon, the tranquillity is pierced by a swirl of activity in the corridor. As the buzz of conversation ripples toward them, the three young women look up eagerly from their work. "That's how we know he's coming," smiles Cynthia Goldman. "We hear him saying hi to everyone on his way down the hall."

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