Results tagged “Pablo Debenedetti”

Pablo Debenedetti.jpg
The current issue of Chemical Engineering Education features a lovely profile of Pablo Debenedetti, the vice dean of the School of Engineering and Class of 1950 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science.

The profile delineates Debenedetti's many significant scholarly achievements (he was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2000) but also offers up ample evidence of why he is such a beloved teacher at Princeton. The piece, written by Jean Tom *93, Athanassios Panagiotopoulos, and Richard Register, says that three qualities distinguish Debenedetti's teaching:

"First, he truly teaches his students how to think: to first conceptualize and then apply new ideas, rather than simply showing them a formulaic approach to solving particular types of problems. To reach this goal, Pablo firmly grounds his courses in the fundamentals of the subject, providing the students a solid base for their own work.

"Second -- perhaps a corollary of the first -- Pablo recognizes that different students learn differently, and a new concept may be best explained to different students in different ways. Both in lecture and in his office hours, he will tirelessly approach the exposition of a new concept from various directions until he finds the method that allows  a particular student to internalize the idea.

"Third, Pablo always makes himself accessible to his students (all the more remarkable given his other obligations, and facilitated by the fact that he doesn't seem to need much sleep), and takes a personal interest in each one."

Read the full article here.

Photo by John Jameson

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Princeton Engineering's Howard A. Stone and Ed Felten have just been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation's most prestigious honorary societies. Other members elected to the academy this year include jazz icon Dave Brubeck, filmmaker Ken Burns, singer-songwriter Paul Simon, actor Sam Waterston, and Nobel laureate writer Mario Vargas Llosa, who last semester was a Distinguished Visitor in Princeton's Program in Latin American Studies.

Felten, director of the Center for Information Technology Policy, is currently on leave from Princeton for a year to serve as the Federal Trade Commission's chief technologist. Scientific American has called him "one of the most incisive minds of the digital age."

Stone, the Donald R. Dixon '69 and Elizabeth W. Dixon Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace, works at the interface of chemistry, physics, and engineering and has contributed to new ways of understanding a wide range of problems involving microfluidics, surface tension, and thin film flows. In 2008 he received the Batchelor Prize, the most prestigious prize in the field of fluid mechanics. In 2009 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Princeton Engineering faculty who have been elected to the academy in past years include Emily Carter, Pablo Debenedetti, Chung Law, and Marlan Scully.

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In the current issue of Chemistry World, Philip Ball calls proteins "Goldilocks molecules": everything has to be "just right" for them not to unravel. Proteins are sensitive to temperature,  pressure, acid levels, and exposure to certain small molecules known as denaturants. 

Why should we care how and why proteins behave? Because, Ball points out, understanding what makes proteins unravel is central to understanding what makes our earth habitable. It is also a driving force behind all manner of neurodegenerative diseases, from Alzheimer's to Parkinson's.

In his survey of cutting-edge protein folding research, Ball highlights work by Pablo Debenedetti and Frank Stillinger at Princeton and Peter Rossky at the University of Texas. Their lattice model (see image above) explores the nuanced way that temperature and pressure can destabilize proteins. For more on their research, conducted with former Princeton graduate student Bryan Patel and now continuing with postdoc Silvina Matysiak, read the full article here.

In the spring, Debenedetti and colleagues published research on a new way to freeze water.

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The rumors are true: last weekend the School of Engineering's vice dean Pablo Debenedetti was seen doing performance art in the West Village as part of the Cornelia Street Cafe's "Entertaining Science" series. Debenedetti, a leading expert in fluid thermodynamics, explored "familiar and strange water, in all its life-enhancing properties -- chemical, physical, sociological and musical -- with the musicians Katie Down and Matt Darriau."

Down is known for clowning around in the ukulele band Ukuladies. Darriau is known for his work with Paradox Trio and the Klezmatics, the only Klezmer band to have won a Grammy Award. As for Debenedetti? He is known for his work as a theorist in condensed matter physics and engineering. Earlier this year he published research suggesting a novel way to control the behavior of water.

The Entertaining Science series is the brainchild of Roald Hoffmann, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist at Cornell who orchestrates delightful collisions of art and science. That is Debenedetti (in the image above) hovering over the musical duo; the background image is taken from a computational investigation of the fracture mechanisms of thin films of glassy water (non-crystalline solid water) upon cooling. Technical folks who want to know more can explore here.

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Princeton Engineering professors Emily Carter, Pablo Debenedetti and Marlan Scully have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. They are in impressive company. Other 2008 fellows include film director Pedro Almodóvar, blues guitarist B.B. King, Dell computer founder Michael Dell, and former U. S. Secretary of State (and Princeton alum) James Baker III.

Carter — who works at the intersection of chemistry, materials science, applied physics and applied mathematics — also was just elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Debenedetti, a theorist who works in condensed matter physics and engineering (his recent work was recently featured by Philip Ball in his Water in Biology forum), was just named vice dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Scully, a k a the “quantum cowboy,” recently delivered the prestigious Loeb Lecture at Harvard, which you can view here. Scully is also the coauthor, with his son Robert Scully, of The Demon and the Quantum, a new book showing the close relationship between information science, thermodynamics and quantum physics.

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A 2007 index of scholarly productivity ranks Princeton as number one in civil engineering, environmental engineering, and computer engineering. The survey ranks Princeton as second in aerospace engineering and computational sciences. And in mechanical engineering and operations research? Princeton ranks in the top ten.

The Chronicle of Higher Education explains the survey’s methodology in this article, where you can find rankings of all 375 Ph.D.-granting universities included in the study.

Princeton Engineering faculty are known for being not just world-class scholars but also world-class teachers.

A recent New York Times article on graduate programs points out that Princeton University guarantees its doctoral students hefty financial support — both in free tuition and in stipends — so that they have the freedom to focus on research and earn their Ph.D.s in a timely way. Princeton, according to the Times, “has developed a culture where professors keep after students. Students talk of frequent meetings with advisers, not a semiannual review.”

To learn more about how William Russel, dean of the graduate school and professor of chemical engineering, keeps in close contact with his graduate students, read the full Times article here.

By the way, Russel’s fellow chemical engineering professor Pablo Debenedetti — also legendary for his teaching — has some intriguing new research coming out on, broadly speaking, the role that water plays in causing proteins to unfold under pressure, and at both low and high temperatures. For a preview, dive into this Water in Biology blog post.

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