Claire Gmachl recognized by Princeton Engineering for outstanding mentoring

Written by
Office of Engineering Communications
May 16, 2024

The School of Engineering and Applied Science has honored Claire Gmachl with an award for excellence in mentoring. This annual award was created in 2023 by the engineering school to recognize faculty for some of their most important work beyond research and teaching.

Claire Gmachl is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In nominating Gmachl for the award, James Sturm, chair of electrical and computer engineering, wrote that “she has been an exemplary mentor to many students” and has “selflessly devoted her career not only to mentoring those who might otherwise slip through the cracks at Princeton, but helping them to excel well beyond Princeton.”

Gmachl joined Princeton in 2003 after eight years at AT&T Bell Laboratories. She is currently associate chair of electrical and computer engineering and has been the head of Whitman College since 2019.

“Claire is the embodiment of patient, dedicated, thoughtful and generous mentoring,” wrote Alexis Andres, who worked with Gmachl at Whitman College and is now the dean of Yeh College. “Many Princeton University BSE students owe their strong starts to her.”

Each summer for the past several years Gmachl has taught a course she designed as part of the Freshman Scholars Institute, a summer residential program for incoming freshman. She also co-founded the first year math-physics courses at Princeton Engineering, a set of courses that are designed for students who did not did not take advanced physics and math in high school. The course now enrolls about 10% of Princeton first years, according to Sturm. “Her dedication to the program is hard to believe,” he wrote.

Gmachl is affiliated faculty at the Princeton Materials Institute and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, where she served as interim director from 2021-2023. She also served as vice dean of the engineering school from 2013-2014.

Gmachl has been widely recognized for her teaching and mentorship. In 2022 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching from the engineering school. She has also received a President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching and a Graduate Mentoring Award from Princeton.