Welcome to Discovery 2012

Dean for Research

Dean for Research A.J. Stewart Smith

Princeton University focuses emphatically
on the education and training of future leaders,
as well as on fundamental research that
advances the understanding of our world
and serves as the basis for new technologies
that transform, translate and improve our lives.

Our historical strengths in mathematics,
physics, astronomy and climate science
resonate ever more strongly with an increasing
set of leading interdisciplinary programs in
genomics, neuroscience, materials science, engineering, energy and computer science. Our
work in the physical sciences is complemented by critical research in the social sciences and

Of special delight to me as a particle physicist was the discovery last summer of the long-sought Higgs boson at CERN, the culmination of more than 20 years of theoretical and experimental work by generations of scientists around the world, prominently including many Princeton researchers, former students and Nobel Prize winners.

We are privileged and honored to manage the nearby Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and to share researchers and resources with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. Collaborations between these federally funded laboratories and Princeton enable major advances in realizing sustainable energy and understanding climate change. To set the scale, external funding for campus research — 83 percent provided by the federal government — has increased steadily over the past decade to approximately $192 million in expenditures in 2012, while PPPL received, roughly, an additional $90 million in expenditures this year.

This federal funding needs to be preserved and strengthened to enable discoveries and bring to fruition their accompanying, often unanticipated, practical applications, which have the potential to improve the lives of our planet’s 7 billion people. Support for research in the social sciences and the humanities is also critical, and private foundations play a crucial role. For example, in 2012 the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Princeton a $3.3 million grant to support the University’s Fellows in the Creative and Performing Arts program, which will bring innovative early- and mid-career artists to campus.

Increasingly, interdisciplinary centers with centralized resources and facilities bring together leading minds from diverse scholarly backgrounds to create a research enterprise greater than the sum of its parts. A prominent new example is Princeton’s High-Performance Computing Research Center, which provides sophisticated hardware and computing power for all University researchers and enables new discoveries in climate science, astrophysics and many other fields.

Princeton is proud to engage in technology transfers and partnerships with industry to translate federal investments into products and services for the betterment of all people and the environment. In fiscal year 2012, the University’s Office of Technology Licensing worked with 250 inventors across campus to produce 106 new invention disclosures, 139 patent applications, and manage an intellectual property portfolio that resulted in 31 issued patents and 27 licenses. Princeton’s royalty income has greatly increased over the past 10 years, placing us in the top group of American institutions.

As proud as we are of this output, Princeton’s most important “products” remain the new knowledge we create and the brilliant young minds we train for careers in industry, government and academia.

A. J. Stewart Smith
Dean for Research
Class of 1909 Professor of Physics