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10 of the Most Famous Princeton Professors

Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution.


Princeton undergraduates have direct access to many of the best minds in the world, including Nobel laureates, MacArthur Fellows, and Pulitzer Prize winners. Princeton’s approximately 950 full-time faculty members are leaders in their fields who conduct disciplinary and interdisciplinary research that pushes back the frontiers of knowledge.

Let’s check below for 10 of the most famous Princeton Professors in this article.

Read also: Who are the Most Famous Wharton Professors?

Jeremy Adelman

Department: History

In Princeton historian Jeremy Adelman’s popular course “A History of the World,” the world isn’t just the subject, it’s also the method. University undergraduates join learners around the world through the edX online platform for an introduction to the history of the modern world that examines the environmental impact of human development, the role of wars and empires in shaping world power, and the transformations of global trade, finance, and migration.

Miguel A. Centeno

Department: Sociology and the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

When Professor Miguel Centeno talks about the importance of college for low-income students, he isn’t simply drawing on his expertise as a leading sociologist. He’s also speaking from experience. For Centeno, college was never a foregone conclusion. At age 10, he immigrated to the United States from Cuba with his mother, who raised him on her own. In his neighborhood, most of Centeno’s peers never even considered college.

Sun-Yung Alice Chang

Department: Mathematics

As a Princeton professor of mathematics since 1998, Sun-Yung Alice Chang’s influence on new generations of mathematicians is one of strength and encouragement. Chang, a native of China and Taiwan, received her bachelor’s degree from the National Taiwan University in 1970. She attended graduate school at the University of California-Berkeley, where she wrote her doctoral thesis in 1974 under the supervision of Donald Sarason. Before arriving at Princeton, Chang taught at the University of California-Los Angeles. She has also held many short-term and visiting positions, including the University of California-Berkeley; the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey; and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich.

Anne Anlin Cheng

Department: English and Program in American Studies

When Professor Anne Cheng strolls the halls of Princeton, she isn’t simply making her way to class. She is also taking a walk down memory lane. A faculty member in the Department of English and in the Program in American Studies, Cheng is also a fond Princeton alumna who started her career studying English in the very department in which she now teaches.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

Department: African American Studies and Religion

For his students, there’s no question Eddie Glaude Jr. is a dedicated teacher.“I’m a liberal arts professor at heart,” says Glaude, who teaches in the religion department and the Department of African American Studies. “I came to Princeton because of its emphasis on undergraduate education.” Glaude is especially proud of having encouraged some of his best students to pursue careers as teachers.

Brooke Holmes

Department: Classics

Brooke Holmes, a professor of classics, spends much of her time in the fourth and fifth century B.C.E., reading and interpreting ancient Greek texts. But she is not firmly lodged in that era. In the classroom, she takes great joy, for example, in making the ancients’ approach to the body relevant to her students, including those who plan to study medicine after leaving Princeton.

Naomi Ehrich Leonard

Department: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

“Engineering is one of the less-understood fields, but it’s one of the most creative disciplines on campus,” observes Professor Naomi Ehrich Leonard. As a mechanical and aerospace engineer, Leonard is fascinated by synthesis, and she watches it happen in exciting ways in her classes and projects and across campus. “For someone who enjoys math and science and likes to integrate, design and create things, this is a wonderful place to be,” says the Class of ’85 alumna.

David MacMillan

Department: Chemistry

When David MacMillan, professor of chemistry, first stepped into a lab as an undergraduate, he didn’t think he would start off doing innovative research. And yet, that was exactly what happened. “I had synthesized a new molecule, and I was asking someone else in the lab where I could find a picture of what it should look like,” MacMillan recalls. “I was told there was no such picture because the molecule had never existed before.”

William A. Massey

Department: Operations Research and Financial Engineering

As the Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Operations Research and Financial Engineering, William A. Massey is a leading innovator in queueing theory, a field of mathematics that is critical to the modeling and design of modern communications systems. His recent honors include the 2006 Blackwell-Tapia Prize from the National Science Foundation and induction as a fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

Daniel Rubenstein

Department: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

The deep bellow of a lion resonates through the cold darkness outside the ranch house at the mpala research center. Through the window, one can see the Milky Way as it cuts a white streak across the perfectly black sky above Kenya’s high-altitude bushland. Near the fireplace, flanked by shelves packed with hundreds of classic books about nature and ecology, Princeton Professor Dan Rubenstein reflects on Mpala — a 5,000-acre multidisciplinary field laboratory that sits on a 50,000-acre reserve in central Kenya — as a place that is incomparably beneficial to students, especially those pursuing science.

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