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Andlinger Center News

June 1, 2023
Four Princeton University faculty members received President’s Awards for Distinguished Teaching at Commencement. From left: Tamsen Wolff, Claire White, Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber, Rosina Lozano, and Jesse Gomez. (Photo by Denise Applewhite, Office of Communications)

Claire White honored for outstanding teaching, ‘turning cement into magic’

By the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment

Claire White, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, was recognized with the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University’s Commencement ceremonies on May 30.

The award, established in 1990, honors faculty members who demonstrate excellence in undergraduate teaching. White is one of four recipients of this year’s award.

“Those with the fortune to attend an engineering course taught by Claire White, or to conduct research alongside the renowned pioneer in sustainable cements and materials, tend to come away dazzled,” the citation for the award reads.

“I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on a few of her lectures, and I can’t forget her flawless ability to engage and keep the audience captivated,” one postdoctoral research added.

Both graduate and undergraduate students in White’s classes noted that while White maintains high standards of intellectual rigor, she never hesitates to assist struggling students or exchange scholarly insights. “Every idea I have come up with is welcomed and met with an interesting and fruitful discussion,” said one of White’s mentees. “One of her most impressive qualities is empathy.”

White’s ability to create “a supportive and collaborative learning environment,” according to a colleague, draws students from across disciplines and majors to her courses. Current and former students remarked on White’s impressive knowledge of her subject area and her ability to “turn cement into magic,” in the words of one student. They also praised her careful guidance of their own budding research projects and noted that her unwavering support and infectious enthusiasm makes even the most frustrating moments less discouraging.

“Former undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs recall her as an inspirational lecturer and generous mentor whose dedication to Princeton’s research and teaching mission defined their impression of what it takes to be a scholar.”

White has been a faculty member at Princeton since 2013. Her research focuses on understanding and optimizing engineering and environmental materials, with an emphasis on sustainable cements and materials for carbon capture, utilization and storage.

White earned a Ph.D. in chemical and biomolecular engineering, a B.E. in civil engineering, and a B.Sc. in physics from the University of Melbourne in Australia. She holds affiliations in the departments of chemical and biological engineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering, at the High Meadows Environmental Institute, the Princeton Materials Institute, and the Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering.

For the full citation, read the story that appeared on Princeton’s website.