Register, a leader in study of complex materials, named materials institute director

Written by
Office of Engineering Communications
July 14, 2022

Richard Register, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, has been named director of the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM), effective Aug. 1.

Register will succeed Craig Arnold, who served as the institute’s director for seven years. Arnold, the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was recently appointed the University’s vice dean for innovation.

Register studies the underlying structure of complex materials with a focus on exploring how those structures give rise to desired engineering properties such as flexibility or strength. He pioneered a fabrication method, known as block copolymer lithography, that has allowed engineers to shrink electronic circuits to vanishingly small scales.

A fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Chemical Society, and the American Physical Society, Register served two terms as chair of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. He was part of the research team that secured funding for the Princeton Center for Complex Materials (PCCM), supported since 1994 by the National Science Foundation, and previously served as PCCM director.

Register takes over the institute after several years of expansion. With core facilities in imaging and micro-analysis, and in micro- and nanofabrication, the institute has developed into a leading facility for analysis and design both nationally and internationally. Research volume has increased by 50% in the past three years, and course enrollment has grown by 35%. The institute has doubled the area of its facilities, adding three new centers and spearheading new industrial programs with the state of New Jersey. Register and Dean of Engineering Andrea Goldsmith credited Arnold’s leadership in growing the institute and strengthening its ties with academic departments and industry.

“The importance of PRISM to the overall strategic vision for the School of Engineering and Applied Science cannot be overstated, as materials will serve as the fabric of future technologies,” Goldsmith, the Arthur LeGrand Doty Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said in a statement announcing the appointment. “More broadly, PRISM is an essential partner across the natural sciences here at Princeton and for many industrial and entrepreneurial collaborators throughout the region.”

Goldsmith noted that Register is not only a leading researcher but also an outstanding teacher. She said his strength in the classroom will also aid in the institute’s critical role in collaborating with scientific disciplines across the university. Register is the recipient of teaching awards including the School of Engineering and Applied Science Distinguished Teacher Award, the Princeton Engineering Council Excellence in Teaching Award, and the Princeton Graduate Mentoring Award.

Register said he looked forward to leading a further expansion of the institute both in facilities and new faculty.

“I’m excited to move into the position of PRISM director,” Register said. “I look forward to working with departments to hire additional faculty to diversify our spectrum of research and to continue to build on the strength of materials research here.”