Pablo Debenedetti is the Class of 1950 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science and Dean for Research at Princeton University, where he has spent his entire professional career. He served as Chair of Princeton’s Chemical Engineering Department (1996-2004) and Vice Dean of the School of Engineering (2008-2013). He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Chemical Engineering at the University of Buenos Aires (1978) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MSc 1981, PhD 1984).
His research interests include the thermodynamics and statistical mechanics of liquids and glasses; water and aqueous solutions; protein thermodynamics; nucleation; metastability; and the origin of biological homochirality. Using advanced computational methods, Debenedetti and his students uncovered the relationship between the dynamics of glass-forming liquids and their underlying energy landscape; proved the existence of distinct metastable liquid phases in a molecular model of water; and performed the first direct calculation of the rate of ice nucleation in a molecular model of water. He is the author of one book, Metastable Liquids, and more than 270 scientific articles.
Debenedetti’s honors include the NSF’s Presidential Young Investigator Award (1987), the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (1989), a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1991), the Professional Progress (1997), Walker (2008), and Institute Lecture (2013) awards from the AIChE, the J. M. Prausnitz Award in Applied Chemical Thermodynamics (2001), the Hildebrand Award in the Theoretical and Experimental Chemistry of Liquids from the ACS (2008), and the Guggenheim Medal from the Institution of Chemical Engineers (2017). He received the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching (2008), Princeton’s highest distinction for teaching. In 2008 Debenedetti was named one of 100 Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era by the AIChE. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of AAAS, AIChE and APS.