Arnold appointed vice dean for innovation at Princeton

Craig Arnold, the director of the Princeton Institute of Materials, holder of 13 patents and cofounder of two companies based on research conducted at the university, was appointed Tuesday as Princeton University’s new vice dean for innovation.

Arnold, who also serves as the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the school, will begin the new role July 1.

Arnold will be the university’s second vice dean for innovation, a role established in 2020 to provide academic leadership for innovation and entrepreneurship activities across campus. He succeeds Rodney Priestley, who recently was promoted to dean of the graduate school.

Princeton Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti applauded the announcement.

“Craig Arnold exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit of Princeton,” Debenedetti said. “Throughout the university, Craig is recognized for his pioneering research, his visionary leadership of the Princeton Institute of Materials, his entrepreneurship and his outstanding service on behalf of Princeton.”

Arnold will join the Office of the Dean for Research and work closely with DFR offices, including the Office of Technology Licensing, Corporate Engagement and Foundation Relations and the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council.

The role of the vice dean includes strengthening the university’s capacity to engage with technology investors, industry, entrepreneurs, alumni and other potential partners. The position leads the Princeton Innovation initiative and oversees the university’s efforts to grow Princeton’s culture of innovation across disciplines.

“It is such an honor to take on this opportunity to build bridges between the different parts of the campus and the external community,” Arnold said. “Princeton is such an incredible place for innovation, and I am thrilled to be able to serve the community and to help people create impact in ways that benefit society.”

Arnold has served as the director of the Princeton Institute of Materials since 2015. He leads a vibrant research program that ranges from basic science to applied technology aimed at developing a deeper understanding of materials synthesis and processing in areas including advanced manufacturing, energy storage and conversion, and optics and photonics.

In 2017, Arnold received an Edison Patent Award from the Research & Development Council of New Jersey for the creation of an adjustable lens that focuses light in response to sound waves. The tunable acoustic gradient lens is now used in many industrial and research applications, including robotics, machine vision, industrial metrology and ultra-high-precision microscopy.

He helped found both TAG Optics Inc., which developed the TAG lens and was later acquired by a major precision instrument manufacturer, and Invictis Technologies, which is working to create a safer and less painful automated intravenous injection device.

Princeton Provost Deborah Prentice said Arnold is the perfect choice for the prestigious and important post.

“The vice dean for innovation is the university’s representative for all innovation activities, connecting Princeton with external partners in industry, entrepreneurship, government and academia, and ensuring that faculty, students and staff can fulfill their aspirations to innovate in areas spanning research, education and service to humanity,” she said. “Craig Arnold brings to this position a wealth of firsthand experience in university innovation and entrepreneurship, and he has a long history of reaching across disciplines and across our campus community.”

Arnold is a preeminent researcher in the field of materials science; he and co-authors have published over 200 scientific papers and book chapters. He serves as a member of the National Research Council’s National Materials and Manufacturing Board and is a fellow of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers and the Optical Society of America.

Arnold holds a Ph.D. in experimental condensed matter physics from Harvard University and a B.S. from Haverford College. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the Naval Research Laboratory prior to joining the Princeton faculty in 2003.