Claire GmachlClaire Gmachl, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering, has been appointed vice dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. She will succeed Pablo Debenedetti on July 1, when he assumes his new position as the University’s dean for research.

Gmachl’s research focuses on quantum devices, particularly lasers, and their potential use in sensor systems for environmental monitoring and health care. She is the director of the University’s MIRTHE Center (Mid-InfraRed Technologies for Health and the Environment). MIRTHE, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and involving researchers from several universities, is using lasers and related technology to develop systems to detect small amounts of chemicals in the atmosphere or in human breath. The systems have applications in environmental protection, medical diagnosis and national security.

In addition to her academic role, Gmachl served as interim vice dean when Debenedetti was on sabbatical in 2012. Dean H. Vincent Poor said her excellent performance in that post, as well has her teaching skills made her an ideal candidate for vice dean.

“This combination of skill in directing high-level research and mentoring students will be a great asset as she undertakes the responsibilities of vice dean,” he said in an email announcing her appointment.

As vice dean, Gmachl will oversee the allocation of research resources, space and facilities. She will also assume responsibility for the promotion of new research initiatives and industrial collaboration, and for the facilitation of international initiatives.

Gmachl joined the Princeton faculty in 2003. Before that she held the title of Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at Bell Labs.

In 2005, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for her work on quantum cascade lasers. She is a corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Gmachl earned her Ph.D. in 1995 from the Technical University of Vienna.