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March 02, 2021 Tuesday 04:18:03 PM IST

Rob Phillips Awarded 2021 Feynman Teaching Prize

Teacher Insights

The 2020–21 Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching, Caltech's highest teaching prize, has been awarded to Rob Phillips, the Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics, Biology, and Physics in the divisions of Engineering and Applied Science and Biology and Biological Engineering.

Phillips was trained as a physicist, and held a professorship in engineering at Brown University before he came to Caltech in 2000. At Caltech, he began to specialize in the physics of living systems, and received a joint appointment as professor of applied physics and biology in 2011 before he was named Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics, Biology, and Physics in 2012.

His work focuses on the physical biology of the cell, specifically the importance of precise quantitative analyses in explaining the behavior of biological systems ranging from viral epidemics to the regulation of gene expression. His many honors include a National Institutes of Health Director's Pioneer Award, election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016, numerous distinguished lectureships, and the Book of the Year award from the Society of Biologists for Physical Biology of the Cell, a book that grew directly from his Caltech course of the same name.

The Feynman Prize was established in 1993 to annually honor a professor who demonstrates, in the broadest sense, unusual ability, creativity, and innovation in undergraduate and graduate classroom or laboratory teaching. It has been endowed through the generosity of Ione and Robert E. Paradise and an anonymous local couple.