Education Philosophy

The Brangwynne lab education philosophy is based on the premise that the primary characteristic of great educators is an ability to excite and inspire students. In Ken Bain’s book, What the Best College Teachers Do, he describes how great teachers tend to frame their classes as an invitation to an adventure, rather than a bureaucratic framework for unidirectional information transfer. Our goal is to inspire students to take up the challenge of this adventure, to journey where ideas are not simply allowed to sit still and be observed, like museum pieces. Instead, we kick the tires, tear down the ideas and rebuild them, hybridize with other concepts, and then re-evaluate to see if it still makes sense. By walking students through this process, they can be energized to repeat it on their own – discovering and creating in their own journey. When it clicks, there is no stopping them. We aim to use this approach to teaching and learning both inside the classroom, and in the laboratory.

Primary Courses Taught at Princeton


CBE 433/533

Mechanics and Dynamics of Soft Living Matter (S11, F12, F14, F15, F16, F17, S19)

This course introduces the concepts of soft condensed matter and their application towards understanding the mechanical properties, dynamic behavior, and self-assembly of biological materials, including intracellular structures, cells, and developing embryos. We take an engineering approach that emphasizes the application of fundamental physical concepts to a diverse set of problems taken from the literature, including mechanical properties of biopolymers and the cytoskeleton, directed and random molecular motion within cells, aggregation and collective movement of cells, and phase transitions and critical behavior in the self-assembly of lipid membranes and intracellular structures.

MOL 214

Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology (S18)

Important concepts and elements of molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, and cell biology are examined in an experimental context.

CBE 505

Advanced Heat and Mass Transfer (S13, S14, S15, S16, S17)

A survey of modeling and solutions methods for processes involving heat and mass transfer. Topics include convective and diffusive transport, conservation equations, scaling principles and approximation techniques, forced convection, multi-component energy and mass transfer as well as buoyancy and turbulent driven transport.

MOL 515

Method and Logic in Quantitative Biology (F12, F13, F14, F15, F16, F17, F18)

Guest lecturer