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Brian Kernighan recognized by Princeton Engineering for outstanding service

By the Office of Engineering Communications

The School of Engineering and Applied Science has honored Brian Kernighan with an award for excellence in service. This annual award was created in 2023 by the engineering school to recognize faculty for some of their most important work beyond research and teaching.

Brian Kernighan. Photo by David Kelly Crow

Brian Kernighan is the William O. Baker *39 Professor in Computer Science. In nominating Kernighan for the award, Szymon Rusinkiewicz, chair of computer science, wrote “in addition to his legendary contributions to computing,” Kernighan has “served the department, the school, the university and the field in a dizzying array of service roles.”

After completing a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Princeton and working for 30 years at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Kernighan joined the Princeton faculty in 2000. He has served as a director of undergraduate studies in the department since 2001, a time of enormous growth of enrollment in computer science. The role is now shared between two faculty members, with Kernighan serving as the point of contact for non-majors, pre-majors, and those who wish to study abroad.

Kernighan’s over two decades of service advising undergraduates, Rusinkiewicz wrote, “has made him an institution” and a “font of wisdom” on all matters related to the undergraduate program. He also teaches the department’s introductory course for non-majors, as well as independent-work seminars and freshman seminars. “It is Brian’s generosity that shines — he always has an open door for students.”

He has also served on many University committees, including most recently the Committee on Appointments and Advancements in the Lecturer Ranks. He has been a faculty advisor at Forbes College since 2001. He is an affiliated faculty member in the Center for Digital Humanities and has periodically served as its director. He is also an active member of the Executive Committee of the Center for Information Technology Policy.

Among other honors, he has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is a recipient of the USENIX Association Lifetime Achievement Award and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

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