Falcone wins University Teaching Award

By Wendy Plump
Friday, Apr. 16, 2021

Nicholas Falcone, a second-year graduate student in the Sorensen Lab, has won a Graduate School Teaching Award for exceptional contributions during the fall semester as an assistant in instruction at the Department of Chemistry.

Falcone, the head preceptor for Chem 304 and an assistant instructor for Chem 301, is one of 34 graduate students selected from across the campus to receive this highly competitive award. The annual program is administered by the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School and the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning

Nicholas Falcone, one of 34 grad students across campus to receive a Graduate School Teaching Award.
Nicholas Falcone, one of 34 grad students across campus to receive a Graduate School Teaching Award.
Photo courtesy of Nicholas Falcone

“The University’s unprecedented move to online courses and meetings last spring semester and continued limitations around in‐person courses this academic year have again reminded all of us at the University of the essential and critical role graduate students play in the teaching and research mission of Princeton,” wrote Deputy Dean and Acting Dean of the Graduate School Cole Crittenden in a letter to Falcone. 

Falcone said this is an especially important award for him because he realizes the value of the mentorship he received as an undergraduate at Hamilton College in New York.

“I didn’t come from a background where my whole family was in chemistry or I had a ton of people around me when I was growing up who did what I wanted to do. So it was very hard to find that support,” said Falcone, whose research here at Frick Laboratory focuses on natural products synthesis. “When I found those people and they cared and put in a lot of time on my behalf, that meant the world to me. I would not be here without them.

“Career-wise, this is also something that I want to do. I would love to teach at a primarily undergraduate institution like Hamilton,” Falcone added. “I really care about this a lot and I really care about the students. It’s very rewarding to go through this process with them.”

Falcone was nominated for the award by Erik Sorensen, Arthur Allan Patchett Professor in Organic Chemistry and professor of chemistry. “Nick's dedication to the teaching of undergraduate organic chemistry at Princeton is extraordinary,” said Sorensen. “The numerous emails I received from his students praising his dedication to their learning definitely contributed to my decision to nominate him for this distinction. It's actually rare to receive unsolicited emails from students in the course of the semester.

“As my head preceptor, Nick handles his duties with the highest level of skill and enthusiasm. It is a real pleasure to work with him.” 

Falcone graduated from Hamilton in 2019 with honors in chemistry. There, he worked with Robin Kinnel using synthetic methods to prepare potentially bioactive analogs of cryptomaldamide. He also did research with Dirk Trauner at New York University. 

Falcone won the David V. Milligan ’62 Fellowship from the Department of Chemistry in May 2020.