skip to main content
Home  /  Programs and Resources  /  Feynman Teaching Prize

Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching

The Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching was established in 1993 to honor annually a professor who demonstrates, in the broadest sense, unusual ability, creativity, and innovation in undergraduate and graduate classroom or laboratory teaching.

The late Richard Feynman, one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists and original thinkers of the 20th century, epitomizes Caltech for many. Although Feynman's Nobel-prize winning research (he won in 1965) was largely completed before he came to Caltech in 1949, he continued to make discoveries at Caltech that many felt should have won him a second Nobel Prize. Beloved by students as a friend and teacher, Feynman also found time to perform year after year in Caltech student dramatic productions. A drummer and artist as well as a physicist and actor, in 1985 he also turned popular author and published an irreverent memoir - Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman - that spent 14 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. In 1986, he became known to an even larger audience through his participation - and his famous ice-water experiment - on the Presidential Commission investigating the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Commenting on Feynman's appointment to the commission, one Caltech colleague came as close as any to summing up the essential quality of his genius: "Do they realize," he wondered, "that Feynman asks questions - and keeps asking them until he gets answers?"

Endowed through the generosity of Ione and Robert E. Paradise and an anonymous local couple, the prize consists of a cash award of $3,500, matched by an equivalent raise in the annual salary of the awardee.

All tenure-track and tenured professorial faculty of the Institute are eligible, and nominations for the Feynman Teaching Prize are welcome from faculty, students, postdoctoral scholars, staff, and alumni.

Feynman Prize Recipients

2022-2023 Lulu Qian, Bioengineering
2021-2022 Maura Dykstra, History
2020-2021 Rob Phillips, Biophysics, Biology, and Physics
2019-2020 Melany Hunt, Mechanical Engineering
2018-2019 Ali Hajimiri, Electrical Engineering
2017-2018 Harry Gray, Chemistry
2016-2017 Brian Stoltz, Chemistry
2015-2016 Ellen Rothenberg, Biology
2014-2015 Kevin Gilmartin, English
2013-2014 Steven Frautschi, Theoretical Physics
2012-2013 John Johnson, Planetary Astronomy
2011-2012 Paul Asimow, Geology and Geochemistry 
2010-2011 Morgan Kousser, History and Social Science 
2009-2010 Dennis Dougherty, Chemistry 
2008-2009 Shuki Bruck, Computation and Neural Systems and Electrical Engineering 
2007-2008 Zhen-Gang Wang, Chemical Engineering 
2006-2007 Michael Brown, Planetary Astronomy 
2005-2006 Richard Murray, Control and Dynamical Systems 
2004-2005 Christopher Brennen, Mechanical Engineering 
2003-2004 George Rossman, Mineralogy 
2002-2003 Niles Pierce, Applied and Computational Mathematics 
2001-2002 Joseph Kirschvink, Geobiology 
2000-2001 David Stevenson, Planetary Science 
1999-2000 Donald Cohen, Applied Mathematics 
1998-1999 Emlyn Hughes, Physics 
1997-1998 Barbara Imperiali, Chemistry 
1996-1997 R. David Middlebrook, Electrical Engineering 
1995-1996 Yaser Abu-Mostafa, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science 
1994-1995 Erik Antonsson, Mechanical Engineering 
1993-1994 Tom Tombrello, Basic and Applied Physics