The Scientist magazine has just published its 2008 list of “Best Places to Work” in academia, with Princeton University ranked number 2 on the list. An article accompanying the rankings leads with the example of Ron Weiss, an associate professor of electrical engineering and a pioneer in the field of synthetic biology. Weiss talks about the importance of mentorship, specifically acknowledging the guidance and support given him by James Sturm, the director of the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials and the William and Edna Macaleer Professor of Engineering and Applied Science.

When Weiss first came to Princeton, the department chair appointed Sturm as his “big brother.” “I could turn to him for questions about grants, managing the lab, trying to think about research directions,” Weiss tells Megan Scudellari of The Scientist. “It was wonderful.”

Weiss also spoke to MSNBC recently about the future of synthetic biology. And here is a video about Weiss’s student team in the iGEM competition.

By the way, the National Science Foundation in its multimedia gallery features a photo of the sculpture that Jim Sturm and Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman created with artist Nancy Cohen for Quark Park.

Photo (of Ron Weiss) courtesy Zennen Clifton.