Being one of the oldest universities in the United States, Princeton has cemented its reputation as a leading institution of academic research since its foundation. Princeton has expanded to include schools of Engineering, Architecture, and International and Public Affairs in addition to its undergraduate colleges and graduate schools. The university is known today as a leading institution of academic research, conducting research in a number of areas, like jet propulsion, meteorology and the work being done in the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
The main campus of the university, the Forestall Campus has facilities for meteorological research and plasma physics. It houses Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, which sees its mission in developing scientific innovations as well as providing a high quality science education in plasma physics, fusion energy and technologies related to these branches.
Magnetic fusion research at the university dates back to 1951 and is associated to a great extent with the name of Lyman Spitzer, Professor of Astronomy at Princeton, who has dedicated much of his life to the study of hot rarefied gases in interstellar space. During the period 1970-2000 Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory has been regarded as a recognized leader in the magnetic confinement experiments. At present the research of the laboratory is focusing on a new fusion device, known as the National Spherical Taurus Experiment.
Research is conducted within a framework of close collaboration with scientists at other facilities, both domestic and foreign. Such theoretical and experimental areas as solar physics, materials science, manufacturing and chemistry benefit from knowledge gained in fusion research.
As of 2005, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory had 411 employees, including 3 faculty members, 14 in office and clerical support, 74 engineers, 79 administrative staff, 84 physicists and 157 technicians. Princeton Plasma Physics is justifiably proud that its staff members have been awarded numerous engineering and scientific prizes, including 4 James Clerk Maxwell Prize winners, 3 Presidential Early Career Awards, 3 E. O. Lawrence Awards, 2 R&D Awards, 2 N. J. Society of Professional Engineers Awards and 1 Nobel Prize winner.
Princeton University Library is considered one of the largest university libraries worldwide. Firestone Library is the main branch in the Princeton Library System, which houses six out of the eleven million volumes of the university. Additionally there are a number of libraries dedicated to specific disciplines, like Engineering, Geology, East Asian Studies, Architecture, Art History, Public Policy and International Affairs.
The university is also home to the Princeton University Chapel, which is the third largest in the world. In particular, it is famous for its precious stained glass collections, regarded as the largest in the country.
With the endowment totaling $11 billion, Princeton belongs to an elite group of the wealthiest universities worldwide. A significant part of this money is sustained through donations of the university's alumni.