Penn's 7th PIK Professor
"A singular math and engineering sensation," is how President Amy Gutmann describes Robert Ghrist.
Who is Robert Ghrist?
He's Penn's seventh Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) Professor, an expert in applying mathematical methods to real-world engineering challenges. With joint appointments in the School of Engineering and the School of Arts and Sciences, his chair is funded through a gift by Andrea Mitchell and her husband, Alan Greenspan.
Ghrist, who has "an infectious love of teaching" and groundbreaking research in robotics and topographical hydrodynamics, is already sparking inquiry and new ideas in the classroom and across campus.
"I love teaching freshmen," he says. "They do not yet know what they cannot do, and, as such, can often achieve well above others' and their own expectations."
Andrea Mitchell, CW'67, the chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News, was just that kind of student, and she remembers how her personal history was shaped by impassioned teachers like Ghrist. Before covering the White House, Fidel Castro, or Darfur, she noted, "I covered Chaucer, Nabokov and Dostoevsky. My Ivy League degree and inspiration came from the University of Pennsylvania."
Dr. Ghrist shares with Andrea Mitchell a love of great books. "I have a secret wish," he confessed, "to disguise myself and teach a literature course: what could be more fun than teaching Dante?"
At Penn, however, the professor is focused on speeding technology transfer -- from the more esoteric-seeming branches of mathematics to robotics, sensor networks, and more.