Prof. Robert Gross Retires
Prof. Robert Gross, the Percy K. and Vida L.W. Hudson Professor of Applied Physics and former dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, has retired.
He served as dean of the engineering school from 1981 to 1989 and proposed the $80 million Schapiro Center for Engineering and Physical Science Research, which was completed in 1992. On arrival at the University in 1961, the Columbia scientist also founded the Plasma Physics Laboratory, now one of the nation's principal university laboratories dedicated to fusion energy research. He was founding chairman of Columbia's Department of Applied Physics and became a leading authority in plasma shock phenomena and in the equilibrium and stability of high-pressure magnetized plasmas. He has served on several high-level advisory committees to the U.S. Department of Energy on fusion power.
Gross has been doctoral adviser to 25 Columbia Ph.D. recipients. His excellence in the classroom was recognized by the Great Teacher Award from Columbia's Society of Graduates. His textbook, Fusion Energy, was based on the course he taught at Columbia for many years, and it has been used in similar courses around the country.
Gross graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1949 and earned the Ph.D. in applied physics from Harvard in 1952. He joined Columbia's faculty after six years as an engineer at Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corp., where he became a world-renowned expert in supersonic combustion and received the Waverly Gold Medal.
He has received numerous honors, including the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Fulbright-Hays Fellowship twice. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He was honored for his life's work by Fusion Power Associates in 1993.