Robert A. Gross

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Rush Holt
Guest User

May 08, 2018

Please pass along to the family of Bob Gross my sincere sympathy on their loss, about which I am aware only now. I hope they appreciate how much people outside the family liked him and how generous he was with his wisdom— certainly about science and engineering and about much more, as well. He was a wonderful person. From the moment I came into the fusion community, when I joined the staff of PPPL, Bob befriended me and coached me on the organization and politics of the community. When I ran for Congress Bob gave me encouragement and said I was doing the right thing. Every campaign he sent me some money and also wrote a note of advice or encouragement. I valued that greatly.

John C. Wright
Guest User

April 30, 2018

I was just learning about plasma physics in the 1990s as an undergraduate at Columbia University in Applied Physics when I met Professor Gross. I remember him as kind, knowledgeable and patient. I greatly enjoy his fluid dynamics course and later had the opportunity to work more closely with him as a teaching assistant. I continue to work in plasma physics and fusion today and I like to think that is in part due to the warm welcome and support I received from Bob then. My condolences to his family and the Columbia community for their loss.

Farhad C.
Guest User

April 27, 2018

I am fortunate to have attended as a graduate student in the 1970s the late Professor, then Chairman and later Dean Gross's plasma physics class lectures in what had been initiated in the mid-1960s as Columbia's Division of Nuclear Science and Engineering (an independent off-shoot of/from the Physics department), then became the Department of Applied Physics and Nuclear Engineering ("APNE") in the 1970s-1980s and later, having discontinued instruction classes in the Nuclear Science and Engineering program following the Three Mile Island nuclear power station accident, evolved into the present Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics ("APAM"). Even from my graduate-student vantage point at the time, I witnessed his continuous and very obvious striving enthusiasm for contributing to the feasibility of fusion energy and to the development of Columbia's role in the world's plasma physics program -- the theory, the engineering, the equipment, the people, the budgeting and, no doubt, the politics. Much of his kind and thoughtful personality, his lucid and generous science and his administrative skills are memorable and heartfelt and remain with me to this day and surely beyond. My condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. -- Farhad C.

Mike Mauel
Guest User

April 27, 2018

I'm grateful for today's Celebration of the Life and Career of Bob Gross.

Bob's contributions to our Department of Applied Physics, to our School of Engineering and Applied Science, and to the life of Columbia University have been immense. The Plasma Physics Lab, which Bob founded fifty-seven years ago has been my professional home and a scientific joy. Bob's textbook, Fusion Energy, reflected Bob's gift of clear thought and inspiration. He wrote to those of us working in fusion energy: "The early question was: Can fusion be done, and if so how? ... There is little doubt that controlled fusion can be achieved. Now, the challenge lies in whether fusion can be done in a reliable, an economical, and socially acceptable way.." These words remain true today and still motivate the field.

As I look back over the decades, every memory I have of Robert A. Gross, across plasma physics, fusion science, graduate education, and of professional life, is a memory of his enthusiasm, optimism, and delight in the role of the University.

I want to send my sincere "thank you" for the opportunity Bob has given me and appreciation to his family for sharing and supporting Bob throughout his inspiring and important work at Columbia University.

Marcia R. Josephy
Guest User

April 27, 2018

My late husband Karl Josephy had many pleasant memories of his time in the doctoral program at Columbia . He particularly appreciated the guidance of Dr Gross as his advisor and mentor both at Columbia and after he finished and left academia for research i " the outside world" . I was sorry to hear of his death and extend my condolences to his family.

Ahmet Y. Aydemir, '80
Guest User

April 26, 2018

I read with great sadness that we lost Bob Gross. It’s been some time since I saw him last, but I remember him as a gentle and wise, fatherly figure, almost always with that smile we see in the picture, who provided me with some helpful nudges in the right direction during my Columbia days. My condolences to the Gross family and to the APAM community.

Sam Gralnick
Guest User

April 25, 2018

Bob and Elly made each of us part of their family, and they were always there for each of us. We were his academic children not only mentored and taught but nurtured thorough our time at Columbia and for many years afterwards. His door was always open and his advice was always quintessentially spot on. His approach to graduate education and mentoring was a counterpoint to the forbidding arms-length discipline that many of our friends and colleagues experienced at other institutions and other departments at Columbia. He set the standard for what an effective mentor and adviser should be and do; a culture that still exists to this day.

John Kender
Guest User

April 25, 2018

As a member of the Department of Computer Science, my interactions with Bob were when he was dean, mostly with the planning of his initiative, the Schapiro CEPSR building. I was always taken by the sign he kept near his office entrance: "Festina Lente", Latin for "Make haste slowly". It seemed to summarize his general character, a kind of restrained eagerness. I later found out that the expression was also a technical term in laser physics, so it was even an expression of his considerable wit.

What I remember most was when our department was going through a pretty violent adolescence, splitting into two factions. He sought my perspective on it. It helped that I had minored in physics, as his metaphors were literally physical: "I wish I could just pour some liquid nitrogen on your faculty to cool things down." And, "If I can't limit the damage in space, maybe I can limit it in time." But above all, he was a scholar, a Great Teacher, a leader, and a gentleman.

Einar Halmøy
Guest User

April 25, 2018

Professor Gross encouraged me to come to Columbia from Norway. As a research assistant, I took part in building and testing the new high energy shock tube from 1966. I finished the first experimental thesis based on it. Unfortunately, I was unable to continue with fusion research, but the versatile training gotten under his guidance was very valuable later on in engineering research and teaching in Norway. We stayed in touch for many years and met a couple of times at Columbia.

Bob Gross was a friendly man and an inspiring teacher. I am grateful to him.

Einar Halmøy

Richard S Post
Guest User

April 24, 2018

I was fortunate to choose Columbia University to seek a PhD. I had no idea what it would be like. What I found was a strong group and a lab full of exciting experiments. Professor Gross greeted me and my wife, Janet, on our arrival and showed all the new experiments to learn from. The Plasma Lab and the faculty of the Plasma Committee, as it was known in those days, together with a group of both US and foreign students, made a strong, collegial atmosphere. This environment was carefully nurtured by Professor Gross. One aspect of this education that was as important as the class work and research was the close interaction with the faculty. Professor Gross did not just discuss our research, but also the problem of funding, challenges of working with departments, the administration, funding agencies, as well as career opportunities. This education was just as important to a successful career as the academic education. Professor Gross was interested in all the students, always made time available, and, after we left Columbia, was eager to follow our careers, our families and continued to provide advice, encouragement and his cheerful enthusiasm. My wife and I fully enjoyed our time with Professor Gross and his late wife, Elee. He will be missed by all of us.

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