PIK Professor Receives Teaching Award

March 1, 2016

Robert Ghrist, Andrea Mitchell University Professor of Math and Electrical and Systems Engineering, has received the 2016 James P. Crawford Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics from the Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Section of the Mathematical Association of America (EPADEL). The award is given to mathematics teachers who are widely recognized as extraordinarily successful, have had influence beyond their own institutions, and who foster curiosity and generate excitement about mathematics in their students.  

A Penn Integrates Knowledge professor, Ghrist is well-known for his efforts to make higher-level mathematics more accessible, which include self-publishing (via Amazon and Google Play) a book called Elementary Applied Topology or EAT (which he also makes available for free on his website); the FLCT (funny little calculus text); and a comic-book-style four-volume set of books on calculus. His massive open online course (MOOC) on single-variable calculus for Coursera, has attracted more than 130,000 students from around the world.

Ghrist, who has appointments in Penn Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Science, specializes in a branch of mathematics called algebraic topology, the mathematical study of abstract space. It has wide-ranging applications including engineering systems, neuroscience, computer science, data, and more. Ghrist has published more than 50 papers in peer-reviewed journals and is a member of the executive committee of the Applied Topology Research Network of the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications. He is currently leading a five-year, $2 million research project for the Department of Defense.

In 2015 Grist received Penn’s Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. He was named a 2015 National Security Sciences and Engineering Faculty Fellow and received the Chauvenet Prize from the Mathematical Association of America, an award for expository writing, in 2013.  

Ghrist received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toledo in 1991 and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Cornell University. He joined Penn’s faculty in 2008.