Award-Winning Scientist to Be First Faculty Cluster Chair

Dartmouth Now

July 7, 2015

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and award-winning scientist Rahul Sarpeshkar has been named the inaugural Thomas E. Kurtz Chair in the William H. Neukom Academic Cluster in Computational Science, President Phil Hanlon ’77 announced today.

Rahul Sarpeshkar
Rahul Sarpeshkar will begin his work as the inaugural Thomas E. Kurtz Chair in the William H. Neukom Academic Cluster in Computational Science on Sept. 1. (Photo courtesy of Rahul Sarpeshkar)

Sarpeshkar, whose interdisciplinary work is in bioengineering, electrical engineering, and biophysics, is the first scholar appointed to one of the College’s academic clusters. The clusters, designed by faculty from across the institution to address major global challenges, are part of President Hanlon’s vision for strengthening academic excellence at Dartmouth and among the programs supported by recent major gifts.

Sarpeshkar is the lead faculty member in the Neukom cluster, which will explore the computational and engineering principles of intelligence. His pioneering work on analog circuits and biological systems has created or discovered unifying computational motifs, principles, and circuits in biology, engineering, physics, and medicine.

“I am thrilled to join Dartmouth because of its vision and commitment to support cross-disciplinary research via the incredible Kurtz chair, its excellent and highly collegial faculty in all departments, the close proximity and relative lack of borders between its schools, and my ability to use the unifying language of analog and physical computation to impact many fields through the Neukom cluster,” says Sarpeshkar.

He will begin work on Sept. 1 as a tenured professor of engineering at Thayer School of Engineering, and will hold the rank of professor in three other departments: the Department of Physics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and at the Geisel School of Medicine he will be a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and in the Department of Physiology and Neurobiology. Sarpeshkar’s lab and teaching will involve students and faculty from all four departments. ...

... Thayer Professor Laura Ray co-led the search committee for the Neukom chair with Professor Richard Granger. The other members were Professor George Cybenko, Associate Professor Amar Das, Assistant Professor Gevorg Grigoryan, Professor Daniel Rockmore, and Associate Professor Lorenzo Torresani.

“I could not be more pleased with the outcome of this search. What we envisioned when we wrote the proposal for the cluster was someone exactly like Rahul, someone working at the intersection of several disciplines who would understand computation in a fundamentally new way,” says Ray.

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