View Full Version : Re: Kevin Granata killed at Virginia Tech

04-18-2007, 04:12 AM
Dear Biomch-L subscribers,

Like all of you, I am saddened by the loss of so many at Virginia Tech
and in particular about the loss of Kevin Granata. It is unfathomable
how such an event could occur. The world is diminished by their loss.

I was a post-doctoral research associate of Dr. Granata's during his
time at the University of Virginia. I learned many things from him
during my time there that I thought I would list:

1. Science is fun.
If you ever heard Kevin speak at a conference, one of the things
that was most notable was how excited he got when he presented a cool
idea or discovery he had just figured out. He was also excited when he
read other's work and was inspired by it.

2. To be a good scientist one should look broadly.
Kevin's research is most notable for his ability to cross
interdisciplinary boundaries, bringing the techniques of engineering
control theory to bear on improving the understanding of the etiology of
low back injuries and the neuromotor and musculoskeletal effects of
cerebral palsy. He was always looking for new ways to look at the
problem, searching the literature of other fields to see how they could
be brought to bear on the problem at hand.

3. Creativity in science is important.
The best example of his creativity could be seen in a tour of
his lab, which was filled with all sorts of wild and strange devices he
and his students had come up with to test various theories. Despite the
occasional horror of the physical therapists in the lab at some of the
strange devices, he came up with many clever ways to test the theories
he was examining.

4. People are important.
My father mentioned a story that I had forgotten about Kevin.
When I first came to Virginia, I had been living in Boston where a car
is unnecessary. As such my driving skills were weak and rusty. My
father had driven my car to Virginia and had come to Kevin's house to
meet up with me. When Kevin discovered it had a stick shift, he was
concerned that I might not be able to handle it. When I left that
night, and had to back down his long dark driveway, he watched me the
whole way to make sure I was OK. My father remarked "I remember how
gracious Kevin was when I brought the Jeep back to U-Va, how he was
concerned that it had a stick shift."
He thought a lot about his students as people and how to
encourage them to be the best they could be. He continued to be
concerned about me long after I left his lab, contacting me occasionally
to tell me about a paper he had read and keeping up on my research

5. Family is important.
Kevin worked long and hard. As a post-doc, I could never beat
him in in the morning and he often would work well into the evening.
However, he was also careful to reserve time for his family. He was
proud of his children and a loving husband and father to his family. I
remember one time when his oldest son had gotten into trouble at home.
The boy, who was no more than about 8 at the time, had taken it into his
head to pack his brother and baby sister into the van (making sure to
strap his sister into her car seat) and proceeded to start the van and
drive it down a steep embankment behind their house. Their mother, who
was at home at the time and had been distracted only for a second, was
upset and worried. I am sure Kevin gave the boys a serious lecture at
home. However, the next day, when Kevin related the story, it was
obvious he was really proud of his son for having figured out how to
start and drive the car at such a young age. Kevin regularly included
pictures and videos of his daughter in his talks on gait in children and
always seemed to beam when he spoke of her.

To conclude, Kevin taught me much of what I know about being an
engineering professor. He taught me not only how to write grants,
manage research and nurture students, but also how to be a good and
balanced person. He will be missed by all of his current and former
students and post-docs.

Sara Wilson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering
University of Kansas
3138 Learned Hall, Lawrence, KS 66045