Feb 5, 2015 | Atlanta, GA
Rosario Gerhardt, professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), has been named Tech’s new Goizueta Foundation Faculty Chair.
The Goizueta chair position is awarded to outstanding tenured faculty who have demonstrated excellence in research and teaching, as well as leadership in the campus Hispanic community and beyond.
“It’s exciting to me to be able to share my story with people,” said Gerhardt, who was born in Peru and had the experience of being an international student when she came to the U.S. for college. She studied and worked at Carroll College, Columbia University, and Rutgers University before coming to Tech as an associate professor in 1991.
In the interim years, she was granted tenure and later promoted to full professor in MSE. In her academic work, she has published more than 200 papers, garnered more than $5 million in research funding, and has personally advised and mentored more than 100 individuals at all levels, including faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students, and K-12 teachers and their students. Her scientific research focuses on determining the underlying structure of materials and how that structure affects a given material’s electrical, optical, and magnetic response. Her work has applications in areas such as electronics, energy, transportation, and security.
In addition to serving as an academic mentor, Gerhardt has also served as a guest speaker and supporter for several campus groups and is principal empowerment officer for HOLA, the employee resource group for Hispanics, Latinos, and allies. In 2011 she took on the part-time role of executive director for the Office of Institute Diversity.
Funding is provided to the Goizueta chair for academic and research activities and to support efforts related to service as a role model for Hispanic students. Gerhardt plans to use some funds for updating lab equipment, activities with recipients of the Goizueta Foundation Fellowship, and continuing her work with the GoSTEM outreach program. Though she works with these students already through her role with Institute Diversity, she hopes to grow those activities in the future.
“Being the new Goizueta Foundation Chair will give me a little more clout and more opportunities to interact with them on new projects,” she said.
In her personal life, Gerhardt has raised two female engineers, both Tech graduates, who work in science and technology.
“She is a true embodiment of what the Goizueta Faculty Chair at Georgia Tech should be — passionate about her job as a professor, committed to mentoring the underrepresented, and providing inspiration by being an example of what one can accomplish at an institution such as Georgia Tech,” said Naresh Thadhani, professor and chair for MSE.
Gerhardt looks forward to leveraging the role and resources of the Goizueta chair to continue her service as a role model and advocate for other underrepresented minorities on campus.
“It’s really important for students to know that it is possible to do whatever you set your mind to,” she said. “Sometimes it requires certain sacrifices, but the bottom line is, no one should ever feel that because they are from a particular group that they don’t have the opportunity. All that is needed is hard work and the will to do it.”
Gerhardt’s appointment officially begins Aug. 15.