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In his third year as President of the University of Minnesota, Eric Kaler continues to be focused on core priorities for the University including academic excellence, access for qualified students, stewardship of tuition and public dollars, a world-class research enterprise, and a deep commitment to public engagement and outreach, locally and globally.
Kaler received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1982. He has become one of the nation’s foremost experts on “complex fluids,” which have applications in drug delivery, food processing, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing.
His personal commitment to excellence was rewarded earlier this year, when he was named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies. In 2010, President Kaler was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, one of the highest honors for an engineer. In 2012, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano named him to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council, and in 2013, he was named a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.
Before coming to the University of Minnesota, Kaler served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y. from 2007 to 2011. Previously he was dean of the University of Delaware’s College of Engineering. He also taught at the University of Washington. He received his undergraduate degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1978. Eric Kaler and his wife, Karen, have two adult sons.one of Silicon Valley's 10 Influencers. Harvard Business Review named him one of 12 Masters of Innovation.
Alex Cook is graduating summa cum laude with high distinction with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. As a member of the University Honors Program, Cook completed his thesis on stock portfolio selection using online learning algorithms under the guidance of Department of Computer Science and Engineering Associate Professor Arindam Banerjee.
Cook spent his sophomore summer as an engineering project lead intern with Boston Scientific. Last summer, he was a computer science intern with Medtronic in Mounds View, Minn. Cook has accepted a full-time job as a software engineer for IBM in Rochester, Minn., where he will be working on real-time data analytics.
During his time as a student, Cook worked at the University as the facilitator for the First Year Leadership Institute and as a teaching assistant for Intro to C++ Programming. He pursued his passion for other cultures by studying abroad in Hong Kong for a semester, dancing a Bollywood performance with the Indian Student Association, and attending most Minnesota International Student Association (MISA) events—especially when free food was involved.
Cook grew up in Chaska, Minn. He was born in England to an English father and a Greek mother. He spent summers in Greece and England visiting family when he was growing up. To the dismay of his Minnesota friends, he is a huge Green Bay Packers fan.