Louis J. Gross is Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Mathematics at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, founding Director of NIMBioS, and Director of the Institute for Environmental Modeling. He received his B.S. in Mathematics from Drexel University in 1974 and his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics, with a minor in Ecology and Systematics, from Cornell University in 1979. His dissertation at Cornell involved laboratory experiments, field studies and models for the dynamic response of photosynthesis in strawberry to light variations. Since leaving Cornell, he has been on the faculty at Tennessee. His research focuses on computational and mathematical ecology, with applications to plant physiological ecology, conservation biology, natural resource management, and landscape ecology. As Director of the Institute for Environmental Modeling, he leads researchers working on an array of environmental problems from the biotic impacts of Everglades restoration planning, to invasive species control, infectious disease management, and risk assessment of environmental contaminants.
Dr. Gross has co-edited five books, including Individual-Based Models and Approaches in Ecology, which motivated the tremendous expansion of these models in ecology over the past decade. He co-authored Mathematics for the Life Sciences, published by Princeton Press in 2014, which teaches readers about basic mathematical and statistical methods that can be used to explore and explain biological phenomena. He has led numerous research projects, having been lead Principal Investigator on over $7,000,000 in externally-funded projects over the past two decades. He has been a leader in the development the ATLSS (Across Trophic Level System Simulation) project, one of the largest ecological modeling projects ever constructed, which has provided a critical tool in the ongoing complex restoration planning for the Everglades. The National Science Foundation has funded his research in parallel and grid computing for ecological models, ecological multimodeling and spatial control of natural systems. He was the recipient of the 2006 Distinguished Scientist Award from the AIBS. He is also a Fellow of the Society for Mathematical Biology.
Among his many leadership positions, Dr. Gross has been President of the Society for Mathematical Biology, Chair of the Board of Governors of the Mathematical Biosciences Institute, President of the Faculty Senate at UTK and Chair of the National Research Council Committee on Education in Biocomplexity Research. He is Program Chair for the 2008 annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America. He has devoted extensive effort to education at many levels. He was co-director for twenty years of a series of courses and workshops on mathematical aspects of ecology and environmental science at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Italy. These involved participants from over sixty countries, with an objective of building the scholarly infrastructure in the Third World to address environmental problems using their own talent. Participants in these courses are now leading research groups all over the world, educating their own students in environmental problem-solving. At the undergraduate level, he has devoted considerable effort to quantitative training in the life sciences, and was involved in several capacities in the National Academy of Sciences Bio2010 report (Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists). He developed the entry-level course on mathematics for life science at Tennessee, utilizing an hypothesis-driven format, with a focus on data and models, which he teaches regularly to large groups of biology majors.
Dr. Gross was selected as a 2018 Chancellor's Professor, in recognition of his distinguished record of research, highest standards in teaching, and exemplary university service. He received the 2018 SEC Faculty Achievement Award for outstanding teaching and scholarship. He was honored by the Tennessee State Assembly with a resolution commending him for his recent achievements and service to the Knoxville community, stating "Dr. Louis Gross epitomizes the spirit and commitment that are characteristic of a true Tennessean."