Professor Kevin P. Granata

Age: 45

Professor of Engineering (Engineering Science and Mechanics Dept.)

VT Faculty Member Since: 1/03

Hometown: Toledo, OH

Educational Background: BS, Electrical Engineering and Physics (Ohio State); MS, Physics (Purdue), PhD, Biomedical Engineering (Ohio State)

Married with Three Children (1 teen-age daughter [11]; 2 teen-age sons [12, 13])

Died in the hallway of Norris Hall after responding to the gunshots heard.


Audio/Video Remembrances

CNN video: Tribute to Dr. Granata

Audio Remembrances From NPR (visit NPR's VT Remembrance Page to listen):

Ishwar Puri on Kevin Granata: He Was a Top Researcher, 'a Good Husband and a Fine Father'

Personal Remembrances From Family/Friends/Colleagues

From Virginia Tech's Dept of Engineering Science and Mechanics:

Professor Kevin Granata was a man with a sharp intellect who answered a call to serve the cause of scholarship and higher education. He died protecting students after he shepherded them into his office in order to safeguard them, and after he went to investigate and intervene.

Professor Granata was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio and received undergraduate degrees from Ohio State University in electrical engineering and physics. He later earned a Master's degree in physics from Purdue University. Thereafter, he worked in the Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland. He received his doctoral degree in biomedical engineering from Ohio State University and then worked in the Department of Orthopedics at the University of Virginia, where he was the director of the Gait Laboratory.

Professor Granata was recruited to ESM to continue his teaching and research interests. He had numerous publications and research grants and lectured both nationally and internationally. He distinguished himself by making many outstanding scholarly contributions. In particular, he developed innovative methods to quantify low back stability that are considered cutting edge by other leaders in the field. He served as mentor for numerous students and junior professors. When Dr. Granata was promoted to the rank of professor, one of these professors conveyed, “Countless times he has provided me with valuable guidance on research-related matters such as student advising, experimental issues, and manuscript preparation.”

Leaders in the field of biomechanics called him "among the top five biomechanics researchers in the country working on movement dynamics in cerebral palsy", as being "nationally recognized for his research", "as an internationally outstanding scholar and educator", as "often finding themselves quoting from Dr. Granata’s papers".

Professor Granta's greatest passion and pride was his family, especially his wife and children. He was also an athlete. He rowed crew at Purdue, participated in biathlons and triathlons and was an avid runner and cyclist. He loved coaching his sons' Lacrosse teams.

He served Virginia Tech with pride and dedication. We became better because of him. We will recover, rebuild, rejuvenate and excel in his memory. He will not be forgotten.

-- His colleagues and friends from Virginia Tech. We are Virginia Tech. We will remain ESM.

Submit your personal remembrance for posting here (please include your name and relationship).

Newspaper Remembrance Stories

Professor's Reputation in Department was Growing
(Roanoke Times Profile)

Their Norris Hall offices were three doors apart, so after joining Virginia Tech’s faculty in 2003, Kevin Granata and Demetri Telionis became friends. The fellow engineering professor visited Granata’s house, knew his wife and met his children.

They often talked about sports or politics or the business of the department.

But as Monday morning stretched into a long, wordless and worry-filled afternoon, Granata, a father of three and a rising star in Virginia Tech’s engineering school, still was missing.

Granata was teaching in Norris Hall when the massacre began inside the building.

After the shooting, staffers from the engineering department began driving from hospital to hospital, said Ali Nayfeh, a distinguished professor in the engineering school. They were trying to account for everyone.

Granata was not in any of the hospitals. No one received a phone call from the young professor who Telionis guesses was in his 40s. Time passed. Granata’s wife called Telionis’ wife. She was getting worried.

Athletic, confident and good-looking, Granata’s reputation had grown since he moved to Blacksburg from the University of Virginia, Telionis said.

Granata and his students worked on human stability and movement dynamics. He sat on committees and supervised graduate students. He would teach almost any course if no one else was willing.

He carried that same commitment from his to job to his family. Telionis tried talking Granata into taking up sailing, but the younger professor was often too busy coaching his kids’ sports teams.

When the news was confirmed Monday evening that Granata’s name was on the victims list, many people’s worst fears suddenly came to fruition.

“I was so much afraid this would be the case,” said Telionis, who learned of his friend’s death when Granata’s sister-in-law called his house. “He was probably one of the best in the department.”

— Erinn Hutkin (Roanoke Times, 4/18/07)

New York Times Profile:

One of two engineering professors killed was Kevin P. Granata, 46, a teacher described today by the dean of engineering, Ishwar K. Puri, as a "world-class" researcher and mentor to students. Dr. Granata and his students studied neuromuscular control, researching robotics, muscle and reflex response, and the mechanics of how people walk and run.

He served in the military, earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees at Ohio State University, and later conducted orthopedic research in hospitals. He taught at the University of Virginia between 1997 and 2003, before joining the faculty at Virginia Tech. His office was in room 307 on the third floor of Norris Hall, the building where the second round of shooting took place.

"He was one of the top five biomechanics researchers in the country working on movement dynamics in cerebral palsy," Dr. Puri, the dean of engineering, said in a statement. "The use of his research by other scholars worldwide had put him on a trajectory to become a notable star in these fields."

Teacher, researcher among USA's best
USAToday Profile

Kevin Granata, an engineering professor, was a rising star in his field, the dean of his department said in a written tribute.

"He was one of the top five biomechanics researchers in the country working on movement dynamics in cerebral palsy," said Ishwar Puri, the head of Virginia Tech's Engineering Science and Mechanics Department. Granata and his students researched robotics, muscle and reflex response, and how people walk and run.

Granata served in the military and later conducted orthopedic research in hospitals before coming to Virginia Tech. His academic career included stints at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Ohio State University, the University of Virginia and Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

"With so many research projects and graduate students, he still found time to spend with his family, and he coached his children in many sports and extracurricular activities," Virginia Tech engineering professor Demetri Telionis told the Associated Press.

Washington Post Profile:

Kevin Granata, 46, had two great loves: his work and his family.

He was a professor of biomechanics whose specialty was studying how human skeletal systems respond to stress and neurological dysfunction. Granata authored dozens of academic papers and conducted scores of experiments.

"He was a scientist, a hardworking scientist, trying to understand things," said Brad Bennett, research director of the Motion Analysis and Motor Performance Laboratory at the University of Virginia's Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center, where Granata worked before he joined Virginia Tech.

"He was great to brainstorm with," Bennett said. "He was the first guy in the morning and the last guy to leave at night."

His enthusiasm for his work was contagious. "He loved research, and he loved figuring things out," said colleague Sara Wilson, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Kansas, who had studied with Granata at the University of Virginia.

Granata had an engineer's practicality but also had a playful side, said Barbara Leech, another co-worker at the University of Virginia. He would wear a shirt and tie, looking businesslike, but team it with jeans and cowboy boots, she said.

Leech said her office has been "inundated" with calls of condolence.

Granata was a devoted husband to his wife, Linda, and their three children, Alex, Eric and Ellen, all in their teens.

-- Kirstin Downey, The Washington Post

Chronicle of Higher Education Profile:

Kevin P. Granata, 45, a professor of engineering science and mechanics at Virginia Tech, could talk for hours about his passion: biomechanics.

“He had an amazing intellect and would challenge every assumption,” says William S. Marras, a professor of industrial, welding, and systems engineering at Ohio State University. He was a mentor to Mr. Granata, who earned a doctorate from Ohio State in 1993. The two men had recently been awarded a grant to do research on how the spine reacts under stress.

Mr. Granata was widely known among scientists who study neuromuscular control and the mechanics of motion and stability. And he developed a special interest in probing how people with cerebral palsy move.

Colleagues of Mr. Granata say he published an impressive number of scientific articles (66) during his career. He was serious and unassuming and favored working with students over promoting his work at conferences and meetings, says Ian Stokes, a professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation at the University of Vermont, who works in the same field as Mr. Granata.

Mr. Granata’s office was always open and filled with students, recalls Raffaella De Vita, an assistant professor of solid mechanics and biomechanics, whose office was next to Mr. Granata’s.

Another Virginia Tech colleague, Michael L. Madigan, an assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics, says Mr. Granata was always available to listen to his concerns and offer advice.

Outside of work, he spent most of his time with his three children and wife. Mr. Madigan says Mr. Granata took up coaching his two sons’ lacrosse team this spring, even though he knew nothing about the sport, because no one else volunteered for the job. But Mr. Granata read all about lacrosse and ended up enjoying being a coach, says Mr. Madigan.

—Andrea L. Foster

Slain professor 'was trying to help'

Granata met wife at Purdue

Journal & Courier (Indiana) / (Purdue Univ.)

Kevin Granata got most of his higher education from Ohio State University, but it was his three years at Purdue that shaped the rest of his life.

Granata, 45, met his wife, Linda, at Purdue when both were on the Purdue Crew Club, said Granata's brother, Paul Granata.

Kevin Granata was one of 32 people killed Monday by a gunman at Virginia Tech University. He leaves behind his parents, a brother, two sisters, his wife and three children, Alex, 13, Eric, 12, and Ellen, 11.

"Our parents are very devastated, his wife is very devastated, as are his three children," Paul Granata said. "He was very loving with his family."

Paul Granata said details are still fuzzy, but family members who traveled to the school were told Kevin Granata went to his office early to work on research and heard the shots being fired. He had an office near the shooting rampage.

"I was told he came out of his office to see what was going on and he was trying to help people," Paul Granata said. "Unfortunately, in the process of trying to help people, he was shot."

Kevin Granata earned his master's degree in physics from Purdue in 1986 and built a resume that made him a nationally known name in biomechanical engineering, working on movement dynamics in cerebral palsy. His school Web site says he published 67 works through 2005 and worked at Johns Hopkins University, Ohio State, the University of Virginia and Wake Forest University.

"He was doing a lot of research. He lectured both nationally and internationally in his field," Paul Granata said. "He was gifted, he had lots of talent and he pushed himself to use that."

Eric Nauman, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue, said Granata was likely in the top five or 10 in the country.

"He was definitely well-established and accomplished," Nauman said. "He was definitely a wonderful researcher."

Fellow professors at Virginia Tech said Granata impressed them professionally and personally.

"With so many research projects and graduate students, he still found time to spend with his family, and he coached his children in many sports and extracurricular activities," said engineering professor Demetri P. Telionis. "He was a wonderful family man. We will all miss him dearly."

Kevin Sauer, Granata's crew coach at Purdue and now women's head rowing coach at the University of Virginia, said he talked to Granata in recent years when both worked at Virginia.

"We just kind of caught up since we hadn't talked in 20 years," Sauer said. "He was feisty. He wasn't the biggest guy in the world for rowing, but he was tough and worked very, very hard."

Sauer said Granata talked a lot about his wife and three children.

Kevin Kiser, who was on the crew team with Granata, remembers Granata as a positive person, even during tough times.

"He always had a smile, even after a hard workout," Kiser said. "Even after a bad race, he was always the one to be positive and pick us up."

It's that positive attitude a lot of people remembered about Granata.

"He would just come in and chat sometimes," said Sandy Formica, graduate secretary in physics at Purdue. "I remember him and what a nice, kind person he was."

Formica said she remembers most of the graduate students over her 27 years at the university, but Granata's personality made him stand out.

"You remember people like that because they stop in and say hello to you," Formica said. "That's just the type of person he was."

By Brian Wallheimer


Virginia Tech Magazine Profile (5/07)

Dr. Kevin Granata, a professor in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics (ESM), was known by friends and colleagues as a man who was passionate — first and foremost about his wife, Linda, and their children, Eric, Alex, and Ellen, and also about his work as an educator and researcher.

“Professor Granata distinguished himself by making many outstanding scholarly contributions,” said ESM Department Head Dr. Ishwar Puri.  “He has been hailed by experts in the field of biomechanics as one of the top five researchers in the nation for his studies of movement dynamics in cerebral palsy.”

Kevin was also an athlete who participated in biathlons and triathlons and coached his sons’ lacrosse teams.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1961, Kevin completed undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering and physics at Ohio State University (OSU) and a master’s degree in physics at Purdue University, where he met Linda. He worked in the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, later returning to OSU to earn his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering.

In 1997, Dr. Granata was recruited by the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Virginia to direct research in the Motion Analysis and Motor Performance Laboratory, a position he held until joining the Virginia Tech ESM faculty in 2003.

At Virginia Tech he established the Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Laboratory, a top-flight research facility he co-directed with colleague Dr. Michael Madigan of ESM.

“Dr. Granata’s research vision was to develop a center to study the essence of human movement and how machines, braces, and walking devices could be developed to overcome human disability,” wrote Dr. Mark Abel, a professor of orthopaedics at UVA.

Dr. Sara Wilson, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Kansas and a former post-doctoral research associate of Dr. Granata’s at UVA, wrote in a tribute that he taught her several important lessons — science is fun, to be a good scientist one should look across interdisciplinary boundaries, creativity in science is important, people are important, and family is important.

“Kevin was a visionary scientist who truly believed in the possibilities of changing the world through theoretical and empirical research,” said Dr. Thurmon Lockhart of Virginia Tech’s Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. “As a friend, he was caring and pure of heart. He gave me guidance about living a simple life. He was my friend, my colleague, and my mentor, and he will be truly missed.”

Memorial Faculty Support Fund

Through the Virginia Tech Foundation, the Kevin P. Granata Memorial Faculty Support Fund has been established at Virginia Tech in his memory. For more information and/or to donate to this memorial fund, see VT's Hokie Spirit Memorial Funds page.