Department of Bioresource Engineering
Macdonald Campus, McGill University
Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec H9X 3V9
robert.kok [at] mcgill.ca (Dr. Kok)
Robert Kok attended the University of Western Ontario, from which he received a BESc in Chemical Engineering in 1969, followed in 1974 by a PhD in Biochemical Engineering. Since that time, he has been employed at McGill's Department of Bioresource Engineering where he was granted tenure in 1984. Aside from his work in academe, he enjoys art, good food and discussion, and is an avid outdoorsman.
Personal views on Professorship
I see society as a living organism and the University as an organ thereof. That organ is meant to fulfill some very particular functions. In my mind these are: to be a haven for intellectualism, a bastion of free thought, an arena where open debate is encouraged, a place where knowledge is created and kept safe, and a home where students can study and learn without limits being imposed on them.
In this, what is the task of a professor of engineering? And, specifically, what do I see as my task? In my view of the University, I should be involved in the development of the philosophy of engineering; I should be studying and learning about the underlying principles of engineering; I should be attempting to discover more of these principles; and I should be teaching my philosophical knowledge to the students at a level at which they are able to absorb it. Overall, my tasks are: to quest for enlightenment and to facilitate that quest for others.
My activities closely reflect my attitude towards the University and my stated tasks. The overall driving force is, and has always been, a personal need to understand my universe in terms of an all-encompassing framework. My research program on biosystem modelling and simulation in a setting of complexity is the heart of my effort in this regard. Within that envelope I gather, process, and output information related to this specific issue, as well as the larger issues that enfold it. A very considerable fraction of my time is therefore spent reading and thinking, in study and contemplation. I write to discover, to purify my thought, and to learn. As pointed out above, the quest is for enlightenment; it is that which powers my effort.
I also spend considerable time in discussion with my graduate students, both past and present. In my opinion, it is their due to receive whatever help I can give them in their struggle to learn and comprehend, to aid them in their personal quest, wherever that leads them.
My path lies in question-space; I seek the glory and ecstasy of enlightenment. That is my contribution to the University, and to society at large.