Robert's scientific ambitions began to bear fruit early on, compelling him to leave home at the ripe age of 16 to attend the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics. At this two-year public boarding school, he packed his schedule with up to nine college-level courses per semester—including quantum mechanics, differential equations, and organic chemistry—in addition to playing drums in the school's jazz band, performing research with his faculty mentor, and tracking asteroids from the New Mexican desert with the Summer Science Program (SSP). After graduating, Robert left for Cambridge and went on to earn two Bachelor's degrees from MIT, one in Physics and another in Mathematics. Along the way, he spent two summers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory researching quantum cryptography and quantum simulation, and completed his Senior Thesis on gluon polarization. Robert next attended Carnegie Mellon University on the John and Marilyn Hall Research Fellowship. There, he repurposed his tools from quantum field theory to study novel problems in biophysics, which ultimately landed him a Ph.D. in 2016.
Robert hails from the rural Oklahoma town of Harrah—the self-proclaimed "Heart of the Heartland"—where he spent his formative years disrupting the prairie tranquility with his progressive metal band. His scientific calling later took him on an adventure across several major cities, but Robert retains his sense of appreciation for America's natural landscape and often takes road trips out to some of its hidden gems. During his undergrad and graduate career, when he wasn't scribbling equations or chasing elusive minus signs, Robert could be found in the classroom spreading the joy of physics and mathematics to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students. He also grew a very large beard. Twice.