Robby came to UNC in 1971 and became a Professor in 1977. He received his A.B. from Princeton in 1959, his M.A. from Columbia in 1960 and his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1965 under the direction of Professor S.S. Chern. From 1965 to 1967 he was a member of the Courant Institute and from 1967 to 1970 an Assistant Professor at Columbia. After a year at the Institute for Advanced Study in 1970-71 he came to UNC and played a big role in the massive restructuring of the departmen t that took place over the next several years.
Robby worked with great energy at whatever he did, and during his career he wrote more than 50 papers and three books on various topics in differential geometry and geometric partial differential equations. He collected a generous share of honors and re cognition for himself, and contributed still more through the education and accomplishments of his graduate students, of whom 13 received Ph.D's and 18 received Master's degrees under his direction. One of his biggest projects, which he pursued with grea t fervor, was to introduce students and colleagues alike to the wonderful and mysterious methods of Elie Cartan. In recent years he focused his attention on converting that part of the engineering community that deals with geometric control problems. Ro bby was a tireless traveler, and his active professional life took him to institutes and universities all over the world.
Robby was proud and supportive of all his students, both during graduate school and after graduation. His students followed many different careers from business to academia, and he made an effort to keep up with all of them. To honor his contributioins to graduate education the Mathematics Department is creating a Robert Brown Gardner Memorial Fund that will be devoted to supporting graduate student activities.