• 13 Questions – Dr. David P. Pope

13 Questions – Dr. David P. Pope

David P. Pope

When you have a lecture named after you (The David P. Pope Lecture), it’s kind of a big deal. Dr. David Pope first came to Penn in 1968 as an Assistant Professor in Materials Science and Engineering and rose to full Professor in 1982. He has served as  the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education in the School of Engineering and Applied Science from 1984-1988 and again from 1994-1997. He also served as Chair of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from 1988-1992, as well as Chair of Materials Science and Engineering from 1992-1994. He currently serves as Professor Emeritus in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.  We sat down to ask 13 questions with Dr. David Pope.  Please enjoy.


1. Your name?  What name, names do you go by?
David Pope, Dave, “Da Bi-tze” or “Lao Da Bi-tze” to many of my Chinese colleagues.


2. What is your favorite Color?

3. What was the last book that you read?

“Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus – Very funny book about important subjects. Wonderful leading character, Elizabeth Zott, who, like many of us, mistakenly think that being smart and dedicated are necessary and sufficient for success.


4. What did the fourth grader David Pope want to be growing up?

A carpenter!

5. What animal do you most identify with?

Our Cocker Spaniel  Always loyal and happy to see his family (and dinner)


6. What individual or moment has had the greatest impact on your life? 

My wife, Myrna, who introduced me to travel, cuisine, and other aesthetic experiences. These activities are still important parts of our life.


7. Your craft crashes/capsizes and you’re stuck on an island with five personal items of your choice.  What are they and why

Sun glasses – gotta see

Swiss Army knife – more useful than a hatchet!

A big stash of MRE’s (meals ready to eat, apparently awful food, but one needs calories)

A big thick novel, probably by a Russian author

A picture of my wife and dog to keep me hopeful

8. What wine would you pair with the following meals?  Asking for a friend.

Bacon Cheeseburger and Fries

A Malbec, a young one is fine

NY Strip Steak and asparagus

A chardonnay, e.g.., Martinelli, especially if this meal includes Myrna!


Salmon and Broccoli

We like big reds with salmon, e.g. a Ch. Neuf du Pope or a serious Calif. cabernet.



A serious Zinfandel,, b.c., zins have a little sweetness to go with the sweetness in the pizza sauce.

9. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Will you take three (they’re also a short biography)?

One wife.

One job. 

One house.

10.  If you were given two options: The gift of $1,000,000, or the opportunity to go back in time to relive your life, knowing what you know now, which option would you take?

If going back in time must include high school, I’d definitely take the $.

11. If you were able to have lunch with three people living or dead? Any reason why?

1. A. A, Griffith of Griffith theory of fracture. I could have visited him as a young faculty member, but was too shy.

2. P. Bridgman of the theory of large strain and fracture in metals. He died before I was old enough to even know about his work. Like me, he preferred to “fix stuff” himself.

3. Filippo Bruellischi, architect of the Florence cathedral. I’d like to know how he actually designed the dome and what is the function of the wood beams embedded in the masonry.

12. What are three of the most technological achievements in your lifetime?

1. Theory of evolution Darwin. Most important one of all time in my opinion.

2. Theory of fracture – Griffith. Forms the basis for how to use strong materials.

3. J. Willard Gibbs and the idea of free energy.

13. Penn Engineering is?

Is a wonderful place to spend one’s teaching career. Wonderful students, colleagues and staff.


Bonus question:

14. Favorite Film?

Das Boat, 1981, directed by Wolfgang Petersen. I much prefer the original (not dubbed, but with sub titles) German version. The ultimate non-preachy anti war movie, more powerful than All Quiet on the Western Front.

Previous 13 Questions Guests

13 Questions Kyle Keenan

13 Questions Eli Fastow

13 Questions Emily Beeman

13 Questions Joshua Chen

13 Questions Tom Mittelbrun

13 Questions Eric Stach