What You Didn’t Know About This ’40 Under 40’ Professor

Professor Karst

Most of the Babson community knows Nathaniel Karst as an associate professor in the Math and Science Division. He teaches the Data Exploration and Analytics and Business Intelligence, Analytics, and Visualization courses to MBAs, and also has worked with undergraduates on their independent studies. Some know that he has nearly 300 Google Scholar citations. A few know he earned his BS in electrical and computer engineering from our neighboring institution, the F.W. Olin College of Engineering.

But, it wasn’t until Poets & Quants selected him one of 2020’s Best 40 Under 40 MBA Professors that we got know another side of Professor Karst.

P&Q’s annual survey seeks to identify “young business school faculty from around the globe, educators who have demonstrated research acumen, teaching prowess, and impact on students, former students, their colleagues, and administrators.”

What follows are excerpts from what the survey uncovered about this scholar with “remarkable versatility” who “raises Babson’s profile.”

His Research Involves Dams, Capillaries, and Fungi

“I use mathematical models to predict the behavior of a wide range of physical systems, ranging from how blood flows through the microvasculature to how landscapes accept and release water. My colleagues and I have discovered that even very simple capillary networks can exhibit surprisingly complex behaviors, water managers often grossly underestimate the amount of sediment building up behind a dam, and soil fungi can form self-sustaining whirl patterns visible by aerial reconnaissance. The world is full of interesting math.”

He Wasn’t Planning to Be a Business School Professor

“I wish someone along the way would’ve told me this was such a great career option. I sort of just stumbled into the whole thing. I think the b-school route is just not on the radar for a lot of technical folks, and yet you can have a really fulfilling career teaching applied content to bright students alongside wonderful colleagues. What’s not to love about that?”

He’s a Team Player

“Things can be really insular in a normal math department; maybe you talk to the computer scientists or some physical sciences folks, but that’s probably it. At Babson, I’ve worked with colleagues from a wide range of disciplines to create content that really sings for students. The challenge is that these have to be continually refreshed in order to stay relevant—if you’re standing still, you’re falling behind.”

His Favorite Genre Is Science Fiction

“I’m an avid cook and baker, love reading (science fiction in particular), always have a coding side project or two kicking around, and alternate between running, weightlifting, and yoga.”

He’s Catching Up on Better Call Saul

“I’ve really been enjoying Better Call Saul recently. It’s a spinoff of Breaking Bad, and so most people watching know how the story ends, at least in broad strokes. But, somehow that’s also what makes it so compelling: it’s really the journey, not the destination, that holds all the value. Also, Vince Gilligan is amazing at composing a scene.”

His Favorite Summer Getaway Is Maine

“As a transplant from the southern U.S., I’m still fascinated by New England—anywhere on the coast or mountains here is an easy “yes” in my book. This summer, I’ll likely spend time doing research, hiking, and puttering around at our cabin in Maine.”

Posted in News & Announcements

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