Gropp received his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Case Western Reserve University, a master’s in Physics from the University of Washington and completed his Ph.D. in Computer Science at Stanford University. He joined the University of Illinois in 2007 as the Paul and Cynthia Saylor Professor in the Department of Computer Science. From 2008 to 2014, he was the deputy director for research for the Institute of Advanced Computing Applications and Technologies at NCSA.
In 2011, Gropp became the founding director of the Parallel Computing Institute, a unit within the College of Engineering. In 2013, he was the first person to be selected for the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in Computer Science, a professorship position established by the famous Siebel Systems founder and UIUC alumnus. In 2016, he was appointed as acting director of NCSA, officially becoming director in 2017.
Gropp helped create the Message Passing Interface (MPI) and the Portable, Extensible Toolkit for Scientific Computation (PETSc) with the team receiving an R&D 100 Award in 2009 as well as another R&D 100 award for MPICH, a freely available, portable implementation of MPI.
Gropp is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) as well as an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering. He was the 2022 President of the IEEE Computer Society, the largest society within IEEE. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Computing Community Consortium.