When Gregor Andrade ’92 first saw MIT, he was just shy of his fifth birthday. His father, Gilberto Andrade NUE ’78, had come to MIT from their native Brazil for a degree in nuclear engineering. The family returned to the São Paulo region, but Gregor’s time in Cambridge had left a deep impression. In 1988, he returned to MIT as an undergraduate.
“For a kid from Brazil, an education from a top American university was very costly at that time. My parents contributed everything they could, and MIT stepped up, very generously, with a scholarship. I’ll always remember that.” In 2006, Gregor and his wife, Melinda, gave back to MIT—and today’s students—by creating the Andrade Family Scholarship Fund for undergraduates. “It makes me proud that our family was able to create this scholarship,” says Melinda. When she and Gregor considered what contributions they might make to change lives, they agreed: “The answer is education.”
Gregor has spent his career in finance, but when he came to MIT, he was planning to become a physicist. Before long, however, he was drawn to economics and finance, inspired by then-MIT faculty member and economist Paul Krugman PhD ’77 and finance scholar Andrew Lo, the Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
While at the Institute, Gregor also treasured MIT’s international community, which was “very welcoming, full of different languages and cultures.” He was proud to row for the men’s crew team, coached by Stu Schmill ’86, now dean of Admissions and Student Financial Services. Crew is “the ultimate team sport,” Gregor says, because everyone must be “perfectly in sync, with the same energy and direction.”
After MIT, Gregor headed to the University of Chicago for a PhD in finance. He met Melinda Ewing through the university’s executive MBA program in Barcelona, Spain. At the time, Melinda was managing a busy career in Prague, where she ran her own public relations firm. After navigating a cross-Atlantic relationship—no easy feat, Melinda recalls, in the days of “dial-up email”—the pair returned stateside and began a new chapter, in Cambridge.
After teaching at Harvard Business School, Gregor transitioned to AQR Capital Management, an investment firm that utilizes technology, data, and behavioral finance to serve a global clientele. “AQR was a great fit for me, because their investing is research driven, which was natural to me because of my training. And we engage with clients in a very educational way.” Today, Gregor is global head of institutional business development at AQR. The Andrades reside in New Canaan, Connecticut, with their 15-year-old twin daughters and 13-year-old son.
“We now, officially, have three teenagers,” Gregor says. “And we’re still sane!” Melinda adds, laughing. Asked to describe their parents, the kids give Gregor and Melinda loving reviews: Dad is “intelligent, objective, humble, and funny,” and Mom is “bright, curious, nurturing, and very organized.”
In April 2019, Gregor and Melinda were delighted to attend the annual scholarship and UROP brunch at MIT celebrating scholarship donors and recipients. “The students were fascinating,” says Melinda, adding that the event made them both feel even more connected to MIT.
Gregor adds that while many types of gifts to MIT are important, directing his contributions to scholarships has made giving back feel “even more powerful.” As the world faces complex challenges like Covid-19, he believes the strengths of MIT, and its students, are more relevant than ever. To solve complex human problems, he says, we must “be guided by science, let research speak,” and continually search for truth. “Those are the values that MIT has always stood for.”