The MIT community is mourning the loss of a well-loved professor, Arthur Josiah Trent. Trent, 42, died on Tuesday night after a fire broke out in his Beacon Hill home. Trent’s wife, Hope Cahill, also perished in the tragic fire. Their two children, Amy and Dan, survived.
Professor Trent taught popular classes in nonlinear dynamics and quantum theory. He was famous for his laid-back teaching style. Trent was an avid collector of ninja items and would often use them to explain an idea during class. Senior Jeremy Peters recalls how “one day, he brought all these ninja toys to class. He started throwing them around the room. It was awesome!”
MIT students also appreciated Trent for his kindness and patience. When freshman Samantha Chung was struggling with advanced calculus, she met with Professor Trent each week for extra help. “He was always so nice,” Chung says. “I was often busy during his office hours, so he stayed late to wait for me. Well, at least he did when he wasn’t away on research trips.”
Trent was also devoted to his family. Chung fondly remembers a time when she found his four-year-old son, Dan, in his office. “Professor Trent didn’t like leaving Dan at day care, so he brought him to work sometimes. Every time I saw Dan, he was wearing the cutest little Spider-Man outfit. Professor Trent didn’t seem to care when Dan would try to climb up on his desk, even when it messed up all his papers.”
Police are still investigating whether the fire was the result of foul play. Neighbors recall seeing a strange limousine parked in front of Trent’s home right before the blaze started, but the police refuse to comment. There will be a memorial service for Professor Trent on Friday morning.