In Memoriam
UBC Mathematics honours the memory of our former faculty members
PROFESSOR GEORGE "BUD" HOMSYGeorge "Bud" Homsy was a professor mathematics and mechanical engineering at UBC from 2010 to 2014. During that period, he also served as Deputy Director of PIMS. Bud had previously been a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford (1970-2000), a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB (2001-2009), and was an affiliated professor of mechanical engineering at Washington at the time of his death. He lightheartedly claimed to have set a record for the number of universities where he was a professor emeritus. He was a Fellow of the American Physical Society which awarded him its fluid mechanics prize in 2004 and was a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Bud's career is fully and neatly described in the following obituaries: "George Homsy, former chair of chemical engineering and acclaimed teacher, dies at 80" by John Sanford for Stanford University School News (June 2024) "Mourning the Passing of Professor Emeritus Bud Homsy", Faculty of Applied Science, Department of Mechanical Engineering (April 2024) |
PROFESSOR COLIN CLARKColin earned his B.A. at UBC and completed his Ph. D. at the University of Washington in 1958. In 1960 he joined the Math Department at UBC, where he began his research publishing papers on partial differential equations, functional analysis, and spectral theory. Colin founded several entirely new areas of mathematical-biology research starting with Bioeconomics in 1971, followed by Behavioural Ecology in 1983. Colin collaborated with biologists and economists at UBC and elsewhere, and worked with provincial, federal, and international resource management institutions. His book, Mathematical Bioeconomics: the Optimal Management of Renewable Resources (3rd edition 2010) is a classic in fisheries economics and a foundational text for students, scientists, and resource managers. Colin was the founder of Mathematical Biology at UBC and was considered one of the most influential bioeconomists of his generation. In 1997 Colin was elected Fellow of the Royal Society for his contributions to the conceptual foundations of biological resource management and behavioural ecology. Colin was also named a Fellow of the International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade (IIFET) in 2016. Colin W. Clark will be remembered not only for his intellect and profound scientific impact but also for his warmth, humour, and unwavering love for his family. His legacy lives on in the hearts of all who had the privilege of knowing him. In Memoriam Colin Clark, FRS by Leah Edelstein-Keshet Eulogy: Four Things that I Learned from Colin by Marc Mangel More about Dr. Colin Clark: "Interview with Alumnus Dr. Colin Clark" Mathematics Newsletter (2015 - 2016) |
PROFESSOR CHARLES (TIM) ANDERSONAfter receiving his PhD degree at Ohio State, Tim joined the department in 1964, specializing in ring theory. In addition to mathematics, he participated in international chess tournaments. After taking early retirement in 1987, he settled in Scotland and concentrated on his second career in art and photography. |
Professor Fred BrauerFred Brauer graduated from the University of Toronto in 1952, and completed his PhD at MIT in 1956. He was a professor of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, from 1960 to 1996, where he also served as department Head. After retirement, Prof. Brauer started a new career as an honorary professor in Mathematics at the University of British Columbia, where he became an active member of the Mathematical Biology group until his death in 2021. Fred was a pioneer in mathematical epidemiology, continuing to carry out an active program of research and to publish papers until his recent illness. Fred trained numerous students, mentored young scientists, contributed to organization of workshops, and wrote ten books. Prof. Brauer's most recent book, published in 2019 with two coauthors is Mathematical Models in Epidemiology (Springer). Fred is greatly missed by many of us who enjoyed his wisdom and breadth of knowledge, as well as his special sense of humour, his kindness, and his friendship. More from CMS Notes: Fred Brauer's obituary |
Professor Dominik SchoetzauDominik obtained his PhD from ETH Zurich, working under the supervision of Christoph Schwab. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship in Minnesota, he joined the Department of Mathematics at UBC in 2003. The main area of his expertise was numerical methods for partial differential equations, and in particular, finite element methods. He was a world-renowned expert in discontinuous Galerkin (DG) methods, and made significant contributions that turned those techniques into a powerful and broadly used family of methods. Dominik published several influential papers on error and convergence of DG methods, providing rigorous analysis for establishing their utility. He also made significant contributions on the efficient numerical solution of finite element discretizations of Maxwells equations and incompressible magnetohydrodynamics problems. Despite his health struggles, Dominik continued to produce impactful mathematical results in the last several years. One of his last research projects produced a sequence papers proving exponential convergence of hp-FEM for elliptic problems in polyhedral domains. Dominik was a warm person, husband and father. A brilliant mathematician, his outstanding contributions in the field of numerical analysis will be long lasting. |
PROFESSOR EDMOND GRANIREREddie was born in Romania, emigrated to Israel in 1950 and received his Ph.D. at Hebrew University in 1962 under Harry Kesten. His thesis treated the measure theoretic properties of amenable semigroups, an area he returned to many times in his long research career. He was active in research until his death. In fact, his last paper was published after he died. A member of the Royal Society of Canada, Eddie's main area was the general theory of locally compact groups. Edmond was known for his warm, ironic sense of humour, which was inherited by his son David, a well known stand up comedian and author. Edmond Granirer by Pnina Granirer and Leah Edelstein-Keshet for CMS Notes |
PROFESSOR ROY WESTWICKRoy Westwick was born in Vancouver and grew up in the Lake Cowichan area. He obtained his undergraduate degree and PhD from the University of British Columbia before studying abroad for some time. Eventually, Dr. Westwick returned to the Department of Mathematics at UBC where he taught for the next 35 years. |
PROFESSOR RODRIGO RESTREPORodrigo Restrepo earned his PhD at Caltech (Pasadena, CA, USA) in 1955 under Samuel Karlin in game theory and operations research. He joined the UBC math department in 1956. A popular teacher with a flair for administration, he is remembered as a thoughtful, gracious gentleman. Rodrigo Restrepo's Obituary: Rodrigo Alvaro Restrepo was born in Medellin, Colombia, on 06 November 1930. He earned a BA at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA, USA) in 1951, and then a PhD at Caltech (Pasadena, CA, USA) in 1955. His dissertation, supervised by Samuel Karlin, was entitled, "Tactical Problems Involving Several Actions." After a brief stint as a research fellow at Caltech, Dr. Restrepo joined the University of British Columbia as a lecturer in 1956. He rose steadily through the ranks, earning promotion to Professor in 1968. During his time at UBC, he supervised three M.Sc. degrees, and also directed advanced work by students in Chile and Brazil. Collaborator Robert D. Cooter recalls that, “As a scholar, he was unusually thoughtful and broad in an age of specialization.” Professor Restrepo’s undergraduate teaching earned exceptionally favourable reviews. He served the Department and the University actively throughout his appointment, including committee work that laid the foundations of the Department’s democratic heritage, and a 5-year term on the University Senate. He retired from UBC in 1995. Beyond the Academy, Rodrigo was known to his many friends as an art collector and a generous supporter of the arts. He collected works by local artists including Pnina Granirer, and made donations that helped the Vancouver Art Gallery fill key gaps in its collection of historical Canadian paintings. Rodrigo’s friends remember him as thoughtful, dignified, and gracious—a true gentleman, whose presence enriched our lives. |
PROFESSOR ROBERT MIURARobert Miura, whose area was PDEs, joined the UBC mathematics department in 1976. His paper with Gardner, Greene and Kruskal on the Korteweg de Vries equation and solitons was awarded the Steele Prize by the AMS in 2006. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the American Math Society. He held positions at New York University, Vanderbilt University, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Dr. Miura received his bachelor and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkley and his master’s degree and doctorate in aerospace and mechanical sciences from Princeton University. He was the co-editor-in-chief of Analysis and Applications and vice chair for the life sciences activity group of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). He served on the editorial boards of the Canadian Applied Mathematics Quarterly, Integrative Neuroscience and “SIAM Book Series on Monographs on Mathematical Modeling and Computation.” He also served on the scientific advisory panel of The Fields Institute. Robert M. Miura: 1938 – 2018 obituary from Dr. Nassif Ghoussoub's Piece of Mind website Information about Dr. Robert Miura: |
PROFESSOR DONALD LUDWIGProfessor Emeritus, Donald Alfred Ludwig's academic achievements are remarkable. Don skipped full 3 years of school as a young man, after high school he received a Bachelor of Arts in Music, as well as a MS and PhD in Mathematics from New York University. He authored many publications from 1960-2005. Don was an instructor at Princeton University, Associate Professor and Professor of Mathematics at NYU, Professor of Mathematics and Zoology at UBC. Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Zoology at UBC. He was honored by a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1970, was a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and fellow of AAS, Foreign member of American Academy of Arts and Science. Don was a scholar, musician, an accomplished mathematician and professor. He was a skilled outdoorsman, husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. He loved reading and spending time with numerous family members. Don has many relatives in the eastern US and friends around the world. Remembering Don Ludwig by Leah Edelstein-Keshet |
PROFESSOR MAURICE SIONMaurice was a Professor of Mathematics at the University of British Columbia from 1960 until his retirement in 1989, specializing in the field of Measure Theory. He is best known for his Minimax Theorem, but also wrote several books on mathematics, served as the head of the Mathematics Department at UBC and was instrumental in organizing the 1974 International Congress of Mathematicians held in Vancouver. In 2012 he was selected as a member of the inaugural class of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society. Maurice will be fondly remembered for his welcoming nature, his openness to the unexpected, his appreciation of good food and his enjoyment of music, especially the opera. Maurice Sion - Early Life by Sarica Sion About Maurice Sion a transcript of a speech given by Nassif Ghoussoub |
PROFESSOR ERHARD LUFTErhard Luft was awarded his PhD at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg in 1959 under Georg Nöbeling. Following his degree, he became Friederich Hirzebruch's assistant at Bonn. After that, he took a Fulbright Scholarship at Brandeis University and UC Berkeley. He joined the math department at UBC in 1963. His research area was algebraic topology, most particularly the topology of 3-manifolds. He loved teaching and interacting with students. His PhD students have all had successful research careers. Taken from Erhard Luft Fonds, compiled by Manfred Nissley (2021) Erhard Walter Luft Obituary (March 2017) |
PROFESSOR ALEX MELZAKAfter an undergraduate degree at McGill where he earned the distinction of being a Putnam fellow, Alex completed a masters degree at Harvard and a PhD at MIT under N. Levinson. Shortly after that, Alex took up a faculty position in Vancouver. He is arguably best known for his basic books on computational math, Companion to Concrete Mathematics (Volumes 1 and 2), bypassing the traditional approach to mathematical modelling, and Invitation to Geometry, his view of classical geometry. In 1943, as a youth, Alex was interred in Auschwitz, where his self taught knowledge of Latin enabled him to read the old medical texts, which were all written in Latin, making him indispensable to the doctors for their nefarious activities. Later, in another camp, he was employed as a slave laborer, dismantling crashed German aircraft to salvage parts. For the rest of his life, these experiences made sleep difficult, leaving him the nights to accumulate an encyclopedic amount of knowledge. He became an expert in many areas: for example the linguistics of the Basque and Chinese languages. Another area was woodcarving. After retiring, Alex published a two volume work of philosophical reflections on his experiences during the holocaust entitled "In Search of the Fulcrum: Accounts of Time Lost". (Both volumes may be obtained by writing to his son Adam.) Alex's epitaph to himself reads: "He had little to be proud of except perhaps for this: that he differed in almost everything that matters from almost everybody. This sustained him in his struggles by inspiring the belief that he could not be everywhere wrong. He was profoundly grateful not for a glimpse of horror that was vouchsafed him, but for the accident of strength to bear it and to rebuild himself several times upon new foundations." |
PROFESSOR BOMSHIK CHANGBorn in Inchon, Korea in 1931, Bomshik graduated from Seoul National University and subsequently obtained a PhD in group theory at UBC in 1959 under Stephen Jennings. The math department was expanding rapidly at that time, and he was offered a teaching post at UBC which he accepted. His research was principally in the area of Chevalley groups and their character theory and is still frequently cited. In addition to his academic career, Bomshik made numerous contributions to the growing Korean community in Vancouver, acting as an interpreter for civic and provincial agencies, writing articles for a pro-democracy Korean language newspaper, and hosting South Korean academics and dignitaries. Bomshik Chang obituary, Vancouver Sun (July 2012) |
PROFESSOR NATHAN DIVINSKYNathan ('Tuzie') Divinsky, who received his PhD at the University of Chicago under Adrian Albert in 1950, was an expert in ring theory, a chess and bridge grand master, a performer of Gilbert and Sullivan, a restaurateur and the husband of a future Prime Minister of Canada. His booming lectures may still be echoing through the halls of the mathematics building. "Nathan Divinsky obituary", The Globe and Mail (2012) "Nathan Joseph Harry Divinsky" by J.J. O'Connor and E.F. Robertson, MacTutor (2012) "In Memoriam - Nathan Divinsky", Chess Federation of Canada (2016) Nathan Divinsky Wikipedia page |
PROFESSOR BENJAMIN MOYLSBen Moyls was a master teacher with a flair for administration. He served as department chair, dean of graduate studies and UBC Master of Ceremonies. Apart from his university activities, he was known for his passion for music. Benjamin Moyls Obituary, Vancouver Sun (2007) |
PROFESSOR HUGH THURSTONThurston was an algebraist whose PhD was from Trinity College, Cambridge. From 1942 to 1945, he was a cryptographer at Bletchley Park, specializing in Italian naval codes. He joined the department in 1958. He published works on the history of astronomy and Scottish folk dancing. |
PROFESSOR RIMHAK REERimhak Ree was a Canadian-Korean mathematician who spent his whole career at UBC. In 1960-1961, he wrote two papers that made a significant contribution to the classification of finite simple groups by introducing a new infinite family of finite simple groups of Lie type. While studying for his PhD at UBC, his birthplace, Hamhung, Korea, became a part of North Korea, so he was left without a passport and thus stateless. Once this difficulty was resolved, he became a member of the math department. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Rimhak Ree Obituary, Vancouver Sun (2005) Rimhak Ree Wikipedia page "Rimhak Ree" by J.J. O'Connor and E.F. Robertson, MacTutor (March 2011) |
PROFESSOR STANLEY NASHDr. Stanley Nash was born in the Yakima Valley, Washington and was awarded his undergraduate degree from the College of Puget Sound (now the University of Puget Sound) in Tacoma, Washington. In 1940 he began studying statistics at the newly founded Statistical Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley; however, his studies were interrupted for four years (1942 - 1946) by World War II. In 1950, Dr. Nash received his PhD and then joined the UBC Mathematics Department. By 1967, he was the only statistician at UBC and was pioneer in the development of statistics in Canada. "Honorary Member 1986" by James V. Zidek, Statistical Society of Canada (1987) |
PROFESSOR DOUGLAS DERRYDouglas Derry, a BC native, received his PhD in 1937 from the University of Gottingen under Helmut Hasse. His research was mainly in convex and discrete geometry. "Douglas Derry Obituary", The Globe and Mail (2001) |
PROFESSOR ROY DOUGLASRoy received his PhD at The University of California Berkeley in 1965 under EmeryThomas. Originally an algebraic topologist, his most recent works involved multivariate data analysis, quantum mechanics and molecular spectroscopy. He also consulted with University Hill Secondary School for its early UBC admission program for gifted students. |
PROFESSOR LARRY ROBERTSLarry received his BS and MA from UBC and his PhD from Harvard in 1968. His paper with his advisor Barry Mazur on local Euler characteristics was used by Andrew Wiles in the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. Larry was dedicated to teaching, and this was recognized in 1988 when he won the Science Undergraduate Teaching Award. "Larry" an excerpt from the eulogy spoken at Larry Roberts' funeral |
PROFESSOR DAVID MURDOCHMurdoch was an algebraist specializing in ring theory who received his PhD from the University of Toronto under S. Beatty in 1937. He was the author of two books on linear algebra used at many universities. In his will, he donated a plot of land to the province to be included in a provincial park. |
PROFESSOR EUGENE LIEMANIS"Eugene Leimanis (1905–1992)" by Woodruff T. Sullivan, III (September 1993) |
PROFESSOR ELOD MACSKASYAs a teenager, Elod won his city's chess championship and competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin for Hungary in swimming. He earned his PhD in mathematics at the University of Budapest in 1942. Escaping Hungary during the Russian occupation in 1956, he became a member of the UBC math department, adding to its reputation as a hotbed for chess. |
PROFESSOR RONALD C. RIDDELLRon got his PhD at Berkeley in 1965 under Tosio Kato in functional analysis. He also contributed to the history of astronomy. Unfortunately, he passed away from cancer at a young age. |
PROFESSOR Ralph JamesAfter being one of the youngest students ever to graduate from UBC, James obtained a PhD at the University of Chicago in analytic number theory in 1932 at the age of 23. His adviser was L. E. Dickson. He then spent a year on a postdoctoral fellowship under E. T. Bell at Cal Tech followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Cambridge with G. H. Hardy. After this auspicious beginning, he joined the math department at UC Berkeley before returning to Canada in 1939. He joined the UBC math department in 1943 and became head in 1948, a position he held for 25 years. James was an expert on the Goldbach Problem and has the distinction of co-authoring a paper with Hermann Weyl reducing his collaboration distance with both Riemann and Einstein to two. "Ralph Duncan James" by J.J. O'Connor and E.F. Robertson, MacTutor (Nov 2006) "Ralph James dies suddenly at Salt Spring Island home", Page 3 of the Gulf Islands Driftwood (May 23, 1979) |
PROFESSOR walter gageDuring his forty five career at UBC, Walter Gage was a legendary teacher and humanitarian. He served as the sixth president of the university. The following links describe his life: "The Age of Walter Gage: How One Canadian Shaped The Lives of Thousands: book excerpts" by Shelley Fralic, The Vancouver Sun (2019) "The End of the Age of Gage", UBCReports (October 11, 1978) |