Mathematics
Ireland

Illinois Irish Mathematics (Jan 2019)

In previous blogs here, we have surveyed Irish mathematical connections with Caltech (Sep 2017) and Boston area universities (Jul 2018).  To kick off 2019, we turn our attention to Illinois Irish maths, which of course includes Chicago associations.  Over 30 people are included.  Please alert us to any omissions or errors.

A primary focus is on Irish graduates who did their doctorates or later worked at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, or the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.   We also cover people whose careers (before or after their Irish training or work experiences) saw them spend time at other Illinois third level institutions, such as Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago (whose current campus only coming into being in the 1960s).  Also, there was some traffic in the opposite direction: from non-Irish Illinois affiliated people to Ireland.  As usual, we include theoretical physicists and statisticians, as well as some with engineering leanings.

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UC (whose maths department is housed in Eckhard Hall shown here on the left) was founded in 1890.  An account of the early decades of the department, and the doctorates it produced, can be found at this website.

 

 
 

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The origins of Northwestern University (at Evanston) go back to the mid 1850s. This was where the International Mathematical Congress was held in conjunction with the World Columbian Exposition (“World’s Fair”) in 1893.  Many of the same attendees participated in “The Evanston Colloquium” at Northwestern right after the Expo.  Armagh's James McMahon (1856-1922 ) of Cornell, a TCD graduate, attended both the Expo and Evanston lectures (see this blog).  The Northwestern department of mathematics is based in Lund Hall (shown in the second image here).

 

 

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UIUC (The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign) dates back to 1867, its maths department building (Altgeld Hall) since 1956 is shown in the third picture on the left.  The doctorates awarded there going back to 1903 are listed here.

 

 

 

 

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 1. Mathematical physicist Swift Paine Johnston (1857-1918) was born 18 September in Chicago, and grew up there and in San Francisco.  He was educated at TCD (BA, 1879, MA 1883), where he had been a scholar, and Gold Medalist in maths, and later taught astronomy and moral philosophy there.  He also served as assistant commissioner for the Board of Intermediate Education.

Book / 1901 Census / 1911 Census

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 2. Physicist Frank Fahy (1922-2005) was born 8 June in Mallow, Cork.  Following his BSc in maths and physics (UCC, 1942) he did his MSc on “Problems on Atmospheric Electricity” with P. J. Nolan at UCD (1944) and was awarded an NUI Travelling Studentship in physics.  After a year at DIAS he went to the University of Chicago where he was awarded his PhD on "Investigations on Large Cosmic-ray Bursts" under Marcel Schein in 1951.  He taught at Marquette University in Wisconsin (1950-1952) and then returned to UCC for 35 years, serving as physics dept head and college vice-president along the way.  He was also chair of the School of Cosmic Physics at DIAS from 1970 to 1995.

Wikipedia

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 3.  Heini Halberstam (1926-2014) was born in 11 September in Czechoslovakia and grew up there and in England, where he was educated at the University of London (BSc 1949?, PhD 1952).  After a decade of teaching at  Exeter and Royal Holloway, in 1962 he become professor of maths and head of department at TCD, but only stayed 2 years.   The rest of his career was spent at Nottingham (1964-1980) and then at Urbana-Champaign (1980-1996).

Wikipedia / Obit 1 / Obit 2 / Obit 3

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 4. Theoretical physicist Cecil Mast (1927-2008) was born 21 February in Chicago.   He was educated at DePaul University there (BSc 1951?) and then at Notre Dame (PhD 1956).  He worked with J. L. Synge at DIAS 1956-1959, married an Irish woman, and spent the remainder of his career back at Notre Dame.

Obit 1 / Obit 2

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 5. Medical physicist Percy McCormack (1929-2015) was born 23 October in Dublin and brought up there and in Limerick.  He was educated entirely at TCD (BA 1951, PhD 1955, MSc 1964 by thesis probably under John Byrne, DSc 1971, MD 1978), his doctorate being on "Anomalous Secondary Maxima in Rossi Transition Curve".  At first he taught engineering at TCD, then worked at NASA in the late 1960s, then he taught at UCC.  After becoming a doctor he worked for the US Navy, then at NASA again, and in time became the chief physician for the Astronaut Corps.   From 2001 on, he was a bioengineer at the University of Illinois in Chicago.  His books included Physical Fluid Dynamics (1973) with TCD's Laurence Crane, and Vortex, Molecular Spin and Nanovorticity: An Introduction (Springer, 2012).

Obit / NASA

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 6. Bob McFadden was born in Belfast, and was educated entirely at QUB (BSc 1955, MSc by thesis under Hans Schneider 1959, Phd 1962), his doctorate on "Studies in Residuated Semigroups" being done with Derek Burgess.  He taught at QUB until 1968, then at Northern Illinois until 1989, and finally at the University of Louisville until 2005.

LinkedIn

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 7. Mathematical physicist David Spearman was born 25 March in Dublin, and was educated at TCD (BA 1959) and Cambridge (PhD 1961), his thesis on "Problems in Pion Physics" being done under Ireland's Jim Hamilton.  He spent 1962-1964 at the University of Illinois, and the bulk of his career was spent on the staff back at TCD, where he supervised three doctoral theses and rose to the rank of vice-provost and pro-chancellor.

TCD

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 8. Don McAlister was born 15 July in Belfast, and grew up in Ballinderry, Londonderry, and the Moy, Tyrone.  He was educated entirely at QUB (BSc 1962, MSc by thesis under Bob McFadden 1963, PhD 1966), his doctorate on "Multilattice Groups" being done under Derek Burgess.  He taught at QUB until 1970, when he moved to Northern Illinois University, retiring from there in 2002.

NIU

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 9. Statistician Colm O'Muircheartaigh was born 16 January in Dublin and educated at UCD (BSc 1966) and the London School of Economics (MSc 1967, PhD 1973).  His doctorate on "Response Variance in Surveys" was done with Graham Kalton & Dave Bartholomew.  He worked at LSE until 1998, then moved to the University of Chicago, where he has lead the Harris School of Public Policy.  He has had a dozen PhD students, and in 1977 co-authored the two-volume Analysis of Survey Data (Wiley).

UChicago / NORC

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10.  Computer scientist Harry Perros was born on Lemnos in Greece and was educated first at Athens (BSc 1970) and Leeds (MSc 1971), before completing his PhD on "Queue Networks in Computer Systems Modelling" in 1974 at TCD under Gordon Foster.  He taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago (1976-1981) before settling at North Carolina State for the rest of his career, where he has supervised 36 PhD students.

NCSU

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11. David Redmond was born 20 December in Dublin, and was educated first at UCD (BSc 1973, MSc 1974), where he earned an NUI Travelling Studentship Prize.  His 1977 doctorate "On Doubly Transitive Permutation Groups of Degree pq+1" was done under Michio Suzuki at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  His entire career has been spent at Maynooth, where he has served as registrar.  He co-authored the books Maynooth Mathematical Olympiad Manual (2002) and Computational Quantum Chemistry II - The Group Theory Calculator (2005).

Maynooth

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12. Richard M. Timoney (1953-2019) was born 17 July in Dublin, son of longtime UCD mathematician JR "Dick" Timoney.  He was educated at first at UCD (BSc 1973, MSc 1974), where he earned an NUI Travelling Studentship.  His 1978 doctorate on "Bloch Functions in Several Complex Variables" was done under Lee Rubel at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  His career was mostly spent at TCD, where he supervised numerous PhD and master's theses and co-authored the book Recent Advances in Operator-Related Function Theory (AMS, 2006).  His research interests included several complex variables and functional analysis.  Sadly, he died at the start of this year, after an illness which denied him the opportunity to enjoy a conference planned to celebrate his work.

TCD / Conference

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13. Statistician Peter McCullagh was born 7 January near Plumbridge, Tyrone, and was educated at Birmingham (BSc 1974) and Imperial College (PhD 1977), his thesis "Analysis of Categorical Ordered Data" being done under Tony Atkinson & David Cox.  He did a 2-year postdoc at the University of Chicago, followed by 6 years on the staff at Imperial, co-authoring the book Generalized Linear Models (Chapman & Hall, 1983).  Since 1985 he has been back at Chicago, where he has supervised numerous doctorates.

UChicago

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14. Phil Kavanagh was born in Dublin and was educated at UCD (BSc 1974, MSc 1975) and at the University of Wisconsin at Madison (PhD).  He completed his thesis on "Splittings of M-Matrices" in 1986 under Hans Schneider.  He taught at first at Illinois Wesleyan University (1989-1994), and spent the rest of his career at Colorado Mesa University.

LinkedIn

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15. Theoretical physicist Paul O'Hara was born in Dublin and educated at UCD (BSc 1974, MSc 1975) and UCLA (PhD 1991), his thesis on "Gaps in the Range of Stable Processes" being done under Tom Mountford and Sidney Port.  He taught at Northeastern Illinois University 1992-2015, and is now at Istituto Universitario Sophia, Loppiano, Italy.

Research Gate

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16. Electrical engineer Mark Burke was born in Dublin, and was educated at UCD (BE 1975?, ME 1976?), and at Northwestern (PhD 1980).  His thesis on "Optimal Inputs for the Identification of Linear Systems" was done under Zenonas Rekasius.  His career was mostly spent in the maths department at NIHE Limerick/UL.  His interests include control theory and nonlinear dynamics.

UL

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17. Mechanical engineer Andy Norris from Dublin started in maths science at UCD (BSc 1977, MSc 1978) followed by a PhD at Northwestern in 1981.  His thesis on "Ray Methods for Inverse Problems of Elastic Wave Scattering" was done under Jan Achenbach.  He spent 2 more years there and has long been at Rutgers, where he has supervised several theses and served as department chair.

Rutgers

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18. Jimmy McLaughlin was born 26 October in Glentogher, Inishowen, and was at first educated at the University of Ulster in Coleraine (BSc 1979).  After a long gap, during which he did some secondary teaching, he pursued postgraduate work at UCD (MSc 1996) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (PhD 2002).  His thesis on "Aspects of Continued Fractions" was done under Doug Bowman.  Most of his subsequent career has been spent at West Chester University in Pennsylvania.  He wrote the book Topics and Methods in q-Series (World Scientific, 2017).

West Chester

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19. Steve Buckley was born 8 February in Cork city, and was educated at UCC (BSc 1983, MSc 1984) and the
University of Chicago (PhD 1990).  His thesis on "Harmonic Analysis on Weighted Spaces" was done under Bob Fefferman.  He has long been on the staff at Maynooth, where his research interests are broad, including algebra, metric geometry and geometric analysis.

Maynooth

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20. Maths educator Barry Sloane was born in Douglas, Cork, and was educated at St Patrick's Drumcondra (BEd 1986?) and the University of Chicago (PhD 2003).  His thesis on "An Assessment of Sorensen's Model of School Differentiation: a Multilevel Model of Tracking in Middle and High School Mathematics" was done with Larry Hedges.  He has taught at Arizona State, but most of his career has been spent as a programme director at the NSF.

NSF

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21. Alan Roche was born 6 April in Dublin and was educated at first at UCD (BSc 1986, MSc 1987), where he earned an NUI Travelling Studentship Prize, and at the University of Chicago (PhD 1996).  His thesis on "Types and Hecke Algebras for Principal Series Representations of Split Reductive p-adic Groups" was done with Phil Kutzko & Paul Sally.  His career has been spent at the University of Oklahoma.

Oklahoma

22. Theoretical physicist Éanna Flanagan was born in Castlebar, Mayo, and brought up there and in Dublin.  He was educated at UCD (BSc 1987, MSc 1988 with thesis under Sean Dineen) and Caltech (PhD 1994).  He was at the University of Chicago 1994-1996 before settling at Cornell, where he is currently chair of the physics department.

Cornell

23. Martin Bridgeman was born 26 April in Dublin and was educated at TCD (BA 1987) and at Princeton (PhD 1994), where his thesis on "Volume Increase Under Dehn Drilling Operations" was done with Bill Thurston.  He spent 1985-1987 at Loyola University in Chicago.  Since 1999, he has been at Boston College.  He's very active in the annual William Rowan Hamilton Geometry and Topology Workshops at TCD.

Boston

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24. John C. Murray was born in Clonmel, then lived in Wexford before his family settled down in Letterkenny, Donegal.  He was educated first at UCD (BE 1990, DipM 1992, MSc with thesis with Sean Dineen 1993), where he won an NUI Travelling Studentship Prize, and then at the University Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (PhD 1998).  His doctorate on "Dade's Conjecture for the Mclaughlin Simple Group" was done under Everett Dade.  His career has been spent at Maynooth.

Maynooth

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25. Donough Kilmurray was educated first at UCD (BSc 1992, MSc with thesis with Sean Dineen 1993), and then at the University Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (PhD and master's in  finance 2000).  His doctorate on "Geometry of Affine Actions" was done under Maarten Bergvelt.  His career has been spent in finance at Goldman Sachs.

LinkedIn

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26. Theoretical physicist Andrei Parnachev was born in Novosibirsk, Russia, and was educated there (MSc 1997) and at the University of Chicago (PhD 2003).  His thesis on "Strings and Branes in Anti de Sitter Spacetimes" was done under David Kutasov.  After a few years each at Rutgers, Stony Brook and Leiden, he settled at TCD in 2014.

TCD

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27. Kevin McGerty was born 9 January in Dublin and was educated at Cambridge (BA 1997) and MIT (PhD 2002).  His thesis "Affine Quantum Algebras, Weyl Groups and Constructible Functions" was done with George Lusztig.  He then did stints at IAS Princeton, Chicago (2004-2006) and Imperial, before settling at Oxford in 2010.  As we write he is spending a semester at Urbana-Champaign.

Oxford

28. Tom Cooney was born in Fermoy, Cork, and was educated first at UCC (BSc 2000?, MSc with thesis with Gerry Murphy 2002), where he earned an NUI Travelling Studentship.  His 2010 PhD on "Noncommutative L_p-spaces Associated with Locally Compact Quantum Groups" was done under Zhong Jin Ruan at the University Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  His now teaches at Bucknell University.

Bucknell

29. Theoretical physicist Kevin Costello was born in Cork and was educated at Cambridge (PhD, 2003).  His thesis on "Gromov-Witten Invariants and Symmetric Products" was done under Ian Grojnowski.  He then spent a decade at Northwestern, where he supervised several PhDs, and is now at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario.  He wrote the book Renormalization and Effective Field Theory (AMS, 2011).

Wikipedia

 

 

There are a few other connections not included above.

English mathematician Frances Hardcastle spent 1892-1893 at Chicago.  TCD gave her an ad eundum BA in 1905 (Cambridge having denied here the degree she'd earned at Girton in 1891).

Seán McDonagh spent 1967-1968 at Urbana-Champaign a few years after doing his PhD at TCD under Heine Halberstam.

English mathematician Rex Dark spent 1968-1969 teaching at Chicago, then joined the staff at UCG in 1973, where he remained for 3 decades.

UCD's Tom Laffey from Mayo spent 1972-1973 at Northern Illinois University.

Patrick (Mike) Fitzpatrick was born in Cork, and raised there and in England.  He was educated at Rutgers (BSc 1966, PhD 1971), and spent 2 years at Chicago before settling down at U Maryland College Park.

John Kennan did a maths and econ BA at UCD in 1968, and then a PhD on econ at Northwestern.  He has long been at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Sarah Ziesler was born in NZ, grew up in England, and was educated at Sussex (BSc 1987, MSc 1988, PhD 1992), whereupon she taught at UCD for 5 years.  Since 1997 she has taught in Illinois, first at Dominican University, then at the University of Chicago.

TCD graduate Artie Prendergast-Smith did a postdoc at the University of Illinois at Chicago after his 2009 PhD from Cambridge.  He's now at Loughborough.

 

 

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