Regents Professor Emeritus James Serrin passed away on Aug. 23, 2012 at age 85. Born Nov. 1, 1926 in Chicago, Ill., Jim received his BA degree from Western Michigan College in 1947 and his Ph.D. in mathematics from Indiana University under David Gilbarg in 1951. Following appointments in Princeton and MIT, he was in the School of Mathematics from 1954 until his retirement in 1995. During this time, he served as Head of the School of Mathematics from 1964-65, and was named Regents Professor of Mathematics in 1969.
Jim is well known for his many fundamental contributions to nonlinear analysis, partial differential equations, fluid mechanics, continuum mechanics, and thermodynamics. Among his many honors, he was awarded the G.D. Birkhoff Prize in Applied Mathematics from the American Mathematical Society in 1973. He served on the Council of the American Mathematical Society from 1972-74. In 1979, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Indiana University, and the following year, he was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He also was a foreign member of the Finnish Academy of Sciences, and received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Sussex, Ferrara, and Padova.
Jim is survived by his beloved wife of nearly 60 years, Barbara, his three daughters, Martha Stack, Elizabeth Conley, and Janet Sucha and four grandchildren. On September 21, 2012, a Memorial Service for Jim was held in Vincent Hall Library and attended by his family and many of his colleagues and friends. On November 14-16, 2013, the 51st meeting of the Society for Natural Philosophy will be held at the University of Minnesota, with the theme “Mathematics and Mechanics in the Physical Sciences: A Tribute to James Serrin”. It will bring together researchers of international and national stature as well as recent Ph.D.'s and graduate students who either share the common experience of having been immensely influenced by Jim's teachings, writings, and other scientific activities or deeply value the dialogue and interaction between mathematics and mechanics.
James Serrin's archived website
National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir ↗
by Donald G. Aronson and Hans F. Weinberger
Recalling James Serrin ↗
by Howard Levine and Hans Weinberger, Coordinating Editors, Notices of the American Mathematical Society, 60 (2013) 700-712
SNP Meeting/IMA PI Conference: Mathematics and Mechanics in the Physical Sciences, A Tribute to James Serrin