Naresh Jain began his education in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and developed an early interest in physics and mathematics. He completed a Master's degree in statistics in India before moving to the United States with his wife Kusum to enter graduate studies in statistics at Stanford University. He soon switched to the mathematics program and completed a Ph.D. thesis under the direction of Kai Lai Chung. Though offered a position at Stanford after his thesis, Minnesota proved more attractive, and in the Fall of 1965 he joined a vigorous probability group led by Steven Orey. Naresh found the environment at Minnesota very stimulating and congenial, and he had deep and fruitful collaborations with other members of the department, leading to a long series of influential papers on Markov processes and random walk behavior.
Naresh's dedication to his teaching and his students was a constant throughout his career. As the years went by he made substantial contributions to other areas in probability such as Gaussian processes, diffusions and large deviations, while gradually entering more deeply into the service and administrative side of the department. Kusum and their two children Vivanti and Ajay remained at the center of his life, and he loved to bring colleagues and visitors to his home for dinner and good conversation. He also developed into an accomplished photographer, fulfilling a passion he shared with several other members of the department. Naresh had many mathematical friends around the world, but the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was perhaps where he felt most at home outside his own department.
Naresh served as Director of Graduate Studies (1986-89), Associate Head (1990-1995) and Head of the School of Mathematics (1995-2003). To all these roles he brought a deep sense of responsibility and a desire to see the department thrive, and through his skill and determination was successful in this goal, making a lasting contribution to the School of Mathematics. He will be greatly missed.