The IMA expresses its sadness at the passing of its founding Director Hans Weinberger, a professor emeritus in the School of Mathematics at the University of Minnesota, on Friday, September 15, 2017 in Durham, North Carolina.
Weinberger was an integral part of the IMA proposal created in response to the National Science Foundation’s request for proposals to establish a Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in 1979. Along with George Sell and Willard Miller, both math professors from the University of Minnesota, they envisioned a mathematics institute that would be bold and look outward from the core of mathematics toward applications. Its goal was to bring mathematicians and scientists together to focus on interdisciplinary problems from academia and industry, creating new research that would have an impact on the science and enrich mathematics.
Weinberger served as the IMA’s first director from 1982 to 1987, and under his leadership, the IMA quickly became known for cutting-edge scientific programs, a collaborative atmosphere, and as a training ground for postdoctoral researchers. During his tenure, Weinberger was very engaged in scientific life at the IMA, attending lectures and collaborating with visitors and postdocs. His presence at these lectures usually meant that the toughest and most penetrating questions were asked.
While well known for his contributions to the analysis of partial differential equations, especially eigenvalue problems, Weinberger turned his attention to mathematical biology later in his career. He remained active in research throughout his life and authored several papers after his retirement in 1998. Weinberger was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1986 and was in the inaugural class of the American Mathematical Society Fellows in 2012.
“In spite of his impressive accomplishments, Hans was the most modest and accessible person one could ever meet,” said former IMA Director Fadil Santosa. “He was generous with his time and his ideas. He will be sorely missed.”
In 2009, the IMA established the Hans Weinberger IMA Fund in his honor. The fund continues to support programs and activities that strengthen the IMA’s mission.