!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 3.2 Final//EN"> UK Nonlinear News Issue 59


UK Nonlinear News Issue 59, Jun 2010

Jaroslav Stark 1960 - 2010

Many of us must have shared a feeling of disbelief at the news of Jaroslav Stark's untimely death. I shall always think of him as that extremely bright and talented SERC Research Fellow who acted as a semi-formal ambassador at large for the Applied Nonlinear Mathematics Initiative, at a time when I was chairman in the early 1990s. I remember being frequently put on the spot when my rather vague and airy generalisations were expertly, but always politely, dismantled by Jaroslav's incisive questioning. His tireless energy and infectious enthusiasm for using serious mathematics in tackling real problems gave a kick start to many new partnerships between mathematicians, physical scientists, biologists, engineers, and last but certainly not least, medical researchers. The concept of a Web based news journal was his, and as a result UK Nonlinear News was born in 1995; Jaroslav and I were joint editors, and our postdocs and students Mark Nelson (now flourishing at the University of Wollongong) and James Heald did most of the hard work.

Jaroslav's success was founded on a schooling shared between his native Czechoslovakia, the USA and Britain, followed by Maths (Part III distinction) at Cambridge and PhD at Warwick with Robert MacKay. The exciting mathematical environment there, shaped and influenced by Christopher Zeeman, David Rand and Ian Stewart as well as MacKay, was perfect for the development of a young researcher of Jaroslav's ability and outlook, and he acquired those interests and skills in the rapidly developing fields of nonlinear mathematics which were to inform his contributions to the many fields of science his work was to enrich throughout his life. After a spell of 4 years at GEC's Long Range Research Laboratory at Wembley, he took up his SERC Fellowship prior to a lectureship at University College London in 1993, rising to professor in 1999, by which time, partly influenced by his wife Kate's background, his research was largely motivated by problems in the biomedical field, in which he rapidly became a world leader. In 2003 he moved to Imperial College London as Professor in the Department of Mathematics, helping to found and becoming Director from 2007 of the Centre for Integrative Systems Biology there. Perhaps this direction of research should come as no surprise in a son of a heart surgeon and a paediatrician? - the sort of question on inherited aptitudes which I'm sure Jaroslav must have already pondered, and could well have found the answer to had his life not been cut so cruelly short.

Those who knew him will never forget that smiling face, unfailing cheerfulness and interest in other people and their problems - no occasion where he was present could be boring! As a mathematician he had that rare skill of entering into and being accepted by scientific groups of many different disciplines as a vital partner in their work. We have lost a great ambassador for our subject, but we must ensure that the gates he has opened and the partnerships that he has established are widened and developed - his memory deserves no less. Our hearts go out to Kate and his young son, and our hope must be that they find comfort in the joy and inspiration his friendship has brought to us all.

John Brindley


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Issue Sixty: September 2010

Issue Sixty is scheduled for September 2010. Submission of news (new courses, meetings, conferences, new appointments, jobs, new research directions etc.), comments or articles about any aspect of nonlinearity in the UK are very welcome and should arrive by 21 September 2010.