Wednesday, September 22, 2010

RIP Jerry Marsden (1942-2010)

I just received an e-mail (via Caltech's Control & Dynamical Systems mailing list, which is probably the one list where I still get relevant e-mails via my UGCS address) that Jerry Marsden died of cancer last night. I knew he was sick, but apparently things got extremely bad lately.

Here is what I just wrote as my Facebook status: RIP Jerry Marsden. Your supervision of my first research project, excellent lectures, and tons of recommendation letters, and much more meant so much to my career. (Not the e-mail I wanted to get...)

This bothers me a lot. Jerry was one of my biggest mentors, especially in the early stages. (I ultimately decided that my research style and preferences were different from his, but of course we all ultimately decide our path based on our various experiences. This is a sad, sad day.)

9/23/10: One of my collaborators has posted an appropriate quote from MacBeth, and I'll just assume (though perhaps incorrectly... I didn't check and I don't plan to ask) that it's for the same piece of news as reported in this blog entry. I knew that Jerry's death would bother me, but it's definitely hit me harder than I was expecting. Our relationship was entirely professional, but that is meaningful all the same.

9/24/10: Here is (a version that had some 1997 modifications of) my SURF Report from my project with Jerry.

9/26/10: There is now a remembrance page set up at Caltech.

10/01/10: Caltech has now posted an obituary.


Anonymous said...

Noooooooooooooooo.........., sad day... I agree..........I remember the days doing hundreds of exercises from his book on calculus and even when we prepared a song with the name of the book........
Thanks for the rip note Mason.


Mason said...

Caltech has a brief note on its home page today. A proper obituary is apparently coming soon.

Also, the CDS department appears to be planning a memorial, but it might be a while before those plans become concrete. There will also be a way to donate money for studentships in his name---those plans also are still in the process of being formulated---and given my connection with him (I was his first SURF student at Caltech), I'll likely go with that option. [CDS is currently accepting donations to a specific charity Jerry liked, though for me the other stuff makes more sense.]