Mason saddened by the loss of mathematics professor Jeng-Eng Lin
George Mason University mourns the recent passing of Jeng-Eng “Jerry” Lin, Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences in the College of Science at George Mason University.
Lin, 74, of Los Osos, California passed away on Friday, May 20, 2022, due to complications of lymphoma. He was born on July 13, 1947, the second in a family of six sons, and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. He received his doctorate in mathematics from Brown University and was a professor at George Mason University for 33 years. During that time, he spent many hours in community service, donating his time to strengthen Chinese-American and underprivileged communities. Upon retirement, he continued to do research and teach. He published more than 40 papers in the area of nonlinear partial differential equations and was research active until his final days.
“Jerry’s love of mathematics was best expressed by his outreach to young children,” said his colleague, Sandy Saperstone. He established Mason's Math Enrichment Program, a summer program for children in middle and high school to take courses in an accelerated learning environment, in 1994.
“Eventually the program became so popular that he had to enlist Mason faculty to teach these courses,” Saperstone added.
“I have no doubt that Mason’s profile grew within the local community partly due to Jerry’s outreach activities,” said Mathematics Professor Flavia Colonna, who remembered him as warm, caring and easily prone to smiling.
Colonna explained that discussions within Mason’s Academic Diversity Committee surrounding policies for improving and embracing diverse cultures and ethnicities across the university was productive, largely through Lin’s participation.
As an undergraduate and graduate coordinator, Colonna heard from students how well-liked Lin was. “I also learned from the students that he was quite humorous in the classroom,” Colonna added.
Padhu Seshaiyer referred to him as a ``very strong mathematician and a very humble person”. He enjoyed co-mentoring a PhD student with him. Jim Lawrence, who arrived to Mason same year as Jerry, recalls him being a “soft-spoken, generous person who freely gave help, and who was a serious educator”. According to Karen Crossin, “he truly energized, motivated, and encouraged so many people. He accepted everyone where they were and helped them all reach a little higher.”
Mason’s Mathematical Sciences department chair, Maria Emelianenko said she remembers him fondly as a great colleague and mentor. “Jerry was a kind and generous person and a wonderful mathematician. He made a tremendous impact on the broader mathematical community, and we all have a lot to be thankful to him for. He will be sorely missed”, she added. The department plans to continue Lin’s math camps and outreach activities for K-12 students. Donations to the Foundation in memory of Lin will help keep these activities going.
“We hope to continue his legacy by sustaining and growing our outreach and enrichment efforts that were such an important focus of Jerry’s life and time at Mason,” Emelianenko said.
Lin is survived by his wife, Shu-Ping; his two children, Oliver and Joyce; their spouses Talia and Ian; and five grandchildren