Family, friends and fellow UCSB faculty members held a memorial yesterday for math professor Roy Leipnik who recently died from complications of a varicella virus infection, more commonly known as chicken pox.
Loved ones gathered at the Lobero Room of the UCen from 2:15 to 3:30 p.m. yesterday to commemorate the life of Leipnik, who taught mathematics at UCSB for thirty years. Leipnik, 82, had the varicella virus for at least a month prior to his death on Oct. 10 at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
Pictures of Leipnik’s early and later years were set up next to the podium where friends and family related their favorite memories of him.
Fellow math professor Larry Gerstein spoke about the conversations he held with his former co-worker.
“There was an extraordinary range of things he thought about,” Gerstein said. “I was impressed not only by the range, but the intensity of his thoughts and ideas. He was a model for all of us and an inspiration as well.”
A paper written by family members was distributed to memorial attendees that told of many of Leipnik’s life adventures including sabbaticals from UCSB that took him to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Chile.
Leipnik published nearly sixty papers in both theoretical and applied mathematics while at UCSB. A biography sheet provided at the memorial made remarks about Leipnik’s contributions to the math world such as his “uncanny ability to solve non-linear equations once considered intractable.” It also praised his “contributions applying math concepts to fields as diverse as economics, physics, hydrology and control theory.”
A grant fund, called the “Roy Leipnik Environmental Fund,” has been set up in his honor. The fund will provide stipends for graduate students working on environmental issues.
Leipnik attended the University of California at Berkeley for his doctorate degree in 1950, which led him to the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton where he worked alongside major figures in science such as Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer.
Thomas Sideris, chair of the Math Dept., said Leipnik won the Distinguished Lecturer of the Year award in 1997, and worked until his illness inhibited him.
“He died with his boots on,” Sideris said.