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Personal Profile of Dr. Ron S. Irving

Dr. Ron S. Irving
Department of Mathematics

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1844-2053


Ron grew up on Long Island, where his early childhood passion for astronomy was nurtured through visits with his mother to Hayden Planetarium, just a few blocks up from his grandmother’s apartment. A gradual drift toward mathematics was completed when he was given Irving Adler’s newly published Giant Golden Book of Mathematics on his second/eighth birthday in 1960. He received an AB in mathematics and philosophy from Harvard in 1973 and a PhD in mathematics from MIT in 1977 (under Michael Artin), joining the University of Washington faculty in 1981 after holding postdoctoral positions at Brandeis, the University of Chicago, and UC San Diego. At UW, Ron served as department chair (2001–2002), Divisional Dean of Natural Sciences (2002–2006), Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (2006–2008), and department chair again (2013–2018).

During his time as divisional dean, Ron negotiated the entry of the University of Washington as a member of the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, subsequently serving on its board. He spent twenty years with the Astrophysical Research Consortium as board member and secretary-treasurer. ARC’s member universities own Apache Point Observatory in the Sacramento Mountains of southern New Mexico, home to a 3.5-meter telescope and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey telescope. Ron was a board member, board president, and treasurer of the Burke Museum Association, which supports the work of the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, a state museum on the UW campus.

In 2002, Ron secured a gift to establish a six-week residential program for talented high school students in the greater northwest—the Summer Institute for Mathematics at UW—which he ran through 2021. He is currently board chair of the Summer Science Program, which has offered summer programs for high school students since its start in 1959 at the Thacher School in Ojai, California. (Ron was fortunate to attend in 1968.) What began as a modest astronomy program in one location has expanded in recent years to six immersive research programs in astrophysics, biochemistry, and genomics on university campuses around the country.

Current/Future Committee Membership
Name Office Start Date End Date
Board of Trustees Mar 01, 2023 Feb 28, 2027

Past Committee Membership
Name Office Start Date End Date
No Memberships