In Memoriam: Mathematics Professor Jeng-Eng Lin

A head and shoulders portrait of Jeng Eng Lin in a red sweater, dark red collared shirt against a blue backgroung
Jeng-Eng Lin

George Mason University mourns the recent passing of Jeng-Eng “Jerry” Lin, Professor, associate professor emeritus of mathematical sciences.

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 in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Mason for 33 years.

During his time at Mason, he donated many hours of his time in community service to strengthen Chinese American and underprivileged communities. He published more than 40 papers in the area of nonlinear partial differential equations and, upon retirement, continued to do research and teach at Georgetown University. 

“Jerry’s love of mathematics was best expressed by his outreach to young children,” said his colleague Sandy Saperstone.

In 1994, Lin established Mason's Math Enrichment Program, a summer program for children in middle and high school to take courses in an accelerated learning environment.

“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 also remembered Lin's participation and contributions to discussions within Mason’s Academic Diversity Committee surrounding policies for improving and embracing diverse cultures and ethnicities across the university.

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 Lin as a "very strong mathematician and a very humble person." Jim Lawrence, who started at Mason the same year as Lin, called him a “soft-spoken, generous person who freely gave help, and who was a serious educator."

Mason’s Mathematical Sciences Department chair Maria Emelianenko said the department will continue Lin’s math camps for K-12 students. Donations to the George Mason University Foundation in memory of Lin will help keep the camps going.

“We hope to continue his legacy by collecting funds to support our outreach and enrichment efforts that were such an important focus of Jerry’s life and time at Mason,” Emelianenko said. 

Karen Crossin remembered Lin as someone who "accepted everyone where they were and helped them all reach a little higher." 

“Jerry was a kind and generous person and a wonderful mathematician," Emelianenko said. "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."

Lin is survived by his wife, Shu-Ping; his two children, Oliver and Joyce; their spouses, Talia and Ian; and five grandchildren.