In Memoriam: Cathleen Morawetz

By | August 14, 2017

Another famous mathematician has died, but in many ways this is a less tragic story than the last death we announced on this blog.

Cathleen Morawetz, who was a president of the American Mathematical Society and professor at NYU, died this past weekend at the age of 94.  Her contributions to the mathematical study of waves and shock formation continue to be influential.  In fact, as this article in the New York Times describes, just weeks before her death she attended a conference where younger researchers were using the inequalities that she had proved.

The article also recalls an interesting anecdote about this woman who succeeded as a mathematician at a time that this ran contrary to society’s expectations:

In an interview with the journal Science in 1979, Dr. Morawetz recalled that when her children were young — a time when few women pursued professional careers — people often asked whether she worried about them while she was at work.

Her reply: “No, I’m much more likely to worry about a theorem when I’m with my children.”