Professor Jaroslav Stark – Obituary
29 July 2010
Professor Jaroslav Stark, Chair in Applied Mathematics (Mathematics), died on 6 June 2010. Professor John Elgin, Professor of Applied Mathematics (Mathematics), who worked closely with him, pays tribute:
“Jaroslav Stark was born in Pardubice, east of Prague in Czechoslovakia, in 1960 and moved with his family to London following the Russian invasion in 1968. After studying Part III of the Maths Tripos at Cambridge, he joined the newly formed Mathematics Institute at the University of Warwick, where he gained a PhD in the emergent field of dynamical systems theory under the supervision of Robert Mackay.
Jaroslav was an applied mathematician. As such, he held strongly the belief that the language of mathematics is the most precise and concise way of making a meaningful statement about any given system. The term ‘applied’ is important here, since this reflects the need for the mathematician to ‘build’ a model of the system under study: in particular, how does one construct a model of a biological system without the knowledge of how such systems work? To gain such, Jaroslav took a two-year break to study biology.
In January 2003 he moved to the Department of Mathematics at Imperial, where he founded the mathematical biology group, and in 2007 he became Director of the Centre for Integrative Systems Biology at Imperial College (CISBIC).
Jaroslav became a key figure in cross-disciplinary research in the UK, pioneering the use of mathematics to study biological systems. Thanks to his enthusiasm, clever use of images, clarity of thought and crystal-clear prose, the developmental biologists and immunologists he worked with could quickly grasp the implications of his mathematics. This allowed mathematicians and biologists to generate mathematical models which enable them to understand complex biological problems.
Jaroslav is survived by his wife, Kate Hardy (Professor of Reproductive Biology, SORA), his son, Daniel, and his father, Jaroslav.”