University of Houston Mourns Passing of Roland Glowinski

World Renowned Leader in Applied Mathematics and Scientific Computing

Roland Glowinski, the Cullen Professor of Mathematics known for his work in applied mathematics and scientific computing, passed away on January 26. He was 84.

Roland Glowinski

His career was unconventional by virtue of his decision to pursue applied mathematics at a time when pure mathematics was the mode.

A member of the University of Houston faculty since 1985, Glowinski’s work had a significant impact on the development and growth of applied mathematics worldwide. Much of his work involved computer simulations to solve scientific, medical, and engineering problems. Over the years, his work addressed applications to mechanics, physics, aeronautics, engineering sciences, and biology.

Glowinski’s relentless curiosity, patience, and willingness to listen were an asset. He had a natural ability to collaborate with people across a wide spectrum of scientific and engineering disciplines. This gift helped him amass an impressive international network of colleagues and friends.

Born in Paris, Glowinski’s scientific training began at the École Polytechnique, the most prestigious institution of higher learning in France. In 1963, he received a master’s degree in electrical engineering from École Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications. He completed a doctorate in mathematics in 1970 at the University of Paris VI Pierre and Marie Curie, where he was supervised by Jacques-Louis Lions.

In France, Glowinski was a scientific director at INRIA from 1970-1985 and a professor at the University of Paris VI Pierre and Marie Curie from 1970-1998. He served as the director of the European Center for Research and Advanced Education in Scientific Computing during the period of 1992-1994.

He held adjunct professor positions at several universities, including Rice University since 1986, University of Jyväskylä in Finland since 2001, and University of Tennessee in Knoxville since 2008. Glowinski was also a visiting professor at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology since 2008 and Hong Kong Baptist University since 2015. He was an honorary professor at Fudan University, Shanghai, China, and professor emeritus at the University of Paris VI Pierre and Marie Curie.

Throughout his career, he earned university, national, and international recognition.

In 2002, Glowinski received UH’s Esther Farfel Award, the highest accolade bestowed for faculty excellence. He was named a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and an American Mathematics Society Fellow. In both cases, he was in the inaugural class of fellows.

Glowinski received the 2011 Computational Fluid Dynamics Award from the U.S. Association for Computational Mechanics. The award recognized his “outstanding contributions to establish computational mathematics for variational inequalities, extended domain methods, and others that enhanced computational fluid dynamics worldwide.”

His other honors for computational fluid dynamics include the Grand Prix Marcel Dassault from the French National Academy of Sciences and the Theodore von Kármán Prize from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. In 1989, he received the Seymour Cray Prize.

Most recently, Glowinski received the 2020 W.T. and Idalia Reid Prize from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. The award recognized his work in differential equations and control theory. Receiving the award was special to him as his mentor Lions received the Reid Prize in 1998.

He was an elected member of several prestigious academies, including the Academia Europea, the French National Academy of Sciences, and the French National Academy of Technology. He was a Knight of the French Order of the Legion d’Honneur and an Officer of the French Order of the Academic Palms and French Order of National Merit.

During his career, he authored 10 books and more than 450 scientific articles and served on several editorial boards. He enjoyed his role as advisor to numerous students and postdoctoral fellows, taking pleasure in watching the development of their careers.

He is survived by his wife Angela Glowinski, daughters Anne Laurence Michelle Glowinski and Tania Julie Glowinski Gonzalez, grandchildren Jacques Joseph Roland Fehr, Théodore Mikhaïl Benjamin Fehr, Samuel Isai Walter Fehr, Joshua Rutilo Glowinski Gonzalez, and Eliora Glowinski Gonzalez, brother Albert Glowinski, and sons-in-law Juan Gonzalez and James Fehr.

The funeral will be on Monday, January 31, at 1:30 p.m. at Beth Jacob Cemetery, 2300 Almeda Genoa Rd, Houston, TX 77047. There will be reception following the ceremony.

A University memorial service will be held Thursday, March 31, at 4 pm at UH’s A.D. Bruce Religion Center followed by a reception at the Hilton University of Houston.