Jon Nimmo, 1958-2017

Tuesday 11th July, 2017

Jonathan John Christopher NIMMO
25th July 1958 - 20th June 2017

Jonathan Nimmo – known universally as Jon – started his academic career as an undergraduate at the University of Leeds, and obtained his PhD – under the supervision of the late Prof David Crighton F.R.S. - in 1982. After this he worked at the University of Newcastle and it was during this time that one of his most influential papers was written. In collaboration with Prof Neil Freeman he wrote the paper

“Soliton-Solutions of the Korteweg-DeVries and Kadomtsev-Petviashvili Equations – The Wronskian Technique”

which has become a cornerstone in the theory of exact solutions to so-called integrable nonlinear equations. It is one of the fundamental papers in this field and to date it has received over 300 citations.

Jon started as a “New Blood” lecturer in Glasgow in 1985 and during his time in Glasgow his interest and acknowledged expertise in this field continued to grow. With over 60 papers – many in collaborations with researchers from around the globe – he was a major international figure in the field. These papers have received over 1700 citations in over 1000 different articles. Collaborations – particularly international collaborations – came naturally to Jon, and many of his papers were written with key academics in Japan, China, Australia as well as with colleagues in Glasgow. He was one of the co-founders of the ISLAND conference series (standing for Integrable Systems: Linear And Nonlinear Dynamics, and held on islands such as Arran and Islay) that were held between the years 1999 and 2011. He was a key member of the School’s “Integrable Systems and Mathematical Physics” research group and the group will be holding a conference to celebrate Jon’s many achievements in his field of research in the near future.

Jon's connections were used in more formal ways to promote research interaction and collaboration: for example, between 2008-11 he was Principal-Investigator on a British Council Research Cooperation Award (Prime Minister Initiative 2) held between the University of Glasgow and The University of Tokyo. Many of his visitors and visits were also funded on various Royal Society exchange schemes.

With his keen interest in computer languages, long before the University introduced Sharepoint, the then Dept. of Mathematics had its own intranet, which was largely written and developed by Jon, and many other systems within the School owe the genesis and development to him. For example, the School's current software for the processing of exam papers, which Jon developed, regularly receives high praise from our external examiners. Jon also had an essential input in the development of the mathematics curriculum and was a popular and well-liked lecturer because of his attention to detail, his gift of delivery and his wit. The first year syllabus still follows the book on "Fundamentals of University Mathematics" which Jon co-authored in 1994 and, at the time of his death, Jon was the Convenor of the Mathematics Learning and Teaching Committee.

The messages we have received from his colleagues, collaborators and friends universally cite his gentle nature, ready wit and his kindness, but above all, shock at his untimely death.

He leaves behind two children – Sally (and grandson Archer) and James – from his first marriage to Kate Haig, and his wife Junxiao and two-year old daughter Emily.

Donations, in memory of Jon, to the ongoing work of the Beatson Centre may be made at: