2006 Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics
James (Jim) Morrow, University of Washington

Citation exerpted from Mathematical Matters

The current winner of the Distinguished Teaching Award from the Pacific Northwest Section of the MAA is a member who has been for several decades a world-class researcher in pure complex analysis, a world-class researcher in applied impedance tomography, and a world-class teacher and mentor of young students from high school pupils to undergraduates and doctoral candidates in mathematics: Professor James (Jim) A. Morrow at the University of Washington.

In 1963, as a graduate student at Stanford, Jim was already teaching with full responsibility for a class. Meanwhile, the research monograph that he wrote with Professor Kunihiko Kodaira proved so influential that it is to be republished in the spring of 2006 by the American Mathematical Society [9]: Leadership in teaching within a top research environment was going to be the hallmark of Jim's career. With a Ph.D. from Stanford in 1967, Jim taught two years at Berkeley and then was appointed at the University of Washington in 1969, but it wasn't until 1978 that I enrolled in his course on several complex variables. Back then the only introductory text [5] was in German, typed (not typeset) with Germanic letters so ornate you couldn't tell them apart, and the first picture, on page 4, was already in four dimensions. Yet Jim made it all look like a piece of cake.

A decade later, Jim's department had acquired additional strength, not only in several complex variables, but also in inverse problems: the mathematics of medical diagnostic imaging tomography scanners (CAT, MRI, PET, etc.). Two junior colleagues, John Sylvester and Gunther Uhlmann, had just published a ground breaking result on smooth impedance computed tomography in the Annals of Mathematics [11]. In this context, with a grant from the National Science Foundation, and at first with his colleague Edward (Ed) B. Curtis, Jim started a summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) on discrete impedance computed tomography, a problem which would be more suitable to students, but about which one knew next to nothing: can one determine all the resistors hidden inside a network, from potentials and currents on the network surface only?

After the program's first summer in 1988, a participating undergraduate — Thaddeus Edens — was already publishing new results with Jim and Ed [1], as later did David Ingerman [3], [8], and Edith Mooers [2], who, with Amanda Mueller, also earned an Alice T. Schafer honorable mention. (David Ingerman received a Sloan Dissertation Fellowship, spent the year of 1999-2000 at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, and is now an Assistant Professor at MIT.) Also in that first summer, two of "my" undergraduates — Olga Simek and Laura Smithies — participated in Jim's REU program and then went on to earn Ph.D.s in mathematics. Olga Simek later co-authored publications as a Research Affiliate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT [6], [7], while Laura Smithies, now a professor at Kent State University, OH, has already published several research articles and a memoir of the American Mathematical Society [10]. Before Olga Simek and Laura Smithies, no other undergraduate mathematics majors from my institution (Eastern Washington University) had reached so high a level of accomplishments, which leaves no doubt about Jim's phenomenal influence. By the turn of the millenium, new results found by participating undergraduates were presented at the International Congress on Applied Mathematics at Edinburgh, Scotland, and edited into the definitive book on discrete inverse problems [4].

In 2000 and 2001, another student from Jim's REU program, Thomas Carlson, presented papers at the annual joint meeting of the MAA and AMS; as proof of his abilities, he was asked to chair the second session but declined, feeling that his youth would be too evident (he was nineteen years old at the time). Demonstrating the influence of Jim's REU program abroad, 2005 participant Eliana Hechter received a Rhodes Scholarship to pursue a doctorate in mathematics at Oxford, where 2002 participant Jeffrey Giansiricusa is also completing his dissertation in algebraic topology

Besides leading his REU program alone (Ed Curtis having opted out), Jim also prepares students for the world wide Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM). As an associate editor of the UMAP Journal, I have witnessed first hand the extraordinary accomplishments and publications of Jim's undergratuates in the contest. (Records of the MCM appear in the fall issues of the UMAP Journal and on COMAP's web page http://www.comap.com/undergraduate/contests/mcm/.)

2002: Jim advised two teams; one team won an Outstanding Award and the SIAM Award for Problem A, the other team won a Meritorious Award for Problem B (among a total of 525 teams)

2003: Jim advised two teams; one won an Outstanding Award and the MAA Award for Problem A, the other an Outstanding Award and the INFORMS Award for Problem B (among 492 teams)

2004: Jim advised two teams; one team won an Outstanding Award for Problem A, the other team won a Meritorious Award for Problem B, (among a total of 600 teams). As an omen of 2005, Jim's very young colleague Rekha Thomas advises a third team, who wins a Meritorious Award.

2005: Jim advised two teams; one won a Meritorious Award, the other an Honorable Mention (among a total of 644 teams). Jim also helped coach a team advised by Rekha Thomas: that team won an Outstanding Award and the INFORMS Award. The attached letter from his Dean confirms Jim's contribution.

Since 1994, Jim has also been organizing singlehandedly a spring break Mathday that attracts 1200 high schoolers to campus. In 2005, under Jim's leadership, they came not only from the Pacific Northwest, but also from as far away as the Republic of South Africa. Seemingly with plenty of time to spare, Jim now also organizes a Summer Institute that brings together 24 high schoolers from the U.S. and Canada for six weeks at the University of Washington.

As a recognition of the international reputation of his teaching, in 2005 Jim won the Education Prize from the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences at the University of British Columbia.

In light of the world wide success of undergraduates participating in his REU programs and MCM teams, the more than one thousand high schoolers attending his Mathday and Summer Institute each year show that Jim is an extremely caring and effective teacher of students from all walks of life. Such a relentless dedication and stunning success with students at all levels is exceptional for a researcher who has worked with the world's best and famous to publish results of lasting influence

For these accomplishments, James Allen Morrow received the 2006 Distinguished Teaching Award from the Pacific Northwest Section of the Mathematical Association of America.


[1] Edward Curtis, Thaddeus Edens, and James Morrow. Calculating the resistors in a network. Proceedings of the Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, 11(2):451–452, 1989.

[2] Edward Curtis, Edith A. Mooers, and James Morrow. Finding the conductors in circular networks from boundary measurements. RAIRO Modélisation Mathématique et Analyse Numérique, 28(7):781–814, 1994.

[3] Edward B. Curtis, David V. Ingerman, and James A. Morrow. Circular planar graphs and resistor networks. Linear Algebra and Its Applications, 283(1–3):115–150, 1998.

[4] Edward B. Curtis and James A. Morrow. Inverse Problems for Electrical Networks. World Scientific Publishing, 2000.

[5] Hans Grauert and Klaus Fritsche. Einführung in die Funktionentheorie mehrerer Veränderlicher. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg New York, 1974.

[6] N. G. Hadjiconstantinou and O. Simek. Constant-wall-temperature nusselt number in micro and nano-channels. Journal of Heat Transfer — Transactions of the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers), 124(2):356–364, April 2002.

[7] N. G. Hadjiconstantinou and O. Simek. Sound propagation at small scales under continuum and non-continuum transport. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 488:399–408, 10 August 2003.

[8] David V. Ingerman and James A. Morrow. On a characterization of the kernel of the Dirichlet-to-Neumann map for a planar region. SIAM Journal on Mathematical Analysis, 29(1):106–115, 1998.

[9] James Morrow and Kunihiko Kodaira. Complex Manifolds. AMS Chelsea Publishing. American Mathematical Society, Providence, RI, 1971. To be re-published in 2006.

[10] Laura Smithies. Equivariant analytic localization of group representations. Number 728 in Memoirs of the AMS. American Mathematical Society, Providence, RI, 2001.

[11] John Sylvester and Gunther Uhlmann. A global uniqueness theorem for an inverse boundary value problem. Annals of Mathematics. Second Series, 125(1):153–169, 1987.

[LINK: Validate CSS] [LINK: Validate XHTML]