Jonathan Widgoff Shapiro (3/5/1957 - 5/5/2006)


Jon became a student in the Department of Statistics, U.C. Berkeley in 1991 after completing a BS at M.I.T. in 1986.  He received his PhD in 1995 under the direction of Steve Evans (me) with a thesis entitled "Capacity of Brownian Trace and Level Sets".  He was awarded the Michel and Line Loeve Fellowship to support his outstanding graduate research in probability.


As well as working with me, Jon also collaborated with Yuval Peres and Robin Pemantle on the paper "The trace of spatial Brownian motion is capacity-equivalent to the unit square" that appeared in Probability Theory and Related Fields 106 (1996), 379-399.


Following his PhD, Jon took up a post-doc at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.  While there, his problems with psychiatric illness increased and he left academic life, leaving unfulfilled the great promise he had shown.


I recall the many happy times I spent with Jon before his illness took hold: watching him do his karate exercises in the sun outside Evans Hall, listening to him playing his African drums, or simply hanging out with him in cafes enjoying his quiet sense of humour.  I particularly remember sitting on the 10th floor balcony and looking across the Bay to the lights of San Francisco while we ate Zachary’s pizza to celebrate him submitting his dissertation.

Jon was buried in Rhode Island near his mother and sister.


Near the end of his life, Jon worked on a beautiful web-based tool for viewing and investigating polytopes that can be downloaded here