Ron Irving

Professor and Chair
Department of Mathematics

Office: Padelford C-138
Phone: (206) 543-1151


Ron Irving is a professor in the Department of Mathematics at UW. After an early interest in astronomy, he decided at the age of eight to pursue mathematics. Irving received his undergraduate degree in mathematics and philosophy from Harvard College in 1973 and his Ph.D. in mathematics from M.I.T. in 1977. After three years as an assistant professor at Brandeis University, he joined the faculty of UW in 1980. He spent the 1980-1981 academic year at the University of Chicago and UC San Diego on a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship and the 1987-1988 academic year in Princeton as a member of the Institute for Advanced Study. He has also been a visiting professor at U.C.S.D., a member of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, and a visiting professor at Aarhus University in Denmark.

In 2001, Irving received UW's Distinguished Teaching Award in recognition of his work from 1996 to 2001 teaching courses in the undergraduate mathematics degree program for future secondary teachers. He served as chair of the Department of Mathematics from July 2001 to June 2002. In July 2002, Irving became Divisional Dean of Natural Sciences. As divisional dean, he oversaw eleven departments in the mathematical, physical, and life sciences. In late June of 2006, he became Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, a position he held through March 2008, at which time he returned to the department. In July 2013, he once again became department chair.

In addition to papers Irving has published on ring theory and the representation theory of Lie groups and Lie algebras, he has written two books: Integers, Polynomials, and Rings: A Course in Algebra and Beyond the Quadratic Formula.

Irving is co-founder and executive director of the Summer Institute for Mathematics at UW, a program that each summer since 2003 has introduced twenty-four talented high school students from the Pacific Northwest to the beauty of advanced mathematics. Outside of the department, Irving served from 2010 to 2013 as the director of a new Integrated Sciences undergraduate degree, overseeing its creation and approval. He has been involved with the Astrophysical Research Consortium, which runs Apache Point Observatory in southern New Mexico, since 2003, serving as secretary-treasurer since 2005.

Irving is a board member, treasurer, and past president of the Burke Museum Association, which supports the work of the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. (Construction work on the New Burke has just begun!) And he is a board member (and proud alumnus) of the Summer Science Program, which each summer since 1959 has immersed high school students in hands-on astrophysics research, originally in Ojai, California, and more recently in Colorado and New Mexico. What was once a US program with many of the students coming from California now has participants from around the world.