Amherst College mourns the passing of Tanya Leise, the Brian E. Boyle Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, on Jan. 18, 2023. 

Provost and Dean of the Faculty Catherine Epstein wrote the following in a Jan. 20 email to the campus community:

An applied mathematician who was the first woman mathematician to be tenured at Amherst, Tanya focused her research on mathematical modeling, particularly biomathematics (especially circadian and ultradian behavioral rhythms)—publishing widely. Her 2006 co-authored (with Kurt Bryan) article on the linear algebra behind Google is considered a landmark expository piece. A beloved teacher, Tanya particularly enjoyed teaching courses that included some applications: linear algebra, multivariable calculus, mathematical modeling, wavelet and Fourier analysis, and other applied mathematics electives. She was dedicated to student-faculty collaborative research and was actively engaged in conducting research with students both during the academic year and as part of Amherst summer programs.

Tanya earned a B.S. degree in mathematics from Stanford, with honors, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, also in mathematics, from Texas A&M University. She taught at several other institutions before coming to Amherst as a visiting assistant professor in 2004 and was appointed to a tenure-track position here in 2007; Tanya became a tenured professor in 2013, and she was promoted to the rank of full professor in 2018.

After taking medical leave and teaching remotely during the pandemic, Tanya was delighted to return to the classroom and her department last spring and this fall. As recently as last week, she was part of interviews, via Zoom, with candidates for a tenure-track position in the mathematics and statistics department. She was also looking forward to her sabbatical this spring. A core member of her department, Tanya served as department chair, math colloquia organizer, and comprehensive exam director, in addition to many other roles. She is also credited with creating Amherst’s applied mathematics curriculum. Tanya contributed to the life of the college in myriad ways, serving on the Committee of Six and the Committee on Priorities and Resources (including as chair), among many other bodies.

Beyond Amherst, Tanya was a talented violist, avid reader, and lover of classical music and animals. Her dogs, Bonnie and Maisie, accompanied her to the office on a regular basis. She took perhaps her greatest joy in her family.  Our hearts go out to Tanya’s husband, Andrew Cohen, a professor of psychology at UMass-Amherst, and to Tanya and Andrew’s daughter, Adira, a student at the university, as well as to all of Tanya’s colleagues and students.

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