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Tim Cochran


1955 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Tim Cochran Obituary
Thomas "Tim" Daniel Cochran
1955-2014
Tim Cochran, an eminent mathematician and devoted father, son, partner, and brother, died unexpectedly on December 16, 2014. He was 59. Born in Philadelphia on April 7, 1955, he is survived by his partner Shelly Harvey, his daughter Sydney Cochran, his father Thomas Cochran, his sister Susan Nugent, and his brothers Robert and Steven Cochran.
Tim loved the life of the mathematician, completing his Bachelor's Degree at MIT and his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley before joining the Department of Mathematics at Rice in 1990. He was a leading figure in low-dimensional topology and the author (or co-author) of 55 scholarly articles in which he expanded significantly the importance of the knots and links and low-dimensional manifolds he studied. But Tim was equally dedicated to teaching and mentoring his many students, bringing the undergraduate classroom to life with warmth and humor, guiding the work of early-career scientists, advocating for increased efforts in recruiting women to his department's Ph.D. program, and directing the doctoral dissertations of 16 students who would go on to successful careers in mathematics.
Tim's commitment both to his field and his students was reflected especially well in the breadth of awards with which he was honored this year. For his continued contributions to the field of topology, he earned a year-long fellowship from the prestigious Simons Foundation. For his generous dedication to the work of younger mathematicians, he was honored with Rice's 2014 Faculty Teaching and Mentoring Prize, awarded by Rice's Graduate Student Association. For the role he played in advancing every dimension of the world of mathematics, he was named a 2014 Fellow of the American Mathematical Society.
Nothing, of course, not even mathematics, surpassed Tim's devotion to his family. He treasured catching up by phone with his dad, traveling the world with his partner Shelly, remembering his wonderful mom in visits with his brothers and sister, and spending every possible hour he could with his daughter Sydney. Full of life and full of love, he brought to his roles as father and son, partner and brother and uncle, extraordinary joy, and, to all that he did, his signature blend of graceful gentleness and fierce pride.
A Celebration of Life, held especially for his colleagues and friends in Houston, will take place at two o'clock in the afternoon on Sunday, the 18th of January, in the Rice Memorial Chapel, located in the university's Rice Memorial Center, off Rice Blvd., entrance #20. Immediately following a reception will be held.
A second Celebration will take place in Annapolis, MD in early June for his family, as well as for any friends and colleagues who might wish to attend.
In lieu of flowers, you are invited to consider making a contribution to the Association for Women in Mathematics. https://secure.awm-math.org/donations/
Published in Houston Chronicle on Jan. 11, 2015
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