Charles Rogers Doering, an eminent applied mathematician and physicist, died on May 15, 2021 after a year-long, courageous fight with cancer. He was the Nicholas D. Kazarinoff Collegiate Professor of Complex Systems, Mathematics, and Physics, as well as director of the Center for the Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan. Charlie was a SIAM Fellow and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He was particularly active in the SIAM Activity Group on Analysis of Partial Differential Equations and on SIAM’s Diversity Advisory Committee. Throughout his career, he held Guggenheim and Simons Fellowships and received a Presidential Young Investigator Award, a Fulbright Scholarship, and a Humboldt Research Prize. His untimely passing at the age of 65 has caused deep sorrow among his many friends and colleagues.
Charlie was born in Philadelphia, Pa., and raised in Schenectady, NY. He received a B.S. from Antioch College (Ohio), an M.S. from the University of Cincinnati, and a Ph.D. in mathematical physics at the University of Texas at Austin under the direction of Cecille de Witt. Between his stints at Cincinnati and Texas, Charlie spent time on the road with his old college band attempting to “make the scene” as a rock musician. However, as he once wryly admitted, the need to eat became increasingly urgent and he returned to the more conventional life of a physicist. Upon graduating from Texas, Charlie became a postdoc at the Center for Nonlinear Studies (CNLS) at Los Alamos National Laboratory before joining Clarkson University’s Physics Department. After nine years at Clarkson, during which he rose to the rank of full professor, he returned to Los Alamos as deputy director of the CNLS. In 1996, Charlie joined the mathematics faculty at the University of Michigan.
Charlie’s work was wide ranging and fiercely interdisciplinary. His physical insight—combined with great technical skill—allowed him to reduce complex problems to more tractable models. In complex systems, his main work lay in the stochastic processes that occur in physics, chemistry, biology, and ecology. Charlie was also active and influential in the study of the stochastic dynamics of low-dimensional systems. His seminal paper on resonant activation is his most-cited work , and his clever paper on the stochastic ratchet and the significance of colored noise is fundamental to that field . Charlie was a true polymath, and his papers on chemical kinetics, neuroscience, and mathematical ecology have all had considerable impact. He was a generous and inspiring collaborator, and his collaborations were numerous. Indeed, he successfully led the Center for the Study of Complex Systems at Michigan for six years.
Charlie was both a skilled and intuitive physicist and a fine applied analyst in the mathematical sense. During his two periods at Los Alamos, he became intensely interested in the dynamics of turbulent fluid flows. His resulting book on the subject with J.D. Gibbon is an indispensable source for these problems...
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