Published: 09 July 2021

Brilliant Surrey mathematician Dr Claudia Wulff dies

Staff from the Department of Mathematics pay tribute to respected colleague, teacher and friend, Dr Claudia Wulff.

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our dear friend and colleague, Dr Claudia Wulff, after an illness of two years. In this remarkable woman, a brilliant mathematician and unforgettable personality combined to form someone whose ilk we are unlikely to see again. 

Significant contribution to academia

Claudia was an integral part of the Department of Mathematics from 2002 until her retirement as an Emerita Reader in 2020. Her talent came to the fore when she trained as a Mathematical Analyst in Berlin, a time which marked the beginning of her dedication to and passion for research.

One of the hallmarks of Claudia’s work was its laser-like focus on the mathematical problems she dealt with, and her attention to both the detail and depth of her results was well known to her collaborators, as well as to anyone who read her papers.

Even in the last year of her life, Claudia was still active in collaborative research. Her contribution to the wider academic community was significant, too, with numerous invited talks at prestigious universities and conferences, as well as an Editorship of SIAM Review, to her name. 

High standards

Teaching was important to Claudia. She took great care in the preparation of her course materials, and her lectures were crisply delivered in her memorable, skirling German accent. She also loved supervising students whose interests intersected with her own, and her care of personal tutees was exemplary. To the postgraduates in the department, Claudia was known to be a thorough PhD examiner, embodying the same mathematical rigour and high standards present in her own research.

Beyond mathematics, Claudia was an accomplished dancer and ice-skater, and her love of life in London was fittingly expressed by her observation that she felt she couldn’t live in a city containing fewer than five million other people.

Her presence in the department was unmistakable, rather like a whirlwind, and she was the life and soul of after-seminar wine and nibbles. To her colleagues and friends, Claudia’s was a colourful and warm personality that matched her superb sense of humour, her intensity and her charm.

We shall miss you, Claudia.

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