Celebrating the Career of Emeritus Professor W. Edward Olmstead

Olmstead retired in 2016 after more than 50 years at Northwestern

With a career spanning more than 50 years, Emeritus Professor W. Edward Olmstead has left a lasting impact on the Department of Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics (ESAM).

W. Edward OmsteadIn an article published earlier this year in the Journal of Integral Equations and Applications, Colleen Kirk (PhD ’99) and Lake Ritter (PhD ’03) — two former Olmstead PhD students at Northwestern Engineering — recognize his most notable research contributions, as well as his impact as a teacher and friend.

Olmstead joined ESAM’s faculty in 1964 after earning his PhD in applied mathematics at Northwestern. An expert in the formulation and analysis of integral equations in the areas of fluid and solid mechanics, his research tackled numerous thermal problems associated with radiation, combustion, and anomalous diffusion phenomena.

Chair of ESAM from 1991-93, Olmstead played a pivotal role in expanding the department’s course offerings in applied mathematics. In 1994, he was celebrated as one of the first two engineering faculty to receive Northwestern’s Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence award.

“His contributions in the area of integral equations and the phenomena they model have been prodigious and important,” write Kirk and Ritter. “Likewise, his impact on the careers and lives of his students and colleagues has been significant. Both he and his work will be long remembered and appreciated.”

Read the full article, “On the Contributions of W. Edward Olmstead.”