Professor Greg Hjorth

Professor Greg Hjorth

Professor Greg Hjorth passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on January 13, 2011. Greg was only 47 and was internationally recognised as one of the top researchers in logic and set theory in the world. He recently gave the Tarski Lectures in logic at UC Berkeley and was a Professor at UCLA before returning to Melbourne University as an ARC Professorial fellow. He was also an International Master in Chess at age 20 and was considered one of Australia's finest chess players. He was a wonderful colleague, generous and caring for his students and will be greatly missed.

He was a professor at the Department since July 2006.

Eulogy for Professor Greg Hjorth from Professor Hyam Rubinstein:

Family and friends. Greg passed away last week but the memory of his integrity and humanity will stay with us.

I first knew Greg as a brilliant honours student in mathematics and philosophy at Melbourne University in the 1980s. He was also one of Australia’s most outstanding young chess talents, reaching the ranking of international master.

On a visit to Adelaide about five years ago, Greg and I met again. I was extremely impressed both by what he had achieved in an outstanding academic career, reaching full professor at UCLA before 40 and by his warmth and genuine interest in everyone he met.

Since Greg was keen to return to Australia, I encouraged him to apply for an Australian Professorial Fellowship to come to Melbourne. There are only a handful of these awarded each year, but Greg put in a typically superb application and was immediately successful.

Greg became part of the fabric of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. He rapidly built up a group of students and collaborators at Melbourne – who were attracted not only by his enthusiasm and fantastic talent, but also by his friendliness and approachability. Greg kept up contact with his colleagues at UCLA and supervised his remaining UCLA PhD students to completion, including Inessa Epstein, who was awarded the prestigious Sachs award for the best thesis in logic in 2008.

Greg was always quick to volunteer when there were extra tasks to be done. He taught very high standard honours and masters courses and was a key part of the team, which designed analysis courses for the Melbourne model. When difficult decisions had to be made by the Department, Greg always fully participated and had a highly intelligent and sensitive attitude towards the needs of others. He was a natural mentor to younger staff and students.

Australia has produced mathematicians of outstanding ability and Greg was amongst our very best. We were fortunate to have him as a colleague at the height of a brilliant career and he will be deeply missed by everyone who had the fortune to know him.

Hyam Rubinstein