In Memoriam

James Richard Arvo

Jim Arvo 1956-2011

James Richard Arvo, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Irvine, died Oct. 19. He was 55.

Prof. Arvo was a highly influential researcher in computer graphics, best known for his work on the simulation of light for the purpose of realistic image synthesis; his work in this area has led to fundamentally new approaches to photorealistic rendering techniques used today. His papers have appeared in top academic venues, and he served as a computer graphics consultant for both Pixar and Disney animation studios.

In the classroom, Arvo was well known for being an extraordinary instructor and was recognized in 2006 with a UCI Celebration of Teaching Award for excellence in teaching undergraduates.

“Professor Arvo was a master at making difficult, abstract ideas accessible to a broad range of students,” says Sandy Irani, chair of UC Irvine’s department of computer science. “He championed a strong foundation of mathematics in the computer science and engineering curriculum while maintaining a very high level of enthusiasm among students.”

Arvo joined UCI in 2002 and held appointments in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences and The Henry Samueli School of Engineering. Prior to joining the UC Irvine faculty, Arvo was an associate professor of computer science at the California Institute of Technology, where he received an Excellence in Teaching Award from the Associated Students of Caltech. While at Caltech, he also received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, which recognizes teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of their organization’s mission.

He earned a B.S. in mathematics from Michigan Technological University, an M.S. in mathematics from Michigan State University, and an M.S., M.Phil. and Ph.D. in computer science from Yale University. Prior to joining the Caltech faculty in 1995, he was a senior software engineer for Apollo Computer / Hewlett-Packard and then a senior researcher at Cornell University.

Arvo is survived by his wife, Erin Shaw, a computer scientist at the USC Information Sciences Institute, and their son, Julian. A public memorial service will be held 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 11, at the Caltech Athenaeum in Pasadena.

Click here for the obituary published by the Pasadena Star-News.