University of Delaware

In Memoriam

Long-time UD math professor Wenbo V. Li dies


Editor's note: This article was updated at 7:12 p.m., Jan. 28.

1:28 p.m., Jan. 28, 2013--Wenbo V. Li, professor of mathematical sciences at the University of Delaware, died of a heart attack on Saturday, Jan. 26, near his home in Newark, Del. He was 49.

A noted mathematician who studied probability theory and stochastic processes, Prof. Li joined the University of Delaware Department of Mathematical Sciences after completing his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1992. He was promoted to associate professor in 1996 and achieved the rank of professor in 2002. He held adjunct positions with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UD, the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Delaware State University, and the Department of Mathematics at the Harbin Institute of Technology in Harbin, China. 

During his distinguished career, Prof. Li also held visiting positions at the University of Pennsylvania, Peking University and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and he was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Institute of Applied Mathematics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

He devoted himself to developing fundamental tools in probability theory to improve the understanding of random phenomena, with a specific focus on rare events.

In 2006, his numerous and deep contributions to the fields of probability and statistics were recognized with his election as a fellow of Institute of Mathematical Statistics.

Prof. Li advised numerous graduate students during his career and was an active mentor for many undergraduate research students. Since joining the University, he  spearheaded the development of probability as a research focus of the Department of Mathematical Sciences and was a central figure in the growing research prominence of the department. 

"His passing leaves a huge void in the mathematical community, in the life of the department and in the lives of his students, friends and family," said John Pelesko, professor and chair of the department.

Born in Harbin, China in 1963, he received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Jilin University.

Prof. Li is survived by his wife of 26 years, Sunny Xiang, and their son, James.

A public viewing will be held from 6-8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 1, at Mealey Funeral Homes, 3200 Limestone Rd., Wilmington. The funeral service on Saturday, Feb. 2, will be private.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to the Wenbo Li Memorial Fund for a scholarship in his honor. Checks can be mailed to Dr. Richard Fang, 021 CSB, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716.

Condolences may be left online at a Department of Mathcmatical Sciences website or at a memorial website.


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