Brandon University mourns passing of longtime professor and renowned mathematician Dr. Susan Roddy

October 10, 2017

The Brandon University community is saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Susan Roddy.

Dr. Roddy was a long-standing member of the Department of Mathematics, where she taught set theory, algebra and advanced integration.

“Dr. Roddy will be remembered and missed for her valuable contributions to the Brandon University community,” said Acting Dean of Science Dr. Austin Gulliver. “We have lost an internationally renowned mathematician and a dedicated member of our faculty who inspired many students throughout her long career. We offer our deep condolences to Dr. Roddy’s family.”

Dr. Roddy was born in Duxford, England, and spent part of her childhood in the Sudan before the Roddy family moved to Canada. She received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in mathematics from Lakehead University, where her father was a professor of engineering. She went on to graduate from McMaster University with a Ph.D. in orthomodular lattices, a sub-discipline of algebra. The following year, she held a post-doctoral fellowship at the Technische Universität Darmstadt, a research university in Germany, and, thereafter, she continued with her research in orthomodular lattices and published regularly.

After joining the faculty of Brandon University in 1987, she became interested in ordered sets. At that time, the most important unsolved problem in ordered set theory was whether or not the multiplication of two sets possessing a certain well-known property called the ‘fixed point property’ would lead to a set that exhibited that same property. In 1994, after working for seven years, she astounded the mathematical community by solving the problem. The result, known as ‘Roddy’s Theorem,’ is now a standard feature of textbooks on ordered sets.

Continuing her research on lattices and ordered sets, Dr. Roddy worked for the past 10 years on a famous and even more challenging problem known as the ‘Union-closed Set Conjecture’ or the ‘Frankl Conjecture.’ The conjecture states that there is at least one element which, when chosen from the family of sets that are closed under the union operation, will belong to at least half of the sets in the family.

Over a span of 20 years, Dr. Roddy was awarded multiple grants by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC). She served as a referee for various mathematics journals and for grant proposals for both NSERC and the National Science Foundation (USA). She was on the editorial board for the Canadian mathematics journal Order. In 1996, she was honoured with the Brandon University Senate Award for Excellence in Research. Between 1981 and 2015, she published more than 30 academic papers

This past February, Dr. Roddy took active part in the Math Pack, bringing students, colleagues and friends together to raise money for Samaritan House. She was also a donor to the Brandon University Foundation, where she was a Member of the Order of the Sheaf.

Earlier this year, Dr. Roddy was recognized for her more than 30 years of service to Brandon University. Along with extensive teaching and research accomplishments, Dr. Roddy also served Brandon University in various other capacities, including on the BU Senate.

In honour of Dr. Roddy, BU has lowered its flag to half-mast.

We remind our entire BU community that we have services here to support you in times of grief.


Faculty & Staff:

There is also a Mobile Crisis Unit 24-hour help line at 204-725-4411.