The College of Science and Department of Mathematics and Statistics mourn the loss of Dr. Ilya Zaliapin, the Trevor J. McMinn Endowed Research Professor in Science, who passed away unexpectedly on May 2, 2023.
Dr. Zaliapin was known as a kind, dedicated professor who was always willing to help his students. His thoughtfulness and compassion made him a respected leader on campus.
“Ilya was an outstanding citizen and collaborator across the College and University,” said College of Science Dean Katherine McCall. “His loss leaves a hole in the fabric of our community. I am grateful to have known and worked with him.”
Originally from Russia, where he completed his advanced degrees in mathematics and physics, Dr. Zaliapin spent five years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles. After working as an assistant researcher there, Dr. Zaliapin joined the University of Nevada, Reno’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics as an assistant professor in 2006. Three years later, he was named associate professor, and in 2016 was promoted to professor. Dr. Zaliapin served as the Director of the Graduate Program in Statistics and Data Science and had previously served as vice-chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
Dr. Zaliapin’s research interests ranged from rivers to earthquakes through the study of self-similar trees. He studied earthquake dynamics, helping seismologists understand how earthquakes develop and how to minimize damage. Dr. Zaliapin’s collaborations spanned across the University and the country. He received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the U.S. Geological Survey, and many other sources.
Dr. Zaliapin’s dedication to his students and his research is reflected in the several awards he won over the course of his career at the University. He was a Westfall Scholar mentor in 2010, supporting the top undergraduate student in the math department. He was awarded the Hyung K. Shin Outstanding Research Award in 2015, and in 2020 was named a Fulbright Scholar. Dr. Zaliapin was also an advisor to the first doctoral graduate of the Statistics and Data Science doctoral program, Zoe Haskell, in 2020. In 2022, Dr. Zaliapin was awarded the Trevor J. McMinn Endowed Research Professorship in Science, which he used to support his students. He felt it was important to ensure students were focused on their studies rather than their costs, and that this would lead to better outcomes all around.
“Ilya’s contributions to the department were enormous,” Department of Mathematics and Statistics Chair Tin-Yau Tam said. “He was a wonderful colleague, an excellent researcher, a dedicated instructor, and an exemplary citizen in the department. He will be greatly missed.”
Dr. Zaliapin’s wife, Elena Tchigriaeva, is the fiscal officer in Research & Innovation. Dr. Zaliapin is survived by Elena and their two young sons, Vladimir and Ivan. There is a GoFundMe page created in Dr. Zaliapin’s memory to support Elena and their sons, and a public funeral service will be held at Mountain View Mortuary on Saturday, May 13 from 12 - 1 p.m.