In Memoriam: Olga Radko

It is with our deepest sorrow that we inform you of the death of our colleague, Dr. Olga Radko, at the age of 45, on Monday, June 29, 2020. The loss of Olga will be felt by many. Our thoughts and prayers are with Olga’s family during this difficult time. 

Below is a tribute written by her husband, Dima Shlyakhtenko:

Olga Radko joined the UCLA Mathematics Department as a VIGRE Assistant Professor in 2002 after receiving her PhD from UC Berkeley. Her pioneering work on the complete classification of two-dimensional Poisson structures is well known in the field of Poisson geometry, where these objects are sometimes called Radko surfaces. 

In 2007, Olga founded the Los Angeles Math Circle, and served as its director until her death in 2020, continuing to work even while hospitalzed. LAMC was Olga’s passion and her creative energies and administrative talent led the program on a path to remarkable growth and impact.

Olga inspired a generation of schoolchildren to pursue studies in mathematics and related fields. Over 1,500 children attended the Math Circle during its first 13 years of operation. More than 170 UCLA students worked as docents in the Math Circle over these years and have learned first hand the joys of sharing beautiful mathematics with kids of all ages. Her experiences teaching mathematics to young children have lead her to write two books Breaking Numbers into Parts, co-authored with Dr. Oleg Gleizer.

Olga also ran the Mathematics Department TA training program.  She helped many UCLA graduate students become better teachers, and dozens of graduate students had their first experience teaching a course on their own under her supervision.

For the last 2.5 years of her life, Olga fought a hard battle against ovarian cancer. Despite being in continuous treatment for most of this time, she lost this fight on June 29, 2020. 

Olga was a devoted wife and mother. She is survived by her husband Dima Shlyakhtenko, her mother and sister, and two sons, Victor and Robert. The world has lost a wonderful person and an irreplacable gem.

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