Academician Theodore Yaotsu Wu, former Academic Adviser of RCAS, has passed away

Academician Wu is an internationally renowned scientist in fluid mechanics and engineering science, specializing in aerodynamics, applied mathematical sciences, and fluid physics. His original contributions to the field of fluid mechanics include theories on cavitation, jet flows, wake flows, free streamline theory, ocean energy and wind energy, nonlinear water waves, and the flow phenomena generated by organisms moving through gas or liquid.

In 1999, under the leadership of then-president Yuan-Tseh Lee and with the support of academicians with engineering backgrounds such as Academician Theodore Yaotsu Wu and Academician Leroy L. Chang, the Academia Sinica established the “Institute for Applied Science and Engineering Research Preparatort Office”(IASER), which transformed into the “Research Center of Applied Sciences”(RCAS) in 2004.

Academician Theodore Yaotsu Wu served as an academic consultant during the early establishment of IASER, providing professional advice and direction multiple times, greatly aiding the establishment period of RCAS. RCAS expresses its gratitude and remembrance to Academician Theodore Yaotsu Wu and offers the deepest respect.

Academician Chen-Shui Tsai, the founding director of IASER, is very grateful for Academician Wu's selfless dedication and has specially written a commemorative article as follows:

A Loving Remembrance and Tribute to Professor Theodore Yaotsu Wu and Dr. Chin-Hua Wu
Dr. Chen S. Tsai, UC Irvine Distinguished Professor and Academician
Dr. Shirley C. Tsai, Professor Emeritus, California State University, Long Beach
(March 9, 2024)

Shirley and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Professor Ted Wu (吳耀祖)--- a world-renowned scholar, a beloved educator, a wonderful human being, and a generous mentor and dear friend to many. We delicate this heartfelt tribute to celebrate his magnificent life.

I. Beginning of Life-Long Associations with the Wu's and the Tengs

In 1964, when Shirley (Shieu-Lang 鄭秀蘭) began her Ph.D. studies in Chemistry at Caltech, she had the good fortune to meet and associate with Ted's wife Dr. Chin-Hua Wu (施琴華). After receiving her PhD in Chemistry from UCLA, Chin-Hua was working as a post-doctoral researcher in the photo chemistry laboratory of Distinguished Professor George Hammond. Shirley still vividly remembers her warmth and kindness, and genuine care for the graduate students from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China.

Although she did not get the opportunity to meet Professor Wu in person, Shirley saw him on campus occasionally and often heard of his outstanding reputation among the Caltech faculty.

Shirley is also grateful for her friendship with Dr. Evelyn Teng (李眉). Evelyn earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University in the early 1960's and subsequently worked as a post-doctoral researcher in the Biology Department at Caltech. Chen-Shui (蔡振水) was pleased to meet Evelyn during his Ph.D. study in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. She frequently offered valuable advice to Shirley as well as other newcomers from Taiwan. Evelyn and her husband Leon Teng (鄧大量), who earned his Ph.D. in Geophysics and Applied Mathematics from Caltech in 1966 and then joined the Geology Department of the University of Southern California (USC) and started its geophysics program, were so kind to host a reception at their house in celebration of our wedding at Stanford University Memorial Church in September 1967. Chin-Hua and many Caltech fellow students attended the celebration.

Chen-Shui first met Professor Wu in person shortly after joining UC Irvine from Carnegie-Mellon University in July 1980 at a conference sponsored by Southern California Chinese American Faculty Association (CAFA) and organized by Ted and Leon, then Professor of Geophysics at USC. For many years, Ted and Leon were the primary organizers of many professional activities of the Association. With the assistance of Chin-Hua and Evelyn, then Professor with USC Medical School, they held many events that were always well attended and earned resounding applause.

Authors at Stanford, CA, Feb. 2024.
II. Scholarly Achievements and Loyalty to Academia Sinica

Professor Ted Wu received numerous prestigious scholarly awards and honors such as American Physical Society Fluid Dynamics Prize, Theodore von Karman Medal of American Association of Civil Engineering, and membership to the US National Academy of Engineering. In 1984, he was elected to the membership (academician) of Academia Sinica (中央研究院)—equivalent to US Academies of Sciences and Engineering combined. The Academy was founded in mainland China in 1948 and holds biennial convocation to elect new members. Like his life-long loyalty to Caltech, Ted kept unwavering loyalty to the Academy.

Academician Wu was a very active member of the Academy. He and other senior Academicians such as Y.C. Fung (馮元楨), James Wei (韋潛光), P.K. Tien (田炳耕), Ernest S. Kuh (葛守仁), Y.S. Pao(包亦興), Henry Yang(楊祖佑), K.W. Han (韓光渭), S.T. Yau (丘成桐), C.C. Mei (梅強中), Ron Shen (沈元壤), Alfred Cho (卓以和), and Leroy Chang (張立綱) advocated to establish units in the fields of Applied Sciences and Engineering. Indeed, under the leadership of the then Academy President Yuan-Tse Lee (李遠哲) along with the support of many local leaders in various academic and industrial communities, the Presidential Office approved the establishment of Institute for Applied Science and Engineering Research (應用科學及工程研究所) in late 1998.

III. Inaugural Institute Directorship and Academic Advisory Committee

At the encouragement of Ted Wu, Leroy Chang, and Academy Vice President Shiang-Fa Yang (楊祥發) and other academicians, I accepted the offer to assume the Inaugural Directorship of the Institute of Applied Sciences and Engineering Research (IASER應用科學及工程硏究所). The inauguration ceremony was held on June 9, 1999, with some 400 attendees showing strong support for the new Institute.

I took a one-year sabbatical leave followed by a two-year leave of absence from UC Irvine to serve the Inaugural Directorship. Shirley also took a leave of absence from California State University, Long Beach to work at the Institute as a Visiting Professor of the National Science Council. In addition to conducting research, she served as thesis advisor to several graduate students from the local universities.

IASER Academic Advisory Committee Meeting, July 2, 2000. With Academician Wu standing next to my right.

Academician Wu served on the Academic Advisory Committee of the Institute and was among the most active and valuable members. He attended all the institute-organized conferences and workshops, and actively participated in the Q & A sessions. He was particularly unique in his efforts to encourage and advise junior attendees.

Every so often Academician Wu would call me to inquire about the status of the Institute. After hearing my frustrations with our limited funds and administrative assistance, and with the obstacles due to local politics and work culture, he would repeatedly comfort me and offer encouragement and thoughtful advice. All the Academic Advisory Committee members provided strong support for the Institute. In addition to Ted, Henry Yang(楊祖佑), Leroy Chang (張立綱), Ron Shen (沈元壤), Paul Chiu (朱經武), C.M. Ho (何志明), H. T. Kung (孔祥重), Simon Sze (施敏), Jin Wu (吳京), Frank Fang (方復), H.N. Yu (虞華年), Eric Lean (林耕華), and S.H. Lin (林聖賢) also courageously spoke out in support of the Institute at the critical junctures. I am also forever grateful to Academician Andrew H.J. Wang (王惠鈞), then the Director of Biochemistry Institute, and Chien-Jen Chen (陳建仁), then the Deputy Director of National Science Council, for their encouragements and advice.

Through conviction, determination, and hard work, we accomplished the two primary goals in the first year: (1) identification of four research thrusts (MEMS, Nanotechnology, Information/Communication, Microwave Magnetics) and (2) recruitment of four outstanding junior researchers. Academician Wu was very happy and offered me warm congratulations.

IV. Research Center for Applied Sciences (RCAS)

As one of the most dedicated and loyal members of the Institute's Academic Advisory Committee, Academician Wu always took pleasure in hearing about the growth of the Institute. Through the leadership of the succeeding Institute Directors, Dr. Yia-Chng Chang (張亞中), Dr. Din-Ping Tsai (蔡定平), Dr. San-Chih Gou (果尚志), and the current Director Dr. Pei-Kun Wei (魏培坤) with the support of former Academy Presidents Yuan-Tze Lee (李遠哲) and Chi-Huei Wong (翁啟惠), the current President Jun-Chih Liao (廖俊智) as well as Academy Vice Presidents such as Shiang-Fa Yang (楊祥發), Kuo-Shu Yang (楊國樞), Ovid J.L. Tzeng (曾志朗), Chao-Han Liu (劉兆漢), and the current Vice President Mei-Yin Chou (周美吟), the Institute was evolved and grown into the present Research Center for Applied Sciences (RCAS, 應用科學硏究中心). The Center has become a flourishing, internationally visible and recognized unit of the Academy.

Shirley and I were honored at the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Institute organized by Director Din-Ping Tsai on November 6, 2018. The celebration was held in the new Center site with an exhibition of the Center's research accomplishments. Several prominent foreign research collaborators also attended the event. After the celebration, trees were planted to commemorate the event. Unfortunately, Academician Wu was unable to attend the celebration due to illness. Undoubtedly, he would have greatly enjoyed the event. We are looking forward to attending the forthcoming 25th Anniversary Celebration being organized by the current Director Pei-Kun Wei prior to the biennial Academy Convocation this July.

I am very pleased to note that Director Wei (魏培坤)was one of the four junior researchers (Drs. C.H. Lee 李超煌, P.L. Chen 陳培菱, J.Y. Cheng 鄭郅言, and Dr. Wei) that I recruited during the first year of my Directorship. All four researchers have attained the rank of Full Researcher (equivalent to Full Professorship in university). Director Wei's amicable leadership traits as well as his professional integrity, unselfishness, and mentoring to the junior researchers have fostered and enhanced the morale and collegiality of the researchers and the staff members at the Center.

V. Leon Teng and Academia Sinica

Leon, Ted, and I all were fortunate to have the opportunity to contribute to Academia Sinica. It was quite remarkable that Academician Teng (鄧大量) took a sabbatical leave from USC in 1972 and led the major endeavor in the establishment of Institute of Earth Sciences (地球科學硏究所)in the Academy. His many tasks included negotiating a space for the Institute, finding funding, buying modern seismological equipment from the US, and going around the island to find suitable locations to set up monitoring stations. The Institute has long become a flourishing unit of the Academy. I still vividly remember when he visited the Institute several times during my tenure with the Institute of Applied Sciences and Engineering Research. I often saw him playing tennis with colleague Chi Yuan (袁祈) on the courts in the Academy campus. Shirley and I also fondly remember Leon and Evelyn visiting us in Irvine and playing tennis at the Turtle-Rock community courts. Leon was elected Academician of the Academy in 1990 and provided strong support for my election.

VI. Lifetime Friendship and Eventful Teaching

Over the past many years, Leon, Evelyn, Shirley, and I have enjoyed reliving our memories of Ted and Chin-Hua Wu. Like Ted, Leon has stayed connected with Caltech many years after earning his Ph.D. and doing research there. The two families live in the same neighborhood in Pasadena.

Shirley and I visited Ted and Chin-Hua at their home in Pasadena a couple of times. The visit in 2010 (Ca) was especially eventful and memorable. At that point, we had just begun studying “Faraday Waves” aimed at micro- and nano-droplets generation with potential application to pulmonary drug delivery. As a world-renowned expert in Fluid Mechanics, Ted gave us a lucid lecture on the physics of Faraday waves and showed us a video of his work with former graduate student G.S. Guthart on the effect of boundary on the Faraday waves. We were deeply touched by his love for science as well as his desire to share it with us. We were also very impressed to see a mini copy of The Analects of Confucius (論語) on the coffee table in their living room. No wonder Ted was known for his filial piety!

VII. Professor Ted Wu's 90th Birthday Celebration

It was a great pleasure for Shirley and I to join the celebration of Professor Wu's 90th birthday and Symposium in his honor on September 26, 2014 at Caltech Athenaeum. The grand event was jointly organized by Caltech professors Thomas Hou (侯一釗), Kaushik Bhattacharya, and Chris Brennen. Tom expressed his profound gratitude to Ted as a generous mentor, a great teacher, and a dear colleague. We had the pleasure of meeting Tom's wife Yu-Chung Chang (張鈺釧) and Ted's former student couple Li-San and Anne Hwang who had established an endowed Chair Professorship and three graduate fellowships in Professor Wu's honor. Ted and Chin-Hua enjoyed very much the large flower arrangement we sent for the happy occasion.

We were honored to give a post-dinner presentation on “Temporal Instability of Faraday Waves Leads to Ultrasonic Micro Droplet Generation”, with Ted who had once taught us the Physics of “Faraday Waves.” in the audience seating right next to the projection screen. We were very gratified to notice his nodding and pleasure for our discovery and realization of micro droplets generation at megahertz frequency.

Front Row: Sandy Chang, Li-San and Anne Hwang; Back: Ted Wu, Yu-Chung and Tom Hou.
Caltech VP Chris Brennen, Ted Wu, Tom Hou, and Yu-Chung Chang.
Shirley Cheng, Prof. Wu, and Chen Tsai
VIII. Dear Friends and Regrets

Since 1980 Ted and Chin-Hua and we had exchanged holiday and New Year greeting cards uninterrupted. They would write warm congratulatory notes whenever we received scholarly awards and honors. Chin-Hua also offered us parental comforts and concerns in several telephone conversations. We were deeply saddened by her passing in 2015. In recent years we had continued to send Ted greeting cards with large handwriting to lessen the stress due to his deteriorating eyesight. Very sadly, Ted was never able to acknowledge or respond. We also deeply regret that despite the wish to visit him again at his house in Pasadena, we kept postponing it due to our fear of driving on the freeway and being preoccupied by a series of health problems.

IX. Beautiful Family and Best Wishes

Ted and Chin-Hua were very proud of their son Fonda(柏宇), daughter Melba (柏琴) and their spouses, and the two grandchildren. They have long established successful careers in Engineering and Computer Science, and each has fostered a happy and prosperous family. We are certain that they all feel very blessed and grateful to have such extraordinary parents and grandparents. We would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to Ted and Chin-Hua's rich and magnificent lives, and we wish all the best to their surviving extended family.