Ron Irving is a professor emeritus in the Department of Mathematics at UW. After an early interest in astronomy, he decided at the age of eight to pursue mathematics. In high school, he attended summer programs in mathematics and in astronomy. Irving received his A.B. degree in mathematics and philosophy at Harvard and his Ph.D. in mathematics at M.I.T. He joined the faculty at UW in 1980.
In 2001, Irving received the UW Distinguished Teaching Award for his work with math majors planning on careers as secondary teachers. He then became department chair and developed the idea for SIMUW along with colleague Jim Morrow. After a year as chair, Irving became divisional dean of natural sciences, and later the interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Irving served again as department chair from 2013 to 2018.
Outside of mathematics, Irving is the secretary-treasurer of the Astrophysical Research Consortium, which runs Apache Point Observatory in southern New Mexico on behalf of UW and the other member universities. He is a trustee and vice chair of the board of the Summer Science Program, which runs a biochemistry program and the astrophysics program he attended long ago. It has operated since 1959 and serves as one of his inspirations for SIMUW. He was a board member and is now on the Advisory Council of the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, a state museum on the UW campus.