Ranil Samaratunga (1972 - 2017) was a native of Sri Lanka. Ranil received his Ph.D. in December 2015 from the Department of Statistical Science at SMU under the direction of Professor Cornelis Potgieter. He came to SMU in 2010 after receiving a Master's degree from Sam Houston State in Hunstville, TX. His dissertation "Two New Methods for Estimating the Stability Index of a Stable Distribution," was the first directed by Dr. Potgieter.
Ranil was the husband of Melani Abeyakoon, and the proud father of their two beautiful children. He was a brave and gentle person who will be greatly missed.
Jim Hess (1951 - 2017) of Carthage Mo., received his B.S. degree in mathematics at University of Missouri, Rolla, and his masters and PhD from the Department of Statistical Science at SMU. After graduating, Jim taught statistics at Kansas State University, was a statistician for E.I. Dupont Co. for 15 years, then moved his family back to Carthage, where he worked for Leggett & Platt for 17 years, retiring in 2012. He volunteered to spend a year with us to revitalize our Consulting Center pro bono. He spent the 2015 calendar year in the department. The experience he brought to both the Center and to our students through his lectures and mentoring were invaluable.
Jim is survived by his wife Sue, three sons and a daughter, and eight grandchildren.