Jerome R. Cox Jr., a senior professor emeritus of computer science and engineering at Washington University’s McKelvey School of Engineering in St. Louis, died Tuesday, January 17, 2023, in St. He is 97 years old.
Cox joined the faculty of Washington University in 1955 and contributed greatly to the fields of biomedical computing, multimedia communications and computer networking. He and a graduate student, A. Maynard Engrebretson, built a computer to measure the hearing of infants. Their work paved the way for early detection of deafness and for mandated screening tests for newborns in the United States.
Cox’s work made a major impact on biomedical research at Washington University and around the world. In 1964, he brought the Laboratory Instrument Computer, known as LINC, and its development team to WashU from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). LINC revolutionized biomedical research by integrating computer science with medicine, allowing researchers to program data analysis on the fly, and is considered one of the first personal computers. In the same year, he founded the Biomedical Computing Laboratory, which introduced small computers to biomedical research.
His pioneering work in radiation treatment planning paved the way for worldwide operating systems. The computer methods developed by his research group for the reconstruction of images from CT and PET scanners help in the diagnosis of cancers and cardiovascular diseases. His innovations helped develop early monitors for heart rhythm disorders. He also worked on computer applications of human genome mapping and electronic radiology. He holds 12 US patents and has published more than 150 journal publications.
“A year or so before COVID, I had lunch with Jerry,” said Aaron Bobick, dean and James M. McKelvey Professor of the McKelvey School of Engineering. “At the age of 94, he told me about the two startups he is currently working on and how one of them has achieved significant traction in the Department of Defense. Jerry is a unique combination of excellence, passion and humility. His life and his legacy are an inspiration to us all.”
R. Martin Arthur, the Newton R. & Sarah Louisa Glasgow Wilson Emeritus Professor in the Preston M. Green Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering, worked with Cox in the early 1970s.
“I only worked with him in my first days as a new faculty member, but he changed the course of my career,” said Arthur. “He asked me to join him and Floyd Nolle in a paper on digital EEG analysis that was published in the Proceedings of IEEE and was republished and cited many times. On top of that, I did electromagnetics in my doctoral work, and the paper with Jerry and Floyd channeled my career in image and signal processing.
Cox recently sent Arthur a copy of Cox’s memoir, “Hard Work, Kindness.”
“He’s real about that,” Arthur said. “His influence is worldwide. He works with people all over the world and does it in such a kind, gracious way.”
Cox, the Harold B. and Adelaide G. Welge Professor of Computer Science at Washington University from 1989-1998, was the first chair of the Department of Computer Science & Engineering from 1975-1991. He was instrumental in building a department with an international reputation for biomedical computing applications and computer networking. With department colleagues Jonathan Turner and Guru Parulkar, he founded Growth Networks, a company acquired by Cisco Systems in 2000 that developed an advanced networking chip set and became a model for technology transfer initiatives. at the university.
Cox is survived by three children, Nancy (Craig) Battersby, Jerry (Margaret) Cox, and Randy (Patty) Cox; a sister, Anita Hunt; eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara (Bobby), in 2006.
Memorial contributions are suggested to the Central Institute for the Deaf; the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis (awarded McKelvey Engineering-Jerome Cox Graduate Fellowship in Computer Science & Engineering); or the Audiology & Communication Sciences Scholarships Program at Washington University.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 18 at Bopp Chapel, 10610 Manchester Road, Kirkwood, Mo., with a reception to follow from 2-5:30 p.m. at the Whittemore House at Washington University, 6440 Forsyth Blvd., St. Louis, Mo.
Read the full obituary on the engineering website.