Professor William W. Roberts, Jr., a native of Huntington, West Virginia, earned his S.B. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964 and his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1969. Professor Roberts came to the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia as an assistant professor in 1969. In 1974, he was promoted to associate professor; in 1982, he became full professor; in 1992, he was appointed to the Commonwealth Professor Chair of Engineering and Applied Science; and in 2004, he was appointed Director of Applied Mathematics. The UVA Board of Visitors appointed Professor Roberts at his retirement in 2010 Professor Emeritus.

Professor Roberts has carried out consulting work for industrial firms and has held visiting positions at: the State Univ. of New York, the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques in France, the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, the Stockholms Observatorium in Sweden, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Leiden in The Netherlands, the Kitt Peak National Observatory, the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, the NASA Langley Research Center, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and the NASA Ames Research Center. Among these visiting appointments were honorary awards of NORDITA Guest Professorship in 1974-75 and National Research Council Senior Research Associateship in 1989.