Taylor was born in Northern California; her father was a lawyer, her mother a schoolteacher, and she had two siblings. She did her undergraduate studies at Mount Holyoke College, graduating summa cum laude with an A.B. in 1966. She began her graduate studies in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, but after receiving an M.Sc. she switched to mathematics under the mentorship of S. S. Chern and then transferred to the University of Warwick and received a second M.Sc. in mathematics there. She completed a doctorate in 1972 from Princeton University under the supervision of Frederick J. Almgren, Jr.
She has been married three times, to mathematician John Guckenheimer (her fellow student at Berkeley), to her advisor Fred Almgren (with whom she had a daughter and two step-children), and to financier and science advocate William T. Golden.
Taylor is known for her work on the mathematics of soap bubbles and of the growth of crystals. In 1976 she published the first proof of Plateau's laws, a description of the shapes formed by soap bubble clusters that had been formulated without proof in the 19th century by Joseph Plateau.
Awards and honors
Taylor is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Women in Mathematics, and the American Mathematical Society. In 2001, she received an honorary doctorate from Mount Holyoke.
- Taylor, Jean E. (1976), "The structure of singularities in soap-bubble-like and soap-film-like minimal surfaces", Annals of Mathematics. Second Series 103 (3): 489–539, MR 0428181.
- Taylor, J. E.; Cahn, J. W.; Handwerker, C. A. (1992), "Overview No. 98. I. Geometric models of crystal growth", Acta Metallurgica et Materialia 40 (7): 1443–1474, doi:10.1016/0956-7151(92)90090-2.
- Taylor, J. E. (1992), "Overview No. 98. II. Mean curvature and weighted mean curvature", Acta Metallurgica et Materialia 40 (7): 1475–1485, doi:10.1016/0956-7151(92)90091-R.
- Almgren, Fred; Taylor, Jean E.; Wang, Lihe (1993), "Curvature-driven flows: a variational approach", SIAM Journal on Control and Optimization 31 (2): 387–438, doi:10.1137/0331020, MR 1205983.
- Cahn, J. W.; Taylor, J. E. (1994), "Overview No. 113. Surface motion by surface diffusion", Acta Metallurgica et Materialia 42 (4): 1045–1053, doi:10.1016/0956-7151(94)90123-6.
- Taylor, Jean E. (2006), "Soap bubbles and crystals", Resonance 11 (6): 26–30, doi:10.1007/BF02838879.
- Emeritus faculty listing, Rutgers University Mathematics Department, retrieved 2012-07-04.
- Visiting members and research fellows, Courant Institute, retrieved 2012-07-04.
- "Jean E. Taylor: Five Little Crystals and How They Grew", Profiles of Women in Mathematics: The Emmy Noether Lectures, Association for Women in Mathematics, 2003, retrieved 2012-07-04.
- Jean Ellen Taylor at the Mathematics Genealogy Project.
- AWM history, Association for Women in Mathematics, retrieved 2012-07-04.
- Overbye, Dennis (October 9, 2007), "William T. Golden, Financier and Key Science Adviser, Is Dead at 97", New York Times.
- Taylor (1976).
- List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2013-08-25.