Istanbul memorial conference

10 November 2008

On October 27th-31st, a special conference was held at Bogazici University in Istanbul, to honour Engin Arik and her colleagues who perished in a plane accident last November. The conference, called the ‘International Conference on Particle Physics  – “In Memoriam" Engin Arik and Her Colleagues’, brought together many colleagues and friends of Engin, all giving testimonies to her strong dedication to her students and tireless efforts to develop the field of high energy physics in Turkey. So it was a very special conference – not only emotional, but also interesting, given the breadth of physics topics covered. The full program can be found here.

The conference started with a memorial session to reminisce about the six physicists from Bogazici and Dogus University who perished in that accident. While Engin was the most internationally known, being a member of both ATLAS and CAST experiments, we also had the opportunity to hear more about her colleagues, three young PhD students: Berkol Dogan, Engin Abat and Mustafa Fidan (who had just married a month earlier), and Prof. Senel Boydag and Associate Prof. Iskender Hikmet, both from Dogus University.

The session’s first speakers were Gülay Barbarosoglu , vice-rector of Bogazici University, and Ahmet Ceranoglu, rector of Dogus University. Then Serkant Cetin, formerly Engin Arik’s student and now an Associate Professor at Dogus University, gave a moving speech, talking in fond terms about the six colleagues and friends he had lost. This gave all the attendees an idea of the incredible loss our colleagues from these two universities experienced.

The other speakers talked mostly about Engin, and her involvement in the Balkan Physical Union Conference Series as well as on CAST, ATLAS and the Turkish Accelerator Center (TAC), a new project undertaken by ten Turkish universities and coordinated by Ankara University.

A very nice slide show photo collection of the six physicists honoured at this conference were shown during the memorial session.

One aspect that could not be missed was the equal participation of Turkish and Greek physicists. This goes to show that physics has brought these two communities together, despite the historical divisions, again mainly thanks to Engin’s effort in that direction. All the Greek physicists mentioned how she had always been welcoming to them in their presentations.

Some of the afternoon sessions were held in the Rector’s historical library.

The rest of the conference was dedicated to various aspects of physics where Engin and her colleagues had been involved. It covered topics ranging from physics at the LHC, the CAST experiment, neutrino physics, spin physics and detector developments (CLIC, ILC and TAC). Many young (and not so young) ATLAS people gave presentations on what we expect to do in the coming years. Being a small conference attended by about 75 participants, all sessions were plenary sessions, offering everyone the opportunity to get up-to-date on many different topics.

The Bogazici University main campus offers great views on the Bosphorus and looks more like a botanical garden than a university campus.

The conference was held on the magnificent Bogazici University main campus, with its incredible views over the Bosphorus and a very active cat population. Everything was very well organised, with the local organisers, Erhan Gulmez, Zuhal Kaplan, Taylan Akdogan and Serkant Cetin, assisted by many friendly students from Bogazici and Dogus University, sparing no efforts to accommodate everybody’s needs, often way beyond the call of duty. We were treated to excellent food and an efficient organisation, giving us all the opportunity to really enjoy the conference.

Serkant proved to be an excellent and sometimes very funny session convener, while Zuhal went out of her way to take care of all organisational aspects. For those of us who overindulged, Erhan is the one to blame for his excellent taste in choosing the large variety of pastries that were offered at the tea breaks, and Taylan will deal with the proceedings which will be published in a special issue of the Balkan Physics Letters. All participants left the conference on Friday afternoon feeling both very happy and very sad that this conference took place.

One of the many friendly cats that came to the tea break to claim their share of the cookies.


Pauline Gagnon

Indiana University

Muge Karagoz Unel

Oxford University, UK