Fellowship in memory of Engin Arik

23 June 2008

Bilge Demirkoz, together with Mesut Arslandok and Cemile Ezer, this year's Engin Arik-Akbank fellows, and Murat Gollu, from Akbank's corporate communications department.

After the tragic loss of the ATLAS and CAST collaborator, Professor Engin Arik along with five of her colleagues in a plane accident last November, her family, friends and co-workers are making sure that her memory and her great love for physics remain alive.

At the initiative of the ATLAS Women’s Network in collaboration with John Ellis, the head of relations with non-members states at CERN, the Engin Arik Fellowship was setup. This fund will allow Turkish students to join the CERN’s Summer Student Program, as official recipients of the fellowship based on merit. This year, Seda Persembe, a physics student from Kirikkale University in Ankara, received the Fellowship and she will join the other summer students from non-member states coming to CERN: “I got to know Engin in a workshop organized by the Turkish Accelerator Center project and she was my inspiration to take on the challenge of particle physics.”

“For this reason, I feel very honored to have been awarded the Engin Arik Fellowship, it’s a great opportunity for me as this is going to be my first visit to CERN,” she says.

The summer school will be an excellent opportunity to give Seda a taste for experimental particle physics and to meet other young physicists from all over the world. “Summer students are really lucky this year as the LHC will be switched on during the time we’ll be at CERN, it’s such an exciting period here,” she adds.

Engin Arik and her husband, Metin Arik, at the International Student Congress of the Balkan Pyhsics Union (ISCBPU-5) in Bodrum, Turkey. She is seen here with two of her students, Özgen Berkol Dogan (left) and Engin Abat (right). Both also perished in the plane accident.

The fellowship will continue for as long as funding allows, but the ATLAS collaboration has already guaranteed support for one student for two months for three years and the University of Patras has committed three thousand euro for the first two years. CERN will contribute as well as the European Union dark matter network ILIAS, which promised to contribute a few thousand euro by the end of 2008.

Money has been pledged from other institutes and individuals from Greece, UK, USA and Turkey, and more funds are sought. Institutes can still contribute by transferring funds to Team Account T273875 using a standard CERN TID form. Individuals can also give money to the Fund. A bank account has been opened by John Ellis and Pauline Gagnon at the UBS bank at CERN. The account’s IBAN number is CH8800279279289067M1J and its BIC (or SWIFT in the USA) code is UBSWCHZH80A. Anybody from anywhere in the world can transfer money to this account in any currency. All the money collected will go toward the fellowship.

Akbank, one of the main banks in Turkey, is also contributing to keep alive the name of Engin Arik by funding two more students to join CERN’s Summer Program. This year, Mesut Arslandok and Cemile Ezer will come over to CERN, thanks to Akbank’s sponsorship: “We are proud to sponsor two Turkish young physics students who will be a part of Turkey’s critical outlook. We believe that innovation is very important for Turkey’s future and we should support it not only in the banking sector in which we have expertise, but also in all other main fields,” says Meral Tabakoglu, Akbank’s head of corporate communications.

Bilge Demirkoz, a Turkish CERN fellow working on ATLAS, is the initiator of this collaboration between Akbank and CERN. Bilge, on a personal initiative, contacted many organizations and foundations in Turkey asking them to support the Engin Arik Fellowship: “Professor Engin Arik was very passionate about her students’ future and their education. I thought the best way to contribute to her living memory was to find sponsors for the Engin Arik fund.”

On June 9, Bilge and the two students that received the Engin Arik-Akbank Fellowship, had an opportunity to explain the importance of the work done by Engin Arik in supporting particle physics in Turkey to a national newspaper Hürriyet: “ I told the journalists about CERN and the reason why we have the Summer Student Program here and why it’s important for Turkey that young Turkish physicists join it,” she says.  Also, Bilge explains, it was a good opportunity to point out how Akbank’s collaboration makes a good example on how the private sector can get involved in educating the brains of tomorrow so that others will follow. Turkish Airlines (THY) is also contributing to the Engin Arik fellowship by flying the Turkish students at a discount rate.

All the money gathered follows the Engin Arik’s past efforts to find the necessary funds for her students and colleagues to participate in experiments at CERN. Despite the financial difficulties, Engin always had a very optimistic view and joined collaborations such as CHORUS, SMC, ATLAS and the CERN Axion Solar Telescope (CAST) early on.

The International Conference in Particle physics that will take place in Istambul on October 27-31 is another initiative to honour Engin's memory almost one year after the accident. Her colleagues in the Physics Department at Bogazici University, under the initiative of Erhan Gumez, proposed to organize this conference and planned it to happen on Engin’s 60th birthday. Peter Jenni, Christine Kourkoumelis and Pauline Gagnon, who have all worked with Engin in ATLAS for many years, have been invited to give a presentation at the conference: "I was always impressed by her positive attitude and her dedication to her work. I hope this conference will continue her efforts to form close ties between CERN and the Turkish physics community," Pauline says. “I am really touched by this invitation.”

After all the hard work Engin pioneered, the Turkish physics community hopes that one of her dreams for which she strove hard in life will come through: that Turkey will someday become a full member of CERN instead of an associate member. “For this, it is very important that the physics students be trained at CERN already, while we look forward to increasing our involvement at CERN and the many experiments here,” Bilge says.




Cristina Jimenez