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In honor of the Rice community members who passed away this summer

By Emily Nichol     8/17/12 7:00pm



Adilet Imambekov, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, passed away in July on a mountain climbing trip in his home country, Kazakhstan. Although his time at Rice was short, he was active in the community, and his sudden death is a tragic loss.

Imambekov worked on quantum mechanical condensed matter theory. 

"Adilet worked on fundamental problems," said Tom Killian, the chair for the department of physics and astronomy. "He was trying to understand how atoms and electrons move in very confined geometries, and these are very difficult problems that are actually very crucial for next generation technologies. He was laying the groundwork for the next great discoveries."

Imambekov's work had already earned him the A.P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship in 2010 and the National Science Foundation CAREER award in 2011. Imambekov received his doctorate from Harvard University and was a postdoctoral associate at Yale University before coming to Rice as a faculty member in 2009. 

Imambekov's students remember his acute intelligence. "I took his Condensed Matter class the second year he taught it and I remember constantly thinking this guy knows his stuff," said Tal Einav, Martel '12. "Any time he was asked a question, he would answer it on the spot with no hesitation."

Einav also recalled Imambekov's original teaching style. 

"For the first time in my life, I was given the freedom to learn things at my own pace and truly understand the fundamental concepts in the research project," Einav said. 

Imambekov is remembered by his colleagues for his approachable intellect.

"He was really a brilliant young physicist," said Killian. "He was definitely one of the most intelligent people I've ever interacted with. When you talked to him about a problem or some new idea that you had, the insight he would be able to bring to bear was amazing."

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