In Memoriam: Ali Erhan Özlük, 1952-2012

Ali Erhan Özlük, Professor of Mathematics, 1952-2012
Our dear colleague, Professor Ali Özlük, passed away unexpectedly at his home in Bangor on March 1, 2012. Prof. Özlük was born Sept. 13, 1952, in Denizli, Turkey. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from Bogazici University in Bebek/Istanbul in 1974, he attended graduate school at the University of Michigan, where he received his Ph.D. in analytic number theory under the direction of Hugh Montgomery in 1982.Professor Özlük authored or co-authored 18 scholarly journal articles devoted to gaining insights into the distribution of the prime numbers, zeros of zeta functions and applications to problems in statistical mechanics and theoretical physics. In a pioneering 1993 paper coauthored with University of Maine Professor Chip Snyder, Professor Özlük studied the statistical properties of low-lying zeros of the family of real quadratic Dirichlet L-functions. This deep and insightful work attracted the attention of world-renowned experts in the field, as it provided some of the earliest evidence for the emerging Katz-Sarnak philosophy that such zeroes should behave statistically like the eigenvalues of certain random matrices. In 1998, Prof. Özlük was honored with an invitation to chair a session and speak at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Berlin. He had been an invited lecturer at numerous other venues, including the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, Berkeley, Calif., and Newton Institute, Cambridge, England. During his 25-year career at the University of Maine, Professor Özlük supervised or co-supervised many graduate students, taught just about every mathematics course the department offers from remedial algebra through Advanced Field and Galois Theory, and every fall semester recruited and coached the UMaine team participating in the annual Putnam Mathematics Competition. Students consistently spoke of his great patience with their questions, and colleagues marveled at the breadth of his knowledge and the depth of his insights into areas of mathematics quite remote from his own specialty. Professor Özlük was a cheerful and kind person, much loved by his family, friends, students and colleagues.  He will be greatly missed.