Alma had just completed her first year of a doctorate in mathematics and statistics at the Faculty of Science. She was highly respected as a young scientist — energetic, intelligent, and innovative. She had begun her doctoral studies at the University of Ottawa after receiving a master’s in mathematics from the Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic) in Iran, where she grew up. She had returned to Iran over the winter break to celebrate her 27th birthday with her family, who she dearly missed.
Alma was working in the Sankoff Laboratory alongside a group whose expertise includes the study of genes and genomes using a mathematical approach.
“She really touched our hearts. Her absence leaves an incredible void,” says her friend and lab-mate Mona Meghdari, who shared a strong bond with Alma. “She was a genuinely kind-hearted person, a rare gem. Alma was always present and supportive, more like a sister to me.”
Smart, approachable, generous and always smiling, Alma was valued for her skills and patience as a teaching assistant and beloved by the students who had taken her course in the fall. She would even keep additional unpaid office hours to help her students.
Alma was an inspiration to all. Many recall her radiant smile and her kindness.
Memory of her will remain etched in our memories and in our hearts. Her unexpected death is a major loss for the University and scientific communities.
A Memorial Scholarship Fund was created in honour of three Ottawa students; Mehraban, Saeed and Alma. The Iranian Students Memorial Scholarship will be awarded annually to Iranian students at the University of Ottawa who demonstrate financial need.
It’s a tragedy that’s devastated those who knew Alma , including executive director of the Canadian Mathematical Society, Termeh Kousha. Kousha is an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa, and Alma was her teaching assistant during the fall semester.
It was supposed to be a tough job in a first-year class of 250 students, but Alma excelled – and her students loved her. She used to hold additional, unpaid office hours, Kousha remembers. “The word that I would use for her – she was very dedicated,” said Kousha. “She told me ‘This is a challenge’ and she did a great job.”
She and Alma worked closely throughout the fall and shared much in common. It was difficult for Alma to be away from her family, with whom she was very close, Kousha said. But she was willing to go through it for her future and was already thinking about postdoctoral work. “She was full of life,” said Kousha. “I just can’t stop thinking of her.”
Text from: The University of Ottawa website