Moez Alimohamed, 1967-1994

On Monday night, August 29 Al-Moez Alimohamed, a graduate student in the Mathematics Department at Penn, was robbed and killed at 47th and Pine Streets. All of Moez' friends are shocked, outraged, and deeply grieved by this tragic and devastating loss. It is still hard to accept that he will not be among us this year.

Moez was a citizen of Pakistan, born on February 14, 1967 in Manilla, the Philippines, to Iqbal and Bilqueece Alimohamed. Because of his father's international career, initially in banking and later with the United Nations, Moez, together with his younger brother Farouk and sister Natasha, was brought up and went to school in many regions of the world: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Zaire, the United States, Switzerland, Malaysia, and Japan.

During his undergraduate education he spent his freshman year at Tufts University and received his B.A. in mathematics after 4 years from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He was a graduate student and Teaching Assistant for one year at Portland State University and then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania in 1990 to enter our Ph.D. program in Mathematics.

Moez was a dedicated student, but also fun loving. He was friendly and outgoing and had many friends among the graduate students, not only in Mathematics but also in the Physics and Computer and Information Science Departments. It was such a pleasure seeing him develop during his several years at Penn.

During his first years, Moez was a Teaching Assistant. He was enormously successful as a teacher. Even at this early stage, Moez exhibited a compelling ability to attract students to the subject. As a Teaching Assistant in Calculus courses, he often received departmental good teaching awards in recognition for his excellent teaching, which students described as "engaging", "very effective" and "inspiring". The last two summers, Moez independently taught sections of the Ideas in Mathematics course. He used an innovative pedagogical style and developed much of his own material for the course.

In May 1993 Moez passed his oral qualifying exam, the last formal requirement before mathematics students start on their research work. In July 1993 Moez was invited to participate in the highly competitive International Summer School in Logic for Computer Science, held in Chambery, France and sponsored by the European Union. Subsequently, he started working toward a dissertation. Moez' research was in mathematical foundations of programming structures, an area that spans mathematical logic and theoretical computer science.

During the past year his work went particularly well. In recognition of his promising research proposal he recently received a prestigious Graduate Fellowship from the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. This fellowship would have enabled him to concentrate on his research during the current academic year. Moez worked assiduously over the summer and finished writing up his first research paper, which he was about to submit to a leading research conference to be held in Edinburgh, Scotland in April 1995. A tentatively final version of the paper was printed out a few days before Moez' death.

Moez was on the verge of being recognized nationally and internationally for his outstanding results. His paper is likely to become a standard reference in the subject. He was scheduled to give a talk on his work in the Penn Logic and Computation Seminar this month. Moez also received an invitation to present a talk at the North American Jumelage Conference on Type Systems in Ottawa, Canada on October 10. This would have been Moez' first international conference presentation. Moez was, despite his talent, a very modest person and would not have boasted of these early recognitions of his accomplishments, but he was clearly proud of them.

Moez would have received his Ph.D. during the current academic year and then would likely have applied for a postdoctoral research position at an American, Canadian, or European university. He was well on his way to becoming a successful research mathematician and an outstanding teacher. He will be sorely missed by all of us, but his contributions, as well as his warm personality, will long be remembered.

Dennis DeTurck
Professor of Mathematics
and Undergraduate Group Chairman

Andre Scedrov
Professor of Mathematics and Computer and Information Science
and thesis advisor of Moez Alimohamed

Wolfgang Ziller
Professor of Mathematics
and Graduate Group Chairman