Words for Mustafa

I was very sad to learn about the accident with Mustafa and Zisan. Indeed, a big loss.

– Ubi D’Ambrosio (Brazil)


This was a very, very sad e-mail, and it is difficult to imagine never talk to Mustafa again at CERME, HPM and other meetings.

– Tinne Hoff Kjeldsen (Denmark)


The only thing I can say is that at least the whole family is together, wherever that might be…

I met them for the first time in Prague and both were so welcoming to me, sweet and so friendly.

A huge loss for our community.

My condolences for the rest of the family.

– Caroline Kuhn (England)


Very sad news indeed to all who knew them.

– Peter Ransom (England)


This is very sad news and indeed a huge loss for the mathematics education community.

As some of you know, Mustafa had been elected as representative of the young researchers in the ERME Board during the last ERME general meeting in February, and was enthusiastic to bring a deep contribution to the ERME community.

Mustafa and Zisan were wonderful people.

Our thoughts are with their families and friends.

– Viviane Durand-Guerrier (France)


Regina Moeller and I were deeply saddened to hear about the deaths of Mustafa and Zisan. We met Mustafa for the first time at the CERME conference 2013 in Antalya and recently in Prague. We have gotten to know him as a dedicated researcher and a very engaging and friendly man. This is a painful loss. We will honour his memory.

– Peter Collignon and Regina Moeller (Germany)


This is horrible news.

I met Mustafa for the first time at the HPM conference in Korea in 2012. Uffe Jankvist, Victor Katz, Stuart Rowlands and I were editing a special issue on history of mathematics for Science and Education, and, at the conference, we were already looking for possible contributors. Uffe had heard about Mustafa and told me about him. Mustafa and I had a long conversation, and I was impressed. In one of the emails later, when we deliberated on which papers would be accepted, I had this to say:

[Another paper] I am inclined to support is Mustafa’s–unless there is a call for rejection. … Mustafa is young, enthusiastic (as Uffe and I could see when we met him in Korea last year), and relatively unknown: he is the sort of researcher we said, at one point, we wanted to support. So, I would like to give him as much a chance as we can.

His paper was accepted unanimously, and we were not sorry.

We met again in Copenhagen just last year, where Mustafa gave a very interesting workshop. He had grown as a historian and educator, and I was looking forward to following his career – I had no doubt it would be very successful.

He and I were also in touch all the time via Facebook. I came to think of him not only as a colleague but as a friend–a true friend, not just a FB “friend.”  I could sense his good heart and humanity in all his postings and our communications and came to like him immensely. I never met Zisan, but the two of them seemed so happy together, and I was happy for them. I was very much looking forward to seeing Mustafa again and finally meeting Zisan in Hamburg next summer. That will not be.

– Michael Fried (Israel)


This is terrible news. I first met Mustafa at my (and his) first CERME in Rzeszow, Poland. Zişan was also there. I did not get to Antalya, but met him in Seoul, Copenhagen and, most recently, in Prague. His historical paper on mathematics in early journals of the Ottoman Empire (c. 1870) was particularly nice and well researched, complementing his core research interests in the use of history in the formation of mathematics teachers in Turkey. I was looking forward to welcoming him in Dublin, and hoped that Zişan would be with us too. You are right; their deaths are a huge loss to the ERME community and to HPM, in particular.

It is sad news for us all and especially for their families and those dear to them.

– Maurice O’Reilly (Ireland)


At every conference we shake hands with lots of people, and it may take a while to sort out whom you will have stimulating and long-term conversations with. Mustafa was different – from the very first time I met him (in Daejon), we had good discussions, and of course he struck me as a very friendly and interesting colleague. I was happy to meet him again in Copenhagen, where it felt like meeting an old-time colleague. I imagined that we would meet again for these biannual meetings for decades and that we would have many opportunities for collaborations.

That will not be. His absence from future meetings of the HPM group will be painful to us all. I can’t imagine the pain of his and Zisan’s families and close ones.

– Bjørn Smestad (Norway)


I am very shocked about this news (that I learned about the day after the accident).

I totally agree with Michael [Fried]’s thoughts and his evaluation for Mustafa, both as a personality and as a new enthusiastic scholar. I have met him several times, we were keeping in contact and I met him for the last time, last year in Copenhagen where I attended his very interesting workshop. What was very impressive – among so many other qualities Mustafa had – was his modesty and eagerness to learn.

I cannot feel anything else except that this is a big loss at levels.

– Costas Tzanakis (Greece)


I have academic and personal memories about Mustafa Alpaslan. I first met him when reading his papers. I appreciated his deep preparation in our field of research, his ideas and his commitment in linking mathematics education and history of mathematics. Afterwards I met him personally in conferences and again I have appreciated his presence in our community. As a young researcher he was a promise for the future of the HPM Study Group.

Mustafa was also a nice and very friendly person. When he sent me the photos of his marriage to Zisan I was very touched by this evidence of friendship. The photos made me happy since I felt that their love project was a real project for life. Unfortunately their life was too short and we’ll miss them.

As my Roman ancestors used to say for the loved friends who passed away “Sit tibi terra levis” (be the soil light to you).

– Fulvia Furinghetti (Italy)


It is very sad news indeed. They were such a nice, lively couple, enjoying life. I met Mustafa and his wife for the first time in Rzeszow, then Antalya and Prague. He was very much involved, enthusiastic and thorough in his research. A bright light. I feel very sorry for both their parents and other family.

– Jenneke Krüger (the Netherlands)


Life is unfair and nonsense.

I met Mustafa last February in Prague, I will always remember the Turkish Delights he brought to the working group and how this gesture showed the kind of person he was.

Rest in peace.

– Antonio Oller (Spain)


I first met Mustafa Alpaslan at the CERME conference in Antalya, Turkey, where all of the participants of the Working Group on History in Mathematics Education had a very good time thanks to the friendly atmosphere created by Uffe. Mustafa was there and from the very first time he spoke I was attracted to the passion he showed for his work, and for sharing it with the other members of the group. And, I liked the way he opened his eyes wide to listen to anyone, as if to absorb everything he heard. It was a pleasure for me to meet him anew at ESU in Copenhagen. I’ll miss him.

– Luis Puig (Spain)


I am sorry to hear of this loss!

– Bob Stein (USA)


…This is terrible news.  Though I never met Mustafa, we (the editors of the special issue [of Science & Education]) all agreed that he had great potential as a researcher.  I was hoping to be able to meet him next summer.  It is a terrible loss not only to his family but also to our community.

– Victor Katz (USA)


My favorite memory of Mustafa and Zisan was spending time with them at CERME-8 in Antalya, Turkey.  We met several times in the evening to discuss their academic plans, and Mustafa asked me to help him with some of his work in English, and I was happy to do so.  We shared many cups of tea and juice, and talked until late in the evening while in Antalya.  During the conference’s Gala dinner, Mustafa and Zisan saved a table for many of us so that we could enjoy the lovely meal, wine, and entertainment together.  It was a memorable evening, and I remember commenting on how beautiful they looked together and how much they clearly loved each other. Wherever Mustafa and Zisan went, whomever they spent time with – they brought such joy, they made such a positive impression, and they were so respectful and appreciative of all that they had. Mustafa had built such a reputation for himself – even before completing his Ph.D. – and so many knew he was destined for much success, and they respected his trustworthiness, his enthusiasm, and his intellect. Losing them to such a tragic accident will be felt by many for a very long time.

– Kathy Clark (USA)


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