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2023. 05. 17 -

Audrius Alkauskas is remembered by his colleagues and friends (updating)

As Dr. Audrius Alkauskas passed away, his colleagues, friends and associates from Lithuania and abroad mourn the loss of our beloved scientist. We share their posts in memory of Audrius.
Prof. Gintaras Valušis, Director of FTMC
"It is difficult to find words to express this loss...
Audrius Alkauskas, head of the Electronic Structure Theory Laboratory in the Department of Fundamental Research and the leader and founder of the informal theoretical group "Puntukas", one of the most prominent theoretical physicists of the middle generation, has left Center for Physical Sciences and Technology.
Not only an exceptional talent in physics, but also a multifaceted personality, able to mobilise like-minded people, to spark curiosity, to inspire Creativity and scientific enquiry... He had the incredible erudition of a physicist and a subtle flair, a penchant for music and creative writing...
Audrius' scientific ideas shone through in a very productive, colourful and inventive way. Working with Love and Imagination, which has led to many cornerstone articles and reports on electronic structure semiconductors, to international projects and to the future directions of the continuously intensifying activities of the research group...
The vocation of physics, the inner blessing of the Creative Impulse and ... a patient encounter with oneself... It was all so vivid, but it was so brief. Too brief."
Rest in peace, dear Audrius!"
Audrey Fischer, retired from the University of Basel
„Dear Audrius,
It is with a heavy heart that I bid you farewell for your last voyage. You left this world and everyone who loves you much too early. Your and my name are identical; yours the masculine and mine the feminin version. This made for a special bond. Rest in peace, my friend.“
Dr. Rasa Pauliukaitė, Principal Researcher of Department of Nanoengineering at FTMC
Kiekvienas žingsnis džiaugsmu kitoks
Taškas tik laiką iš erdvės pavogs
Viskas savo vietose kol šypsaisi
Chlorofilo žaluma nes meilė didesnė
Už visuotinį energijos tvermės dėsnį
Viskas savo vietose kol žalia
Apsikabinimai šilti kiekvienam atomui
Šiltas delnas naujos knygos tomui 
Viskas savo vietose kol akys švyti
Gaidos skamba šviesos tyloje
Muzikos detektyvo naujoje byloje
Viskas savo vietose kol rožės raudonos
Žodžiai išnyra tarp kvantinių lygčių
Eilėmis ir ritmais tarp lygių lyčių
Viskas savo vietose kol eilėraštis
Kūrėjas eksperimentą patikrina gyvai
Kai nesi čia nors ką tik buvai
Viskas savo vietose kol atmintis?
Dabar energija lieka po kito plunksna
Ir kolegoms „Puntukas“ ant širdies dunkso
Nieko nelieka vietose tik ašaros
Dr. Yasser Omar, President of Portuguese Quantum Institute
"Very sad and shocked by the passing of our colleague Audrius Alkauskas, a talented physicist who contributed to get Lithuania involved in the @QuantumFlagship and in @WorldQuantumDay. My deepest sympathies to his family and friends, & especially his former student @MazenaMackoit."
Dr. Marcus W. Doherty, Leader of Diamond Quantum Science and Technology Laboratory at Australian National University
"On behalf of the Diamond Quantum Science and Technology Laboratory of the Australian National University, I offer the following reflections of the remarkable Dr Audrius Alkauskas.
In the truest sense, Audrius embodied the best of what it means to be a scientist.
His intellectual integrity and curiosity were absolute and unwavering. He was one of the few of us, who sought and attained complete understanding of each topic he pursued. This unusual depth of understanding enabled him to make connections and solve problems the rest of us could not. Yet, at the same time, he was the first to admit when he didn’t understand something and would listen to your explanations intently. I will never forget Audrius saying to me that ‘Marcus, I cannot be a co-author of this paper because I have not yet mastered all aspects of our work, and I believe that all authors must be able to explain their paper’.
Accordingly, Audrius became renowned for delivering the highest-quality science of deep significance and a trusted authority in our field.
Audrius’ intellectual virtue was perhaps only surpassed by his personal qualities. Audrius was full of life and wonder. He energized and brought people together through his curiosity and enthusiasm for scientific community. He was selfless and deeply cared for his colleagues and students. Moreover, he devoted himself to advancing science in Lithuania. The pride and hospitality he exhibited when I visited Vilnius was overwhelming. His passion for home was perhaps only matched by his love of Mexican food that he developed whilst in California.
As a personal note, I counted Audrius as a friend as well as a colleague. I felt that Audrius and I understood each other, that we shared a philosophy and we were united in our purpose.
I am thankful that he imparted his scientific character to his students and post-docs, so that it may live on.
Audrius, you will be sorely missed by science and by me."
Dr. Linas Vilčiauskas, Principal Researcher of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Technology at FTMC
Audrius Alkauskas: Great scientist, Colleague, Friend, Mentor. In memoriam.
"We are all deeply saddened by a sudden loss of our colleague, mentor, and a dear friend Dr. Audrius Alkauskas. He will be always remembered as a distinguished member of our community as well as a brilliant and inspirational scientist.
I first met Audrius back in Summer of 2008 in an unexpected place. It happened on the discussion forum of one of the density functional theory programs. He was an already experienced postdoc at the EPFL in Lausanne (Switzerland), I was a fresh PhD student at the Max Planck Institute in Stuttgart (Germany). It was immediately obvious from his questions and comments on different aspects of applying DFT to solids that he possessed a very deep and profound understanding of the field.
This was followed up by our first in person meeting at one of the coffee shops in Vilnius around Christmas of 2008 which included a lot of scientific discussions and a great deal of mentoring advice from him. The professional and personal friendship have continued ever since, until the very day of his tragic loss.

(Visiting Mount Wilson Observatory with Audrius (Los Angeles, September 2013). Photo from L. Vilčiauskas' personal archive)

Our communication was not only limited to email exchanges but also included multiple coincidental meetings in different parts of the world. It could have been over a cup of Glühwein at the Christmas market, when Audrius made a stop in Stuttgart during his move from Switzerland across the pond in 2010.

Or it could have been over a Mexican food, we were both fond of, whether in California while he was on his second postdoc at the University of California, Santa Barbara and I was an NSF Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles, or in Texas, during the 2015 American Physical Society Meeting in San Antonio.

(Materials Department Seminar at the University of California, Santa Barbara (October 2013, Host and organizer: Dr. Audrius Alkauskas (UCSB); Guest speaker: Dr. Linas Vilčiauskas (UCLA), notice a dog next to Audrius which just randomly showed up for the seminar. Photo from L. Vilčiauskas' personal archive)

For many of us, Audrius was a great inspiration as a scientist and a person, someone to look up to. He was one of the people you could have a discussion on virtually any topic ranging from physics to classical literature and back to American entertainment and politics. He was also one of the important players who contributed towards our decision to move to Lithuania and join FTMC in 2017. Our friendship and colleagueship continued after joining FTMC. All the discussions and experience he shared with us during coffee breaks and lunches became an essential part of daily life and will be missed dearly.

We have lost a great mind and a wonderful spirit. Rest in peace, dear Audrius!"

Prithvi Reddy, Doctoral Candidate of Laser Physics Centre at Australian National University

"I had the privilege of being welcomed by Audrius as a visiting PhD student to Lithuania. To me, Audrius was a patient and passionate teacher that inspired curiosity and creativity in his students. He was brilliant and exemplified the best qualities of scientific inquiry and open curiosity. He was uniquely able to explore and explain remarkably difficult topics with a humble ease that was inspiring.

I also remember his deep care for his community, students and home. His admirable qualities and approach to life were a profound inspiration in my own approach to life. The opportunity to spend time with him is something I will forever cherish and be grateful for."

Prof. Jonas Žmuidzinas, Director of Caltech Optical Observatories

"Audrius buvo puikus ir daug pasiekęs mokslininkas, bet dar svarbiau – nuostabus žmogus. Reiškiu giliausią užuojautą Audriaus šeimai, draugams ir kolegoms.

Pirmą kartą su Audriumi susipažinau 2012 m. gruodžio menesį, kai jis buvo Kalifornijos universiteto Santa Barbaroje „postdoc“. Buvau neseniai grįžes iš SEMWO 2012 kosmoso konferencijos Vilniuje – apsilankymas Lietuvoje mane labai įkvėpė, ir buvo malonu ir įdomu susitikti su Audriumi, jaunu mokslininku iš Lietuvos. Mes susitikome mano namuose Pasadenoje, Kalifornijoje, kelios valandos kelio nuo Santa Barbaros, ir Audrius pakalbino mane dėl straipsnio, kurį parašė „Delfi“ portalui. Man buvo labai smagu praleisti laiko su Audriumi, jis mane nustebino, kad ne tik turėjo milžiniškos energijos moksliniam darbui, bet ir rado laiko daugybei kitų veiklų.

Gerai prisimenu, kaip 2017 metais Lietuvos nacionalinės fizikų konferencijos metu Audrius surengė labai smagią vakarienę savo namuose. Jis buvo man dar prieš metus parašęs, kviesdamas dalyvauti konferencijoje. Greitai priėmiau kvietimą, ir atrašiau: „Tikiu, kad tau Lietuvoje viskas gerai sekasi. Matau, kad rašai daug straipsnių!“ Ir išties, Audrius grįžęs į Lietuvą buvo labai produktyvus.

Kai praeitą mėnesį buvau Vilniuje ir lankiausi „Open Readings“ konferencijoje, turėjau vos kelias minutes pasikalbėti su Audriumi, nes man reikėjo skubėti ruoštis skaityti paskaitą. Labai skaudu suprasti, kad tos minutės yra paskutinės, kurias praleidau kartu su Audriumi.

Pridedu kalėdinį atviruką, kurį Audrius man atsiuntė 2014 m. Priklijuotas pašto ženklas – pirmieji Lietuvos kosminiai palydovai. Audriaus gyvenimo kelias mums primena šių palydovų iš kosmoso skleidžiamą signalą – „Lietuva myli laisvę“."

Prof. Chris G. Van de Walle, Head of Computational Materials Group at University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Department 

"Audrius was a member of my Computational Materials research group from 2011 to 2014, and we kept collaborating ever since. He contributed in major ways by producing cutting-edge scientific results, but even more importantly by unlocking entirely new research directions. He built up our capabilities in the area of electron-phonon interactions, enabling exquisitely accurate calculations of luminescence lineshapes and establishing a reliable formalism for calculating defect-assisted recombination. These accomplishments led to high-impact publications in technologically relevant areas such as solid-state lighting and quantum information science.

Audrius had an unusually deep and very active knowledge of physics, and we all greatly benefited from his insights, creativity, and guidance. More broadly, his wide-ranging interests and talents (ranging from music to philosophy to literature) made every interaction an enriching experience. Audrius was extremely generous, both with his scientific expertise and with his friendship; I am tremendously grateful for having known him as a colleague and a friend."

(Chris G. Van de Walle, Audrius Alkauskas and Alfredo Pasquarello at the Gordon Research Conference on Defects in Semiconductors, August 2018. Photo from Chris G. Van de Walle's personal archive)

(Marek Maciaszek, Giedrius Alkauskas, Chris G. Van de Walle, Audrius Alkauskas, Mažena Mackoit-Sinkevičienė and Lukas Razinkovas in Vilnius, October 2018. Photo from Chris G. Van de Walle's personal archive)

(Van de Walle group, 2012; Audrius Alkauskas on the left. Photo from Chris G. Van de Walle's personal archive)

Dr. Carol Tsai, Digital Technology Research Scientist at the Dow Chemical Company

"Although we did similar research at the time, it was actually in choir that I met and got to know Audrius a little. He was such a bright and wonderful spirit, bringing his whole self to those several hours of rehearsal each week. His passion and joy for music and for everything he engaged in was inspiring and infectious. After we both left UCSB, we kept in contact here and there. He was always kind, generous, and thoughtful in our interactions.

He truly understood what it is to connect with others in a deep and human way. The world lost Audrius much too soon and I know he will be missed by all the people whose lives he touched. I wish his loved ones strength and comfort as they navigate this heartbreaking time. Rest in peace, dear Audrius."

Prof. Alexis Baratoff, Titular Proffesor of Nanolino - Meyer group at Department of Physics, University of Basel

"We were all shocked by the news and are very sad that the Laboratory of Electronic Structure Theory at FTMC and Science in Lithuania suddently lost a talented and inspiring leader.

During Audrius’s PhD years in Basel (2003-2006), Christoph Bruder and I were impressed by his eagerness to work with experimentalists and to keep in touch with colleagues and activities in other groups. Over the years he became a well-recognized specialist in his field, but he always acknowledged the inspiring atmosphere which he enjoyed in Basel, as well as the skills which he acquired there.

Later, Audrius and I corresponded irregularly and met a few times in Zürich and around to talk about physics and many other things, the last time in April 2015 in Zürich when he also visited Christoph and met Patrick Maletinsky in Basel. Our last exchange took place Jan. 2021.

My Basel colleagues wholeheartedly welcome your Center's initiative to create an In Memoriam page for Audrius. Let me contribute the following photos attached herewith:

Audrius in his office, 12.04.2003.

At the party in our group's meeting room following his Ph.D. exam; Audrius opening a bottle... To his right myself and his twin brother Giedrius.

The result... Prof. Christoph Bruder to his right.

Audrius receiving his first farewell present...

...and his last one... To his left Dr. Thomas Jung; Audrius collaborated with three experimentalists from his group."

Dr. Youngho Kang, Assistant Professor at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Incheon National University, South Korea

"I would like to express my sincere condolences on the passing of Audrius Alkauskas. I first met him at UCSB about 5 years ago, and it was such a pleasure to talk to him. I believe that he is one of the greatest scientists in condensed matter physics I have ever met. I am learning a lot from his works these days.

In addition, he was a kind and generous friend who was willing to share his knowledge and help others do research. I will never forget his kindness. I pray that God grants him eternal rest and strength to endure great pain for his family."

Dr. Minseok Choi, Associate Professor at the Department of Physics in Inha University, South Korea

"Audrius Alkauskas, who was in the same group at UCSB as a postdoc, was a very active and sociable friend. Smart, kind, and all-around talented, Audrius was a friend beyond compare. I was looking forward to seeing him again at UCSB when I returned after 10 years for my research year, but the sudden loss of him makes me very sad. Coincidentally, I am using the office he used, and every time I look at his desk, it brings back memories of hiking, having lunches, and many things we enjoyed together. It breaks my heart…

I will never forget you, Audrius. May you be at peace in that place."

(Audrius and his car: on the way of Mt. Tyndall, Aug 11-14, 2011. Photo from Minseok Choi's personal archive)

(Audrius: on Mt. Tyndall, Aug 11-14, 2011. Photo from Minseok Choi's personal archive)

Marina Radulaski, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of California, Davis

"I met Audrius Alkauskas at the 2018 Gordon Conference on Defects in Semiconductors in New Hampshire. At the time, the community was looking deeply into diamond silicon-vacancy center and trying to understand its spectral features. I clearly remember Audrius lecturing on his group’s exciting DFT result that closely matched the major and minor features in experimentally obtained spectra. Having had stared at these spectra for several years in the lab, I remember Audrius’ talk made it all click together and I thought ‘Great, someone’s got this!’

I will remember Audrius as a person with wide interests who truly cared about people. His consideration for the audience was obvious as he didactically bridged worlds of theory and experiment. Audrius promoted his students’ accomplishments and mentored them to become experts in the field that gathered international scientific attention. His online activities showed that he cared about promoting science and making Lithuania an excellent place for research. As a junior colleague who had taken a tenure-track faculty position, I too, benefited from Audrius’ support and scientific perspectives and was looking forward to talking to him at conferences. Beyond science, I appreciated his sense of humor and excellent music suggestions.

I am saddened by his early passing and will miss his wisdom and presence in our community."

Dr. Lars Ismer, Postdoc at Materials Department, University of California at Santa Barbara

"It was with deep sadness that I heard about the sudden passing of Audrius. He and I first met in the mid 2000's when he presented his scientific work to the group of Prof. Matthias Scheffler at the Fritz-Haber-Institut in Berlin. Later, in 2011, we became good colleagues and friends when he started his postdoctoral position with Prof. Chris Van de Walle at UCSB. I will always remember him as a great, warm, well laid and friendly person with great empathy and team spirit. My deepest condolences go to his relatives, friends and colleagues.

The photo shows Audrius with Hartwin Peelaers and myself on a very long and arduous hike to the top of Mount Williamson in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California in 2011."

Cyrus Dreyer, Assistant Professor of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Stony Brook University

"I met Audrius when I was a graduate student in Santa Barbara and he was a postdoc. As he was to many people, Audrius was one of the most important scientific mentors to me. He thought so clearly, combining physical insight with a deep understanding of formal theory. This gave him the ability to do things that were truly new and innovative. He was always ready with clear comprehensive answers to the physics questions I constantly nagged him with. I always wanted to emulate his style, and he has played a large part in any of the success that I have had.

Outside of physics, Audrius loved being out in the wilderness, especially the eastern Sierras in California. I think they were a calming force for him. I cherish the time we spent on the trails. He was a passionate and talented musician, composing his own music. And he was a great friend, always kind, welcoming, humorous, and fun to be around no matter the situation.

I feel so privileged for the time I got to spend with Audrius. My thoughts are with his family, many friends, and many collaborators. We will all truly miss him."

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