Alex Weiss promised his close friend and colleague, late Nail Fazleev, there was only gentle rain in London, England, unlike the downpours in Texas. Just as the two stopped during their stroll to look at Big Ben from Parliament Bridge, the rain came down strong.
“We almost got blown off the bridge,” Weiss said about a trip for a conference they took together about three years ago.
Weiss, physics department chairman, knew Fazleev, physics associate professor, for more than 20 years and worked closely with him on research, grants and programs.
Fazleev, 65, suffered a massive stroke Monday and died Wednesday morning at Arlington Memorial Hospital with his wife, Rezeda Fazleev, by his side.
Physics doctoral student Kunal Tiwari helped Fazleev’s wife open Fazleev’s locked office in the Chemistry and Physics Building. They found Fazleev lying on the floor unconscious and called 911.
“I don’t even want to remember the last moment I saw him. It was not good at all,” Tiwari said. “I’m going to miss him. The office I work in is next to his, and I will see his name board every day.”
Tiwari saw Fazleev that Monday morning, and said the professor talked with him and looked fine.
Weiss and Fazleev worked together on several publications and wrote in the same room. They would have loud and animated discussions, and Fazleev made the work fun, Weiss said.
“I valued his positive attitude and enthusiasm the most for the science we were working on together because sometimes we got discouraged,” Weiss said. “When we worked together he always had a very positive attitude about proposals—which aren’t always known to be successful. He kept us on track and always tried to get things right.”
Fazleev contributed a countless amount to the physics department, Weiss said, by teaching, taking part in several grants, committees and conferences. Weiss credits Fazleev for bringing the number of graduates in the physics department up by a quarter.
Fazleev lead the grant proposal committee that received the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need from the Department of Education. The physics department received the research grant twice, which provides fellowships for graduate students and meets full costs for UTA including living expenses.
“He and I shared a hotel room in Pittsburg at a conference,” Weiss said. “It was very cold. He stayed up all night and finished the [Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need] proposal due the next day.”
Fazleev brought millions of dollars from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education to support graduate students and research at UTA.
Fazleev was hardworking, intelligent and internationally known in the United States and Russia for his contributions in positron interactions with surfaces and magnetic properties of materials, Weiss said. Fazleev had broad interests, like physics, art, music, sports and the outdoors. Fazleev professionally played the piano and violin. He swam often and enjoyed mountain climbing. Weiss smiled when he talked about times Fazleev sang.
Colleagues and students remember Fazleev constantly smiling and being upbeat and enthusiastic, Weiss said.
“We will really miss him,” said Bethany Harris, physics department office assistant. “He would come into the office and ask ‘How are my girls?’ with a smile.”
Fazleev was one of a few who taught the most advanced theoretical graduate courses at UTA, Weiss said.
Next semester, the department might struggle to offer the same classes, he said.
Fazleev was a main member of the Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics Group that physics professor Ali Koymen said will be lacking now without Fazleev.
Physics graduate Prasad Joglekar has known Fazleev for four years and had Fazleev on his dissertation committee.
“He made me think of the theory part of my experiments,” Joglekar said “Because of him, I’m more focused experimentally. With his inputs, I could have a wholesome view of my research.”
Joglekar was in the emergency room with Fazleev.
“My first reaction was I could not believe that, and thought he would recover,” Joglekar said. “It was very hard to believe.”
Fazleev enjoyed mentoring undergraduates for graduate-level studies as much as working with graduate students, Weiss said.
Fazleev grew up in Russia and received a doctoral degree from Kazan State University in Russia in 1981 and a master’s degree in 1971. Fazleev still had collaborations in Russia while he was at UTA, Weiss said.
Fazleev has been a faculty member since 2004, but involved with UTA since 1992 as a visiting professor, associate professor and National Research Council Fellow and Senior Fulbright Fellow. Fazleev wrote two books and more than 100 publications and spoke at 80 international conferences, universities and national labs. He is survived by a son, Kamil, in Russia, and his wife in Texas.
A visitation for family and friends was held Oct. 10 at Moore Memorial Gardens. The funeral will be at 3 p.m. Oct. 11 at Moore Memorial Gardens. A reception and memorial will follow at University Club in Davis Hall, said Greg Pederson, College of Science communications specialist, in an email to the College of Science community and in a College of Science Facebook post.
“The department is very sad to lose a highly upheld member who contributed a great amount to the department and field of condensed matter,” Weiss said. “We’re grateful for over 20 years we had the benefit of having him involved with UTA. He benefited education of several generations of both graduate and undergraduate students. He was a dedicated teacher.”
Students said Fazleev made them feel like he was dedicated to helping them learn.
“No one is ever going to replace him,” Tiwari said.