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Anya Pogosyants G

Anya Pogosyants G, 26, and her husband Igor Slobodkin, 28, were killed on Dec. 15 in an automobile accident. An undergraduate research award has since been established in her name.

The couple died in a head-on crash in Rutland, Vermont, on their way to Lake Placid, New York, to go skiing.

"Those of use who knew Anya will miss her greatly. She was a kind and enthusiastic person," said John V. Guttag, associate department head in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, where Pogosyants studied. "When she entered a room, it made the room a nicer place to be."

Slobodkin hit a slippery spot on snowy Route 7 near the Rutland-Pittsford town line just past midnight, careened across the center line into the southbound traffic lane and struck a one-ton fuel van, according to Vermont State Police in an article in The Boston Globe.

The two were pronounced dead at the Rutland Regional Medical Center.

Pogosyants worked in the Laboratory for Computer Science on the theory of distributed systems. Her work included research in formal verification of distributed algorithms and developing easy-to-use verification tools.

Slobodkin was a fifth-year doctoral student in Tufts University's Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences, where he studied the biological control of infectious yeasts.

A memorial service for Pogosyants and Slobodkin was held on Dec. 19 at Waterman and Sons Funeral Home in Kenmore Square.

"Anya was not only a brilliant researcher. Above all, she was a very kind, friendly, warm person. She was always cheerful and ready to help and encourage everybody," said Angelika Leeb G, a friend and colleague. "She and Igor both had many friends and were much-loved in and outside of their research community."

Anya was "a genuinely sweet person. You felt she truly cared about you," said Mark A. S. Smith G, who worked in the same research group as Pogosyants.

"She was also very shy. Anya was always downplaying her ability, but she was very good at what she did," he said.

"With Anya, one never had to fear that an evening would be boring. She laughed a lot, and she was very easy-going and open-minded," Leeb said.

Pogosyants and Slobodkin met through their parents in Moscow, where the two were were raised and attended college, and were married by the time they came to Boston in 1990 to pursue graduate studies.

Pogosyants' hobbies included playing guitar and singing folk songs. Slobodkin enjoyed mountain climbing and poetry writing.

"All relatives and friends of Igor and Anya will remember them as two wonderful people full of ideas, joy and optimism," Leeb said.

UROP award established

Several of Pogosyants' friends have established an award in her honor for the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

Each semester beginning this spring, an undergraduate student doing a UROP in LCS or the Artificial Intelligence Lab who has already carried out at least one previous UROP project, will be designated as the Anya Pogosyants UROP Student, said Joanne M. Talbot, senior secretary for LCS.

The student will receive an award of $500, in addition to any regular salary. No student will be allowed to hold the position for more than one semester.

"The basis of selection will be letters of recommendation describing the accomplishments of the previous UROP project. The area of research is not constrained - selection will be based on quality of work," Talbot said.

The award will be funded by contributions from Pogosyants' friends and colleagues. Anyone interested in contributing to the award endowment may contact Talbot at joanne@theory.lcs.mit.edu.

A memorial fund in the couple's memory also has been set up to buy medical equipment to help other people in Moscow.

Pogosyants leaves her parents, Bella and Gregory Pogosyants of San Francisco, and her grandparents, Michail and Helena Pogosyants and Chaia Likach of Moscow.

Slobodkin leaves his parents, Wolf Slobodkin and Natasha Tomilina of Moscow, and his grandparents, Mark and Tsilla Slobodkin of Brighton.