Zornitza Bakalova passed away unexpectedly on July 24, 2022

In 2006, Zornitza came to UT as a PhD researcher. She was hired by former Computer Science school’s director Roel Wieringa, to work on a large NWO project. On her first day of work, Zornitza received a call with a cancer diagnosis. Fighting it promptly and keeping it in remission later on, she found her PhD research at UT as an important source of inspiration next to her family. She considered it as “something reinforcing my will to live” and also encouraging her to start and finish new personal hobby-projects outside UT and with her children. While at UT, Zornitza worked very closely with her daily supervisor, Maya Daneva, and her colleague Klaas Sikkel. She was instrumental in initiating the research line of exploratory case studies in empirical software engineering; her publications became a prominent part of the Design Science Research paradigm championed by Roel Wieringa’s research group. She successfully defended her thesis on business value and requirements in agile projects, in 2014. Next to her PhD research, she supervised master student in the Advanced Requirements Engineering course and served as a teaching assistant in the courses of E-Commerce and Requirements Engineering. Her daily supervisor, Maya Daneva, describes her as “a very dedicated and kind colleague who easily makes friends and is known for her high work ethic and strong sense of responsibility. As a loving mother, her children remained her highest priority, and she allowed herself to enjoy conference travel only when it did not interfere with her family duties. As I was in a similar stage in my life, both Zornitza and I were so appreciative to Klaas who has always been more than happy to represent our authors’ team in our most important venues”.

We are deeply sad by her unexpected passing after a difficult time of health complications.

We wish her family a lot of strength in coping with this great loss.