It is with great sorrow that I report the tragic loss of one of our PhD students in civil and environmental engineering, Abhijit Mahato. Abhijit was a second year PhD student, and was working on computational contact mechanics work under the direction of Professor Tod Laursen. Duke issued a statement earlier today: http://news.duke.edu/2008/01/shooting.html
Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Abhijit and we encourage our faculty, staff, and students to offer support to each other at this difficult time. Abhijit had many good friends in the Pratt and broader Duke communities, and we know that his loss will profoundly affect many. The local authorities are currently doing everything possible to determine the culprit of this hideous crime. However, a human life is irreplaceable, and I have struggled personally with my concern for the family back in India. I cannot imagine the pain that Abhijit's parents feel at this point, and I can only imagine that the distance separating them from their son and the unknown concerning the circumstance only amplifies their grief. Abhijit will be greatly missed in the the "family" of our Pratt School of Engineering, and we are holding memorial services here for those grieving for the loss of this talented young man.
We will update you soon with plans for a memorial service and any other events planned in memory of Abhijit.
Robert L. Clark
Thomas Lord Professor and Dean