When I first came to Duke and the computational mechanics lab, I had a year of being somewhat of an “only child” to my advisor. Hearing that there was another student coming on, I was ready to be defensive and selfish, especially because it was someone clearly more advanced than I was. It turned out to be this totally disarming, funny and nice guy named Abhijit. He was so bright, which was at first intimidating, but then still willing to commiserate with you about difficult classes or confusing research questions. He was unafraid to complement his peers, and thus melted my own insecurities.
We would both sometimes keep evening hours in the lab, and if he ever left before I did in an evening, he would peek in my office to smile and say goodbye. It was so refreshing and comforting. He laughed all the time –every time I had any conversation with him I must have heard him laugh. He made terrific desserts. He showed up to things like Quebec Cinema Week. He was capable of growing this terrifically impressive mustache, and then looked even better when he shaved it. His company was delightful. I regret that I didn’t realize sooner what a tremendous academic sibling he was, and take advantage of every moment to enjoy his company more. His absence will be a hole for a very long time in this lab, this department, and this university.