Duke Establishes Fellowship in Memory of Slain Graduate Student Abhijit Mahato

DURHAM, N.C. -- In a meeting in Cary Saturday with leaders of the local Indian community, Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead announced the school has established a fellowship in memory of slain Duke graduate student Abhijit Mahato.

The Abhijit Mahato Memorial Fellowship will provide financial support to a Duke international graduate student who is studying engineering, with preference given to a student from Mahato’s native country of India.

In a letter to Mahato’s parents, Brodhead noted that the university’s trustees had approved the establishment of a memorial and expressed his sorrow over their son’s death.

“I attended the memorial services where your son’s professors and his many friends described him with glowing admiration,” Brodhead wrote in the letter. “We continue to mourn his loss but are glad that he will be remembered at Duke in this enduring way.”

Brodhead also met privately on Friday afternoon with several of Mahato’s friends from Duke.

“We as Indian Americans are moved by the establishment of the Abhijit Mahato Memorial Fellowship, which will enable international graduate students to continue their education in engineering at Duke,” said Swadesh Chatterjee, a leader in the Indian-American community in the United States. “As we, as a community, mourn the loss of this brilliant young man, we continue to seek to sustain strength through our grief. We commend Duke’s bold initiative and feel that Abhijit’s hard work and diligence at Duke -- so tragically cut short -– will live on through the fellowship and the many international students it will benefit.”

Mahato, originally from Tatanagar, India, was found dead in his off-campus apartment on Jan. 18. Two men have since been charged with murder in connection with his death.

The second-year graduate student, 29, had been studying for an engineering doctorate degree focused on computational mechanics.

Before coming to Duke, Mahato worked on finite element analysis for GE Global Research Center in Bangalore, India. He earned his mechanical engineering degree from Jadavpur University and a master of technology degree from the Indian Institute for Technology in Kanpur.

A memorial website about Mahato has been established at http://abhijit.mahato.pratt.duke.edu/.