CS PhD Student Passes Away After Suffering Severe Burns

Saamer Akhshabi, a Georgia Tech Ph.D. student in computer science who was seriously injured Feb. 4 in his Midtown apartment, died March 6 in Grady Hospital.

Akhshabi was a 26-year-old student in the School of Computer Science’s networking research group. A native of Iran, he graduated in 2009 from the University of Tehran with a B.S. in computer engineering. Akhshabi enrolled at Georgia Tech the following fall and studied under Associate Professor Constantine Dovrolis.

"Saamer was a brilliant student and young researcher,” Dovrolis said. “Within the first year at Georgia Tech, he completed a groundbreaking study about the evolution of the Internet architecture, and his research in adaptive video streaming has been cited more than 200 times. Saamer was passionate about cross-disciplinary research, especially combining computer science with biology, and his dream was to help people using his research. His sudden passing is tragic and incomprehensible, but his legacy will stay alive in all of us who worked with him."

"This is a terrible tragedy that has deeply affected everyone in the School of Computer Science,” said Chair Lance Fortnow. “Saamer was an excellent Ph.D. student, not far from graduating, whose influential research has been published at the top venues in computer networking. Saamer represented the best of the School, the College and Georgia Tech, and his loss will always be with us."

“Georgia Tech's College of Computing is grieving the loss of Saamer Akhshabi,” said College of Computing Dean Zvi Galil. “Saamer’s initial prognosis was very bad, but he fought for more than a month. Our faculty and students visited him regularly, often staying for hours at a time. This was an excellent, promising student, and all of us in the College deeply mourn him.”

"On behalf of the entire Georgia Tech community we extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Saamer Akhshabi,” said President G. P. “Bud” Peterson. “Over the past month, faculty, staff and students have expressed their concern in numerous ways, and we mourn the loss of a member of the Georgia Tech family.”

Akhshabi was injured in an explosion inside his apartment and suffered third-degree burns over most of his body. Following his death, the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) issued the following statement.

“We have worked closely with other law enforcement agencies during the investigation of this tragic incident. The FBI has relayed that, to date, they have not developed any information or evidence indicating criminal intent in this investigation,” said GTPD interim Chief Robert Connolly. “As a result of the above, it was determined that Mr. Akshabi was not a threat to the Georgia Tech community. He was an excellent student, and this was an unfortunate situation. We are all saddened by the death of this young man, and our thoughts are with his family."

Akhshabi’s parents were with their son when he died, and the College of Computing has announced a fund raising effort to enable the Akhshabis to take Saamer home to Iran. For more information or to donate to this effort, please send email to hamid.garmestani@mse.gatech.edu.

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