Engineering graduate student passes away

Rouzbeh Rastgarkafshgarkolaei died in an automobile accident Sunday, Dean of Students Allen Groves said in an email to the U.Va. community


Rastgarkafshgarkolaei was originally from Iran and graduated from Auburn University in 2014.

Courtesy Adrienne Kim Bird

Rouzbeh Rastgarkafshgarkolaei, a graduate Engineering student and doctoral candidate, passed away Sunday, according to a community-wide email from Dean of Students Allen Groves sent Monday evening. Rastgarkafshgarkolaei was originally from Iran and graduated from Auburn University in 2014.

Rastgarkafshgarkolaei, 27, died at the scene of an automobile crash after colliding with another vehicle around 4 a.m. Sunday morning while traveling south on Route 29. The other driver sustained minor injuries. The Virginia State Police is investigating the cause of the crash and is considering speed a factor based on witnesses’ statements.

Rastgarkafshgarkolaei had been researching advanced molecular modeling and simulations to investigate thermal management in electronics, and had already published four papers alongside other University students and professors, according to the email. He had also recently been awarded the 2018 Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Distinguished Fellowship and had plans to defend his dissertation in December. 

Groves pointed to Rastgarkafshgarkolaei’s interview from the International Student and Scholar Programs Facebook page, in which he shared his thoughts on the University. Rouzbeh said he attended the University for “a unique and prestigious opportunity you cannot get from many other schools around the globe.”

Rastgarkafshgarkolaei had volunteered for the program’s advisory board to help develop programs that could support international students. Rouzbeh also helped establish the Iranian Students Association at the University in 2017.

Groves’ email included a statement from graduate Engineering student Mehrdad Fazli, the current IRSA president, about Rastgarkafshgarkolaei’s contributions to the club and University. 

“He had a helping, compassionate, generous and caring personality. He has left his footage in all the good memories we have from UVA and Charlottesville,” Fazli said. “His passing is a deep grief for all of us and he will be remembered as a welcoming and loving friend among us."

Rastgarkafshgarkolaei is survived by his parents in Iran — Khosro Rastgarkafshgarkolaei and Monir Silakhori — other family members and his friends and peers at the University.

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