Sidharth Ramakrishnan ’19

10 October 2016
Sidharth (Sid) Ramakrishnan ’19
Sidharth (Sid) Ramakrishnan ’19

Sidharth (Sid) Ramakrishnan ’19 died on September 21, 2016 at Carleton. Sid was intending to major in physics or chemistry with a dream of curing mental illnesses. He was known to his friends and faculty as brilliant, thoughtful, passionate, caring, and complex.  

Sid was born in Connecticut in 1997. After attending elementary school in Bethel, CT, he moved to Boxborough, MA, skipped sixth grade, and graduated from Acton-Boxborough high school in 2014 as a National Merit Scholar. He avidly listened to classical music and enjoyed Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, Mozart and Beethoven. He played clarinet in the Massachusetts Youth Symphony Project and was also a member of the Carleton College Orchestra.

His research interests included error analysis of measurements used in health diagnosis, brain chemistry, and bipolar disorder, and, most recently, statistical analysis to infer probability of cardiac arrest in women. Sidharth’s strong love of reading, particularly Wikipedia, led him to prefer self-study to classroom learning; his laptop was his favorite accessory. He was a strong proponent of open-source and knowledge-sharing; LaTeX, Emacs and its myriad modes, R, and Python were his preferred programs. Sidharth reveled in the simplicity and beauty of nature; he enjoyed spending time with animals and conquering difficult hikes. Other hobbies included Go, Chess, and table tennis. He was also compassionate towards the less-fortunate, and wanted to alleviate suffering.

A large community gathering was held on September 21st at the Chapel, and Sid’s family held a memorial service in Massachusetts on October 1st.

Students who lost their lives while enrolled at Carleton are commemorated in the Carleton Student Memorial.

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  • 2016-10-12 16:00:19
    note left in the Chapel

    This note was left in the Chapel on the memorial table for Sid:

    On a cold winter night my freshman year, I got to know Sid Ramakrishnan.  I was in the 3rd Goodhue kitchen late at night when Sid sauntered in.  He was quiet, but he sat down and we began to chat.  What started with various pleasantries soon gave way to a 3 hour conversation about Sid's passion for chemistry and his views on the world.  I quickly realized that I was in the presence of a genius--even by Carleton standards.  Sid was so complex; he knew that I might not understand anything about quantum chemistry, but he was content to let me into his world, if only for a few hours.  I wish I could tell him how much that exchange meant to me.  I'll remember it forever.

  • 2016-10-13 03:16:12

    Sid cared, he really did.

    He was a good friend and there for me during my darkest times.

    There's one more scar in my heart that will always ache for him.

  • 2016-10-13 07:39:46
    Deborah Gross

    I believe that Sid was a truly ideal Carleton student: incredibly smart, a true individual, and one who was committed to following his passions.  His intellectual rigor eagerness to explore new ideas was inspiring and exciting.  There is a hole in the College where Sid was, and we will miss him.

  • 2016-10-17 11:18:04
    Dave Alberg

    Sid was my organic chemistry student last year and he made an immediate impression.  Early on, he mentioned to me that he had already read a leading organic chemistry textbook before enrolling in my course.  He did that not to get a jump on the material to assure a good grade in the course, but simply out of unquenchable interest.  The insightful and sophisticated questions he would ask in class – usually far ahead of where we were in the syllabus – made it clear that Sid understood what he read.  Sid pursued his interests with a laser-like focus and passion, often to the neglect of the more routine work required in the course, and sometimes to the detriment of his grades.  I am reminded of the late Nobel Prize winning organic chemist, R. B. Woodward, who famously enrolled at MIT at the age of 16, having already mastered, on his own, undergraduate organic chemistry.  However, early in his sophomore year he was asked to leave MIT for neglecting classes, particularly subjects other than chemistry, in favor of working in the chemistry lab.  In the end, strings were pulled, he completed his degree, and he went on to make enormous contributions in science.

    Tragically, we will never know what else Sid might have contributed to our lives.  We miss you Sid.