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Malathi Veeraraghavan

Dr. Malathi Veeraraghavan, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Virginia, passed away on Monday, May 11th, 2020. Her husband, many friends, and the IEEE ComSoc community at large mourn the loss.

Malathi had an amazing work ethic, and she kept on working until the very end. A highly accomplished researcher, Malathi earned her BTech from the world-renowned IIT Madras in 1984. She was one of only four women in her EE class. She came to the US and earned her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Duke University in 1985 and 1988, respectively. She then joined Bell Laboratories, where she worked for 10 years, starting as Member of Technical Staff and quickly rising to become a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff. In 1999, she joined the faculty at Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, New York, as Associate Professor. There she won the Jacobs award for excellence in education in 2002. That year, she joined the ECE department at UVA as an Associate Professor of ECE, and was promoted to Professor in 2007. From 2003 to 2006, she served as Director of the Computer Engineering program, where she led the creation of the Computer Engineering graduate program at UVA.

She won over $17 million dollars in competitive research funding that she brought to UVA, graduated 13 PhD students and 16 Master's students, and mentored six postdoctoral associates and research scientists/engineers. She co-authored 30 patents and over 200 refereed research publications in journals, conferences and workshops, and received six best paper awards, including one last year. Earlier this year, Malathi was elevated to IEEE Fellow, "for contributions to control-plane architectures, signal protocols and hybrid networks".

Malathi lived her life with an incredible and constructive spirit, and never shied away from any challenge. She faced difficulties head on, with an inner strength and conviction that were simply humbling. She was fearless. She also was an out-of-the-box thinker and one of the toughest and simultaneously kindest people one could ever encounter. In recent years she participated in the NICT/NSF JUNO initiative that facilitated both technical and social interactions between scientists in Japan and the USA. She helped form strong and lasting ties between the two communities with her frequent visits to Japan, always accompanied by her beloved husband, Shri. During those visits Malathi served as Visiting Professor at Keio University and contributed to HPSR and iPOP conferences, both held in Japan. She is especially remembered for her hiking trips to Mt. Takao and visits to onsen natural hot springs and her favorite Japanese restaurant, the Rotating Sushi Bar, where she exclusively enjoyed vegetarian cucumber sushi. She enjoyed traveling the world with her husband and had visited more than 150 countries. We will miss her delightful companionship and warm friendship.

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Xiao Lin | 17 May 2020
I was a visiting PhD student in Prof. Malathi Veeraraghavan's group. Malathi was not only a highly accomplished professor, but also a great mentor to me. I had the honor to know her and had the greatest respect for her. She was one of the toughest and kindest people I have met in my life. I model myself after her. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be her student even for those few and short years. She was one of those rare individuals who believed me had a talent for academic, built up my confidence and encouraged me to pursue my dreams.

I will miss her a lot. My life is incomplete without Malathi. May her soul rest in peace.

Xiao Rui Wang | 21 May 2020
Professor V will always be in my heart. She played an irreplaceable role in my college experience by encouraging me to make the most of my time as an undergraduate computer engineering student (for instance, when I told her how much I love biology, she connected me with a smart health-focused research group at my school!). Her kindness and eagerness to help mean a lot to me, and I will definitely miss her (as will all of UVA Engineering). I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to her family.

Kumud Altmayer | 21 May 2020
This is sad. I knew her and liked the way she spoke in the seminars. She was so energetic. I am reading she had four female students while studying in India. No surprise there. I was only one in my class over there, extremely tough. It's excellent here for us as females. We made it. Let her soul rest in peace.

Curtis Siller | 22 May 2020
I am deeply saddened to learn of Malathi's death. I worked with her at Bell Labs and followed her career at UVA. We shared occasional e-mail messages. She was a talented and lovely person. I am heart-broken!

Scott Midkiff | 26 May 2020
I am greatly saddened to hear of Malathi's passing. We overlapped as graduate students at Duke, both have served on the Duke ECE advisory board, and both shared Virginia as our home for many years (although at different institutions). MV was an outstanding researcher, excellent engineering educator, and a wonderful human being. She will be sorely missed.

Manoj BS | 4 June 2020
During my post graduate studies, one of the papers that I had chosen for seminar was co-authored by Prof. Malathi Veeraraghavan. She made many research papers that I had read during my studies. Hope and pray for her soul. Deep condolences to her family.

Dan Pitt | 19 August 2020
One more thing: I tried so hard to hire Malathi when I was at Bay Networks. We needed a chief scientist (and never got one). Malathi would not leave academia. She would have been perfect.