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Graduate student Allison Tovo-Dwyer passes away

Third-year Department of Chemistry graduate student Allison Tovo-Dwyer passed away last Thursday, after a yearlong battle with cancer. She was 25 years old.

While at MIT, Tovo-Dwyer worked under the supervision of Professor Arup K. Chakraborty. Her research, in collaboration with clinicians, focused on using statistical physics to understand the human immune response to HIV infections and on harnessing this information to help design a potent vaccine.

“Allison was a brilliant woman who would have developed into a great scientist,” Chakraborty said. “Her first publication was accepted into a top journal just a week before she passed away. I wasn’t able to tell her in person due to her hospitalization, but her mom told me the news bought a smile to her face. My research group and I will miss her very much.”

Tovo-Dwyer hailed from Minnesota and completed her undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of Chicago. A private memorial service in Chicago will take this Saturday, Oct. 20. Expressions of condolence can be brought to Department of Chemistry Graduate Administrator Jennifer Weisman in Room 2-204 by the end of the day Monday, and will be delivered to the family.

“Allison consistently exhibited kindness and warmth to those around her,” said Christine Ortiz, dean of graduate education in an email to the Department of Chemistry. “Our deepest sympathies are with Allison’s family, friends, and the faculty and staff who knew her.”

Members of the MIT community who feel affected by the death are encouraged to contact MIT Mental Health Services at 617-253-2916. The Office of the Dean of Graduate Education can also be reached at 617-253-4860.

—Deborah Chen