UCSB faculty and staff, graduate students and family members of the late graduate student Jarrod Davidson came together Tuesday to remember and honor his life.
Dean of Mathematical, Life and Physical sciences Martin Moskovit presented a posthumous master’s degree to Davidson’s parents, Richard and Susan, who attended the gathering. The Davidsons have set up a scholarship fund in their son’s honor, and members of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Dept. have also set up a college scholarship fund for Davidson’s four-year-old daughter, Malia. A palm tree located in the building where Davidson worked was also dedicated to the former graduate student. Students who worked with Davidson under organic chemistry professor Tom Pettus gave Malia a booklet of letters they had written about how much they had appreciated and loved her father.
“We wrote what we [thought] of him,” said Jinsong Zhange, a post-doctoral student. “All the good memories came back.”
Davidson was fatally shot at close range in July 2004 at the front door of his home. Police arrested his former mother-in-law, 49-year-old Melinda Jones, in early January in connection with the murder.
Maurice Marsini, a graduate student who works in the Pettus lab, said he and his peers were shocked when they learned of Jones’ arrest.
“We waited to hear something [about an arrest] for six months,” Marsini said. “[His parents] can stop being devastated and start to have closure.”
Davidson’s peers can also come to terms with the tragedy, graduate student Chris Lindsay said, because they too felt a great loss.
“[There’s] a really good family dynamic here,” Lindsay said. “We work hard together, we play hard together.”
Zhange said she would remember how happy Davidson was and how much he smiled. She said his impressive work ethic was complemented by how dedicated a father he was.
“He had a picture [of his daughter] beside his desk,” she said. “She was the driving force for him to work so hard.”
Christine Simms, office manager of the Chemistry & Biochemistry Dept., said Deedrea Edgar, manager Student Affairs & External Relations, organized a scholarship fund for Malia and will be accepting donations.
According to the Chemistry & Biochemistry Dept. Web site, the Jarrod Davidson Memorial Scholarship is accepting donations, and the award will be given to chemistry graduate students who face the challenge of researching full time as well as raising a family.