The UC Berkeley physics department received $35,000 from an anonymous donor to create the Sushant Singh Rajput Memorial Fund in Physics.
The fund’s namesake, Sushant Singh Rajput, was a celebrated Indian actor before his untimely passing in June 2020 at the age of 34. Rajput was a National Physics Olympiad winner and, according to campus physics department spokesperson Rachel Schafer, he was passionate about astrophysics as well.
UC Berkeley has the top astrophysics graduate program in the country, according to the National Research Council. Schafer said although Rajput did not have a direct connection to UC Berkeley, the two shared a love of this discipline. As a result, the fund is intended to support campus graduate students studying astrophysics.
“It’s going to be for one student per year and, maybe, for five years,” Schafer said. “It can be for a different student the next year, but the goal is to support one student each year for five years.”
Schafer said the fund is intended to partially cover expenses for the recipient. She also noted that while she has received many messages from students studying in India regarding the fund, the recipient must meet the preferences of the donor — namely, they must be a campus graduate student studying astrophysics.
Rajput’s family announced the creation of the fund on social media in honor of the late actor’s birthday using the hashtag #SushantDay. Schafer noted that after the post was made, she received an outpouring of requests to contribute to this fund.
“After the fund was announced by the family a couple of days ago, we’ve received a lot of requests from people who want to donate,” Schafer said. “The donation link is being set up right now. I think it should be set up within seven days.”