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Graduate student dies in accident

George P. (Gera) Panteleyev, a graduate student in the MIT-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Oceanography and Oceanographic Engineering, was lost overboard June 8 during a research cruise aboard a Russian vessel on the Ob River in Siberia and is presumed dead.

Details of the accident were sketchy and unclear, according to an announcement from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). According to information from Russia, the accident occurred in the early morning hours, a few days after the start of the cruise. The ship searched for Mr. Panteleyev for about five hours. A preliminary investigation was conducted by local officials in the remote region.

Mr. Panteleyev was serving as chief scientist on the cruise, which was collecting data to assess radioactive contamination in the Ob River system, which empties into the Arctic Ocean.

A similar cruise was conducted by Mr. Panteleyev and Stephen Smith of WHOI's Marine Department of Chemistry and Geochemistry, with Russian collaborators, in the summer of 1994.

Mr. Smith and graduate student Wendy Woods of the University of Rhode Island were the only other American scientists aboard the vessel, which continued the cruise, originally scheduled to end in Tobol'sk further up the river on June 24. Russian scientists also were participating in the project, which is funded by the US Office of Naval Research.

Co-principal investigators for the project are Fred Sayles and Hugh Livingston, both of WHOI's Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department. They also were serving as co-advisors on Mr. Panteleyev's master's thesis.

Born in Moscow in 1966, Mr. Panteleyev entered the MIT-WHOI Joint Graduate Program in June 1991. He and his wife, third-year Joint Program student Natalia (Natasha) Beliakova, lived in Westgate. She has returned to Russia.

Robert Edson, program manager for the project with the US Office of Naval Research, said that those who had the opportunity to work with Mr. Panteleyev "knew him to be a bright, energetic scientist of the first order, an individual excited about life and the opportunities that lay ahead. He will be missed."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 21, 1995.

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