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Satyabrata Nandi

1931 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Satyabrata Nandi Obituary
Satyabrata Nandi

Professor Satyabrata Nandi passed away peacefully in his home in Berkeley July 29th, 2017. He was 86 years old. Ranu, as he was called by his friends and family, was the beloved patriarch of our family. He was born on December 1st, 1931, to Kunjubihari and Jyotirmyoee Nandi, in Silet, India. He was the fourth of 9 siblings, 7 sons and 2 daughters.

As a youth he moved to Kolkata, India to begin his studies in biology and zoology. His family later joined him after losing their home fleeing what became East Pakistan (and later Bangladesh) as refugees during the Indian partition in 1947. After finishing his Master's degree, he wrote letters of introduction to Universities around the world to pursue doctorate work. By good fortune one of those letters reached Professor Howard Bern in the Department of Zoology at the University of California at Berkeley. While his intellect was well respected, department officials were worried about who would pay for his return trip to India if he was not a good fit for the department. Professor Bern promised to pay for his return ticket if the Department would accept him into the program; a life changing decision for Ranu and the rest of this family.

After a 3 month journey by sea, he landed in San Francisco and began his doctorate studies in Berkeley in 1954. He finished his PhD in 3 years then stayed on for his post-doctorate and was ultimately hired as a professor at UC Berkeley. It is rare to be hired at the same institution where one does their academic training but Ranu's talent for research and teaching endeared him to the staff and as his highly successful 40 year career at UC Berkeley proves, was a wise investment. Though always humble, he made great contributions to further breast cancer research and was once hailed by the Indian Ambassador to the US as one of the most outstanding Indian American scientists in the US.

During his graduate studies, he met Jean Brandt-Erichsen, a brilliant young woman who was an undergraduate also studying biology. He was new to the country and despite not having many models for interracial/intercultural marriage at the time, their love blossomed and they married in 1957 in Solvang, CA.

Ranu later sponsored two brothers, Ashis and Arabinda Nandi, both physicians, and their wives, Aparna and Pranati. The 3 families lived within a few miles of each other and enjoyed lively weekly dinners together for over 30 years with their children, Rhea, Rini and Amitava. He also helped settle a cousin, Tarit Sen Gupta, an engineer, and his wife Kabita. They eventually settled in the Los Angeles area with their son Joy.

Ranu was a disciplined researcher and teacher, a compassionate mentor, and a loving, generous husband, son, brother, uncle and grand uncle. He worked tirelessly in his lab and provided opportunities for countless scientists from around the world. He loved Berkeley and America and was forever grateful for the chance the university, and especially his mentor and close friend Professor Howard Bern, took on a young East Indian student from across the sea. His life of service to science, education, and family is encapsulated in the following quote by the famous Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore: " I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy."

He is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Dr. Jean Nandi and his adoring extended family, who miss him greatly and will forever be inspired by his devotion to joyous service.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Sept. 29, 2017
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