In memoriam: Rajendran Raja

Rajendran Raja

Rajendran Raja, 65, of Naperville, Ill., passed away peacefully in his home on Feb. 15 surrounded by loved ones. He was born July 14, 1948, in Guruvayur, Kerala, India.

Rajendran obtained his Ph.D. in physics from the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge. He was inducted as a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge in 1973. Rajendran then immigrated to the United States in 1974 and joined Fermilab as a physicist.

As a senior scientist at Fermilab for more than two decades, Rajendran contributed to more than 300 articles in professional journals and led many research projects. Rajendran played a leading role in the design of a hermetic DZero detector, was the head of the top quark analysis group and is credited with developing the multivariate algorithm that led to the top quark discovery.

In the early 1990s Rajendran initiated a collaboration between the Indian institutions and Fermilab on the DZero experiment, one that has since graduated more than 10 Indian Ph.D. students.

Rajendran believed in fundamental measurements, and during the last decade he led an experimental team on the Main Injector Particle Production experiment to acquire unbiased high-statistics data with complete particle identification for hadron interactions, a measurement of importance in untangling the mystery of neutrino interactions.

Rajendran was interested in solving the world’s energy crisis and was a proponent of accelerator-induced thorium reactors, a much-needed energy solution for his birth land India. Rajendran was heavily involved in giving back to the Indo-American community and served on the board of directors of the Indo-American Center.

Rajendran is survived by his beloved wife Selitha (née Freundorfer) Raja, loving daughter Anjali (Aaron) Raja Beharelle and sister Paru Sharma. He was preceded in death by his parents P. K. S. Raja and Chandramathi Nair.

Visitation will be held on Friday, Feb. 21, from 9 a.m. until the time of commemorations. The memorial service begins at 10 a.m. at Beidelman-Kunsch Funeral Homes & Crematory, 24021 Royal Worlington Drive, Naperville, Ill.

The family requests, in lieu of flowers, that donations be made to the University of Chicago Brain Tumor Research Fund. Checks may be made payable to the University of Chicago Brain Tumor Fund and mailed to: University of Chicago Gift and Record Services, Rajendran Raja Memorial, 5235 S. Harper Court, Chicago, IL 60615.

Online donations can also be made. In the pull-down menu for the donation recipient, select “Other” and then select "This gift is in honor or memory of …" In the field that follows, please enter “Rajendran Raja Memorial.”

Shekhar Mishra, APC, and Aaron Beharelle