Family, former professors recall Lomakin’s zeal
By Sarah Koulogeorge
Published on Thursday, October 11, 2012
Mikhail “Mike” Lomakin, a first-year physics graduate student at Dartmouth who died on Oct. 6 in Hartford, Vt., at the scene of a car accident, is remembered by his peers as a bright and passionate student. To friends and family, however, he was more than an engaged lover of math and science.
Lomakin, who was 24 years old and immigrated to the United States from Russia, was close to and enjoyed spending time with his family, cousin Alexei Lomakin, Jr. said.
“He loved spending time with his mom and grandfather, and he always went to church with his mother,” he said. “He was very close to my daughter. She is 16 and the closest in age to Mike. She looked up to Mike very much.”
Fueled by curiosity, Lomakin often went bird-watching with his family and marveled at the birds’ colors and habits, Alexei Lomakin, Jr. said.
Alexei Lomakin, Jr. said he fondly remembers roasting marshmallows with his daughter and late cousin around a campfire on one of the camping trips that Mike Lomakin enjoyed. He also recalls Mike Lomakin’s first steps and said he is proud to have been the first person to see his cousin walk.
Mike Lomakin was most exuberant when talking about physics, according to uncle Alexei Lomakin, Sr.
“He passed away so happy and excited,” he said. “He was living the happiest part of his life when he died.”
Mike Lomakin was characterized by his passion and led a life full of enthusiasm, according to Genevieve Hammond, his senior English teacher at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in Acton, Mass.
“It’s been five years since I had Mike in class, but this morning, his counselor and I were remembering his passion for meteorology,” Hammond said. “It’s always fun for a teacher to meet the idiosyncratic student, the one who is going to bring a fresh perspective to the class conversation.”
His passion for meteorology continued beyond high school, according to University of Massachusetts-Lowell meteorology professor Frank Colby.
“There was a proof in my class that no one could answer,” Colby said. “I had offered it as extra credit in my class for many previous terms, and nobody had even attempted to solve it. Mike was the first one. That was the kind of kid he was.”
Lomakin graduated from UMass-Lowell in May 2012 and won the Chancellor’s Medal for Academic Achievement upon graduation.
UMass-Lowell environmental, earth and atmospheric sciences professor Bob Gamache, who served as Lomakin’s advisor, professor and research mentor, said he appreciated his advisee’s energy.
“He was really a great kid,” Gamache said. “He was fun, just fun to be around, and I wasn’t the only one to feel his energy. He changed the complexion of the class.”
Gamache said he will always remember Lomakin’s excitement when working on difficult problems.
“His eyes would be beaming and his face would light up with energy,” Gamache said. “It was like he was a kid in a toy store. His enthusiasm was spectacular.”
Although he was the smartest student in his class, Lomakin was always willing to help his fellow classmates in a supportive manner, Gamache said.
“He used to try to stump me in class, which I always enjoyed and thought was great,” Gamache said. “This used to encourage the other students to ask questions.”
Alexei Lomakin, Sr. said he was overwhelmed by the number of well-wishers at this week’s funeral service. Lomakin made his family very proud, particularly through his work in physics and will be missed by friends, family and everyone who knew him, Alexei Lomakin, Sr. said.
Friends and relatives held a candlelight vigil in front of Wilder Hall on Monday in his memory.
Police were called to mile marker 73 on I-91 south at 2:24 a.m. on Oct. 6, where they discovered Lomakin’s body lying in the far right lane. Police believe that three different vehicles hit Lomakin, although only the second two motorists have given accounts of the night’s events. Both drivers initially mistook the man’s body for a dead animal, and they were unable to slow down in time to avoid colliding with the body.
The Vermont State Police are investigating Lomakin’s death.