Architecture graduate student Kaitlin Goldstein dies in India

Goldstein passionate about improving energy efficiency

Kaitlin R. Goldstein was an academic standout. Studying architecture and engineering, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s from the University of Texas at Austin before pursuing a doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was part of a team that twice won a White House competition on energy efficiency research.

“It’s fair to say that she knew more about practical energy efficiency programs nationally than anyone else in our group,” said one of her professors, Les Norford, associate head of MIT’s architecture department.

But Goldstein was never one to revel in her success.

“Helping others motivated her more than academic fame,” Norford said.

Goldstein, a 28-year-old native of Providence, was found dead in northern India on June 21, one week after officials believe she slipped while on a morning run on a remote mountain trail and fell several hundred feet down a cliff. She was in India to participate in a weeklong workshop on energy and development organized by the MIT-affiliated Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, campus officials said.

Campus officials said that she planned to stay in India to install solar panels for an off-grid electrical installation at a Buddhist monastery.

“She was just discovering opportunities to work in developing countries and saw such activities as a possible career path,” Norford said.

An energy fellow at the MIT Energy Initiative and a fellow of the Martin Family Society for Sustainability, Goldstein was a member of the Energy Education Task Force and active in the Campus Energy Task Force, he said.

“Kate was very dedicated to reducing energy use in buildings and to clean energy sources,” Norford said.

“I am most gratified by the process of bringing together people of diverse backgrounds and skill sets, fostering truly interdisciplinary and integrated design,” Goldstein wrote in a description of herself on the initiative’s website.

She was also a member of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association.

Travis Niles, manager of communications and information technology, posted a farewell on the association’s website. “I speak for all of us at NESEA when I say that we’re stunned and deeply saddened by Kate’s death,” he wrote.

Niles included a statement from Kurt Teichert, a lecturer at Brown University, who knew Goldstein.

“When I first met Kate, she was waiting outside my Brown office as I arrived early in the morning,” Teichert wrote. “She was still in her running gear and had a dog at her side, as she often did any time I saw her outside of the classroom. She was full of ideas and questions about her growing interest in renewable energy, and she sought me out for guidance. Her impact on her classmates and me was immediate.”

The morning Goldstein went missing on June 14, fellow students and instructors at the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh campus where she was staying began to search for her.

Local police joined the search that afternoon, before the Intelligence Bureau of India, the US Embassy in New Delhi, the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the US State Department, the FBI, and others became involved, officials said.

MIT said it retained a private, Mumbai-based security firm to help investigate.

Her parents, who traveled to India to assist with the search, told MIT that her body was found in a ravine below the trail. Authorities believe that Dr. Goldstein, a competitive runner, slipped on a loose rock.

Before her body was found, her brother Adam Goldstein told WPRI-TV in Providence that she was “really passionate about helping poorer places out.”