Campus, News, Obituaries

Archaeology Ph.D. student dies in Turkey, remembered as ‘passionate, full of potential’

Boston University doctoral student Chad DiGregorio was found dead in Turkey Thursday morning.

DiGregorio was a third-year archaeology Ph.D. student. He was working at a site in western Turkey with the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey, a BU research project.

Boston University archaeology professor Curtis Runnels was DiGregorio’s dissertation and academic advisor. Runnels said DiGregorio was a passionate man with a brilliant mind.

“Chad was a rising star, a consummate young scientist on the cusp of a brilliant career,” he said in an email to The Daily Free Press. “He had a first-rate mind, and a passion for archaeology, particularly the early Paleolithic of the Mediterranean world.”

Runnels said he had known DiGregorio since 2008. He said the two worked together for years, and that DiGregorio worked as his editorial assistant at the Journal of Field Archaeology, where Runnels is the editor-in-chief.

Colin Riley, BU spokesman, said DiGregorio apparently died from a fall after slipping near an archaeological site.

“It appears that he had been up on the side of a hill,” Riley said. “It’s steep and rugged terrain, where he was, and it looks like he slipped and fell.”

Runnels said DiGregorio had gone to explore a prehistoric site on his day off.

“He had gone missing because he hadn’t returned when expected for dinner, so they began a search and they were able to figure out where he had gone hiking and maybe exploring for future research opportunities,” Riley said. “[A search party was] able to find where he had been and locate his body.”

Riley said DiGregorio was from Upton, Mass. Runnels said he graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island.

Runnels said DiGregorio anticipated a career in the field, and was a young mind full of potential for scientific discovery.

“His loss is not only a great personal loss for all of his family and loving friends, but is truly a loss for science,” Runnels said. “After 40 years as a professional, Chad was the student who I thought would surpass us all, and contribute more to the knowledge of the world than any of his teachers or mentors.”

Friends and family of DiGregorio mourned the loss on Facebook.

“We will all miss you, Chad. You were a damn fine archaeologist and an even better human being,” posted Allison Cuneo, a fellow archaeology Ph.D. candidate and teaching fellow at BU.

Chad’s sister, Deanna DiGregorio, posted a picture of she and her brother to her wall with a mournful message.

“You have always been my driving force to be better; you’re my hero,” she posted. “I love you so much and I will treasure every moment I got to spend with you, [C]had. I miss you and will everyday. I am going to make you proud.”


  1. first of all ” KILLED ” is a wrong verb also ” POTENTIAL” ..I am one of the strategists of Chad’s search an rescue team AKUT which is a member of INSARAG. First of all we are very sorry for your loss. When he lost his life in our country, he became a brother of ours too. We search the field about 50 rescuers, scout leaders, climbers, gendarms but we could not give you a good news. I can not give more details about the operation but I can say that there was nothing to do.. again we are sorry for your loss.we believe that he is with Allah now.
    RIP Chad.

    Kürşat Utku SATIOĞLU
    [email protected]

  2. Why is BU covering this up? I gues they’ve had a tough PR year, plus they get lots of Turkish students each year paying full tuition.

    The poor student might have uncovered dead bones from the many massacres and genocidal acts committed by the Turks over the past century or so.

    • Kürşat Utku Satıoğlu

      Excuse me, Maybe you are right, but notice that we have a history of 3000 years.. What about you. While your ‘primary law’ has been writing, we were celebrating the 500th establishing year.. 🙂