Julia K. Booms '91-'92, a former Dunster House resident, died last Saturday of encephalitis in Seattle, Washington. She was 24.
Booms graduated summa cum laude in biological anthropology last spring, was also graduated Phi Beta Kappa.
"She was by far one of the brightest students ever at Harvard... ever," said Dan Lieberman, a former Dunster House tutor. "What's more important is that she was a warm, generous, down-to-earth, modest, courageous person."
Booms exhibited a wide variety of interests and abilities, friends said. She focused her studies on the biology of cognition and the evolution of neural structures. She was involved in house activities, intramurals and also took an academic interest in women's studies.
Cynthia F. Moss, assistant professor of psychology and Booms' senior thesis adviser, said Booms performed research on the auditory systems of echo-locating bats.
"She was the best undergraduate I have ever known and also a truly beautiful person," said Moss. "It's hard to find words to adequately describe her, and it's a loss we all feel."
Lieberman, who first met Booms as her sophomore tutor in biological anthropology, described her work as "really stunning research, not the kind of research you see from undergraduates."
However, Booms was not able to complete her thesis after she was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease in December 1991. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation therapy for the disease.
Dunster House Master Karel F. Liem said Booms was a "mature and extremely pleasant student who was a superb scholar...a courageous young woman, who, even
After graduation, she returned to her parents' home in Seattle to recover from her illness, after which she was looking forward to applying to graduate school.
Booms is survived by her parents, Bernard and Joan, and her brother Douglas.
Services will be held in Seattle tomorrow, and a memorial service will be held at Dunster House on Saturday, May 8 at 3 p.m.
Booms' family has requested that donations be sent to the Julia K. Booms Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o the Seattle Foundation, 425 Pike St. Suite 510, Seattle, WA 98101