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Chappaqua Train Victim Robert Dirks Had Distinguished Career, Achievements

Robert Dirks
Robert Dirks Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York/Twitter

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- Robert Dirks, who was identified as the Chappaqua resident among the victims of Tuesday's Metro-North train crash in Valhalla, had a career that took him into the scientific field.

Several media reports noted his employment at D.E. Shaw Research, a prominent scientific firm founded by David E. Shaw, who also founded a hedge-fund firm with a similar name.

A short biography of Dirks on the company's website notes his work in development of what it calls "novel computational chemistry methods."

According to his company biography and LinkedIn profile, Dirks earned a doctoral degree in chemistry from CalTech in Pasadena, Calif., in 2005 and a bachelor's degree in chemistry and mathematics at Wabash College in Indiana, in 2000, having graduated summa cum laude.

D.E. Shaw Research released a statement regarding the loss.

"Robert was a brilliant scientist who made tremendous contributions to our own research, and to the broader scientific community, during his eight years at D. E. Shaw Research," the statement reads. "He will be deeply missed as both a colleague and a friend.  Our hearts go out to his wife Christine and their children."

Dirks was 36 and grew up in Spokane, Wash., according to The Spokesman Review , a newspaper that covers that city.

The newspaper states that Dirks graduated in 1996 from Lewis and Clark High School, and was the class valedictorian.

“I expected him to be a scientist and excel at his work, because he did so well in the academic settings,” said his father, Michael Dirks, in an interview with The New York Post. “But it was beautiful to watch how good he interacted with his two children.”

New Castle Supervisor Rob Greenstein issued his own statement about the loss of three people in the crash who had ties to the area, including Dirks.

"I expressed hope that everyone got home safely," Greenstein stated. "Three members of our community did not."

The supervisor added, "On behalf of the Town of New Castle, we want to express our sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of Joseph Nadol of Ossining, Robert Dirks of Chappaqua and Ellen Brody, who worked at a local jewelry store."

Chappaqua is a hamlet in New Castle.

Daily Voice reported that Nadol, who worked for JP Morgan Chase, was a resident of the West End, a section of New Castle that is in the Ossining postal zone and school district.

Brody, Daily Voice reported, was an Edgemont resident, the driver of the vehicle that was struck by a train in Valhalla, and an employee of ICD Contemporary Jewelry in Chappaqua.

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