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In Honor of Bunn Buraparat ’20

Bunn Buraparat '20 standing in front of his S3P poster

Bunn Buraparat '20 at the 2016 Swarthmore Summer Scholars poster session.

President Valerie Smith shared the following message with the community on August 9, 2017:



We continue to mourn the loss of Bunn Buraparat ’20. Last week, his father, Thanon “Tommy” Buraparat informed us of Bunn’s death in a car accident on July 25 in Bangkok, Thailand. Those who knew Bunn remember his joyous, lively personality that belied his curious, kind, and thoughtful nature.

“To all of his studies, Bunn brought a playful — one might even say mischievous — sense of humor that could easily conceal his eagerness and intensity of dedication,” says Professor of Physics Catherine Crouch, who taught Bunn during last summer’s Swarthmore Summer Scholars Program and the following fall. “I last saw Bunn in the spring when he and some other students came to my house for dinner. That same energy, liveliness, and optimism were present even in the last month of the semester.” 

Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics Ben Geller ’01 remembers meeting Bunn last summer and asking him what he was most excited about at Swarthmore.

“A big smile came over his face and he said there was too much he was excited about to name just one thing,” Geller says. “It was clear that he loved science and he spoke enthusiastically about all the ways he wanted to use science to design and create new things in the world. He spoke about wanting to find the area of science where he could make the biggest difference."

Edward Magill Professor of Physics Frank Moscatelli co-taught the Summer Scholars physics class with Professor Crouch last summer and coordinated the students’ final poster projects. Professor Moscatelli fondly recalls the “cool kid” who, with his partner, proposed an energy storage project for renewable sources such as wind and solar — using water balloons.

“Bunn was the kind of student you would put in a group to get people talking to each other,” Moscatelli says. “By being so open and friendly, he added the glue that developed among the students.”

The son of Thai immigrants who lived in Grover Beach, Calif., Bunn was a Class of 2016 graduate of Arroyo Grande High School, where he excelled in calculus.

Last spring, Bunn participated in the 2017 SwatTank competition, during which he and his team presented GamePlan, a personalized social app that would allow students to make and easily share event plans. It seems fitting that Bunn, who brought so many together, helped devise a tool for students to connect in fun, spontaneous ways.

Bunn also helped establish Launchdeck, a new and popular student organization focused on the practical application of web and app development. The group’s stated goals reflect Bunn’s own values: the desire to “help others who may be just starting and facing barriers by passing on knowledge and advice” and to encourage students “to apply learnings inside the classroom and pursue ideas that address important issues.”

Bunn continued to pursue entrepreneurial interests in Thailand this summer, visiting family and pursuing an internship in financial technology innovation at Krungsri, the fifth largest bank in the country.

Bunn possessed an infectious sense of humor that brought light and joy to those around him.

We will share details about a fall memorial service once they are finalized. Please continue to keep Bunn’s family and close friends in your heart, thoughts, and prayers.


Valerie Smith

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