In loving memory of Arjun Srinivas
Author The ADM+S Centre
Date 6 February 2024
Friends and colleagues from QUT’s Creative industries and Social Justice Faculty, the School of Communication, the Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC), and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S) have gathered with Arjun’s family to remember the extraordinary life of Arjun Srinivas, a much loved and valued member of our community.
Arjun joined the ADM+S Centre at QUT as a PhD student in April 2022. He was a scholarship recipient of the Centre, working with researchers on the Australian Search Experience Project, and independently investigating the role of YouTube in curating news content for Australian audiences.
Arjun’s research contributed to one of the most pressing questions of our time: how do social media platforms shape news consumption?
“Researchers like Arjun are truly shooting stars. He had a rare mix of skills and knowledge that are hard enough to find in an entire research team, let alone a single person. His passion for his work, for its real-world impact and contributions, and his indomitable enthusiasm and generosity shone through in his PhD and in everything he did,” said Assoc Prof Timothy Graham, one of Arjun’s PhD supervisors.
His research provided critical insights into a range of areas. By interrogating the very concept of ‘news’ and what YouTube deems to be newsworthy, he highlighted deep questions about what it means to be an authoritative news source in the 21st century.
In late 2023, Arjun completed a three month internship with the ABC Youtube news desk under the supervision Gary Kemble, Social Media Lead at ABC news. During this placement, Arjun investigated how a public service media organisation navigates the recommender systems of large commercial platforms, such as YouTube. This experience was the first PhD internship of its kind for both ABC and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
Along with Arjun’s extraordinary record of academic achievements, he was also known across QUT and the ADM+S Centre for his enthusiasm, warmth, and kindness. Arjun was a highly engaged and caring colleague, often the first to put his hand up to help others or provide support for Centre activities.
“Arjun connected in such a unique and genuine way with everyone he crossed paths with, finding shared interests that he would thoughtfully grow upon,” said PhD student Dominique Carlon.
Arjun’s close friend, Shubhangi Heda said “Arjun in many ways was the person who connected people with each other to give them a comfortable space to share and listen, and he so profoundly valued friendships and cared in a unique way that often left you in the presence of a warm hug.”
More than 270 friends and colleagues attended the service in Brisbane and online on Wednesday 31 January with heartfelt tributes shared by his eldest sister Chaithanya Srinivas, who had travelled to Australia, as well as his sister Madhura Srinivas and mother Dr. Savithri Srinivas who joined the service from India.
“’We lovingly called him Ajju at home. He was the little one and we absolutely adored him.” said Chaithanya.
“All the lovely stories that Arjun’s friends told me about their experiences with him are testament to the beautiful person he was, how loving and giving he was, how many lives he’s touched.
“He loved this line from a poem, he made it his status, it says ‘I am a part of all that I have met’.. So each one of you who my brother was associated with, he is a part of all of you now and he will live on through you.”
Friends and colleagues Donnie Johannessen, Dennis Leeftink, Distinguished Professor Jean Burgess, and Ashwin Nagappa also spoke at the service.
“I feel very honoured that I was given the opportunity to speak and share at the service. It was heartwarming to see so many of you and hear your stories. But there is so much left unsaid still, and there is much to learn from what Arjun has brought to each of our lives.” said PhD student Dennis Leeftink
Distinguished Prof Jean Burgess said that alongside fellow PhD supervisors Assoc Prof Timothy Graham and Prof Axel Bruns, they had absolutely no doubt that Arjun would have gone on to have a wonderful career after completing his PhD. And that they felt proud and lucky to have been his supervisors.
“Arjun had boundless energy and an irrepressible curiosity paired with creativity. Not only was he an excellent researcher and writer, but he also turned his research into an interactive theatre performance on the dynamics of hate speech that was performed in several venues in Europe in mid-2023. Such a broad range of talents and interests is very rare – Arjun was a true polymath”, said Distinguished Prof Jean Burgess.
“We are all the poorer for being robbed of the opportunity to see him pursue and realise his dreams. But our community has been made richer by the time we did have together, and for that, we’re deeply grateful.” said Distinguished Prof Jean Burgess
Arjun Srivinas passed away in Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital on Saturday 27 January 2024 after an accident in Brisbane involving a motor vehicle on Friday 19 January 2024.
Read more about Arjun’s research and achievements on the ADM+S memorial page.
We invite family, friends and colleagues to share memories, thoughts and images on Arjun’s public memorial page.