University announces death of graduate student Samar Zora in Turkey earthquake

The University announced on Feb. 15 the death of Samar Zora, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in cultural anthropology. 

The notification was sent to students, faculty and staff in the cultural anthropology department by Suzanne Barbour, dean of the Graduate School, Gary Bennett, dean of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, and Mary Pat McMahon, vice provost and vice president of student affairs.

Zora went missing in the Feb. 6 earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Her body was found Feb. 14.

Zora, who joined Duke in 2019, was conducting research in Hatay Province, Turkey, at the time of her death, Duke administrators wrote. Her brothers reportedly traveled to the region from Canada – where Zora is from – to find her after not hearing from her and being unable to get assistance from the Canadian embassy. 

“Samar’s family describes her as an old soul, with an appreciation for Middle Eastern cultures that grew through her studies at Duke,” the email from administrators read. 

A quote from Zora’s brother included in the email describes her as “full of life” and a “very sweet, good-hearted person.”

The email also states that Zora’s death may impact people that didn’t know her “in profound ways” due to the ongoing humanitarian situation in the region where the earthquakes occurred.

As of Feb. 20, nearly 47,000 people had been confirmed dead in the initial earthquake. Several aftershocks have occurred in the days since Feb. 6, and another earthquake hit the region Feb. 20.

To donate to Zora's family, click here.

To donate to the Samar Zora Foundation for Hatay Relief, which will give back to those in Antakya and Hatay, click here.

Additional mental health resources are available below for those who may need them at this time:

Mental health and wellness resources for the 2022-23 year

A list of mental health resources for people of color at Duke and in Durham

A list of local mental health resources for members of the LGBTQ+ community

The Office of Graduate Student Affairs can connect graduate students with support campus resources at

Personal Assistance Service, a faculty and employee assistance program, can offer assessment, short-term counseling, and referrals, free of charge to Duke faculty and staff and their immediate family members.

Nadia Bey profile
Nadia Bey | Digital Strategy Director

Nadia Bey, Trinity '23, was managing editor for The Chronicle's 117th volume and digital strategy director for Volume 118.


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