Asian American Scholar Community Grieves the Murder of Dr. Zijie Yan, Physical Science Professor at University of North Carolina



Washington, DC—Dr. Zijie Yan, associate professor of applied physical sciences at University of North Carolina, was shot and killed last Monday by a graduate student on the Chapel Hill campus. Yan was a dedicated and beloved father, husband, educator, researcher, and colleague. He earned his doctorate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and completed his postdoctoral studies at the University of Chicago in 2015; he then became an assistant professor at Clarkson University prior to making his way to UNC. Yan was a well-published researcher whose collaborations with other scholars made critical advances in photonics and materials science.

The Asian American Scholar Forum (AASF) joins the UNC community in grieving the devastating killing of Dr. Yan, and boldly condemns the senseless act of violence perpetrated against him and his family.

“Our hearts go out to the UNC academic community, and especially the spouse and children of Professor Zijie Yan,” said AASF President Yasheng Huang. “We grieve the loss of this brilliant scholar and the significant contributions he made to his field. No scholar should be made to live in fear for pursuing their passion at our academic institutions. We strongly condemn the killing of this esteemed colleague, and all acts of violence that shatter our trust and sense of safety in our communities.”

“We are devastated by this week’s news of the murder of Dr. Zijie Yan—a well-respected physical science professor, researcher, colleague, and friend,” said AASF Vice President Kai Li. “Not only was he an esteemed scholar, he was an attentive husband and father to loved ones now forced to live with the inexplicable reality of his loss. All Yan wanted—all any committed scholar wants—is to develop future scholars and contribute to making meaningful advances in their field. We stand today with Yan’s family and the UNC community to condemn in the strongest terms this cruel act of violence, and urge all of us to support his family in this unspeakably difficult time.”

For those interested in how to help support the family of the late Dr. Zijie Yan, please find these two fundraisers, one for his daughters here and another for his parents here


Asian American Scholar Forum (AASF) is a national non-profit that promotes academic belonging, openness, freedom, and equality for all. In response to heightened anti-Asian sentiments and profiling in the U.S., AASF has been a leading national voice fighting for the rights of Asian American and immigrant scientists, researchers, and scholars. AASF membership includes members from the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, in addition to past and current university presidents, provost, vice provosts, deans, associate deans and past and current department chairs.