Zijie Yan

Zijie Yan

Author: ChemistryViews

Associate Professor Zijie Yan, University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, USA, died on August 28, 2023. The 38-year-old nanoscientist was fatally shot at the university, leaving faculty members and students shocked and devastated. A graduate student in Yan’s lab, Tailei Qi, was charged with first-degree murder and possession of a gun on educational property. The motives are unclear so far; the investigation is still ongoing [1,2].

“We are deeply saddened by the incredible loss of Dr. Zijie Yan. He was a great asset to the department and to the University”, Theo Dingemans, Chair of the Applied Physical Sciences Department in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said.

Zijie Yan leaves behind a wife and two young daughters. “He was very kind and soft-spoken but also a great listener with a wonderful sense of humor”, Theo Dingemans said. “Zijie was not only a great colleague, but he was also an outstanding professor, researcher and mentor. With his research program, he was pushing the boundaries of nanoscience, as evidenced by the numerous papers he had published in scientific journals. Zijie would’ve wanted us to move forward in educating students and conducting research that would change the world, and we will honor his legacy by doing just that.”



Zijie Yan’s research focused on work at the boundary between photonics and materials science. He and his team developed new techniques to control light-matter interactions at the nanometer scale and explored advanced optical approaches to precisely manipulating nanoscopic objects and create material assemblies. His research interests included optical trapping, binding, and sorting, the synthesis and fabrication of nanostructures, holographic laser beam shaping, electrodynamics simulations, nano-bio interactions, and optofluidics.



Zijie Yan studied Materials Science and Engineering, Computer Science, and Physical Electronics at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China. He obtained his Ph.D. in Materials Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, USA, in 2011. After postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago, IL, USA, from 2011 to 2015, he joined Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY, USA, as Assistant Professor. In 2019, he moved to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as Assistant Professor.



[1] Susan Hudson, Latest updates: Campus grieves after shooting at Caudill Labs, University Communications, University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, USA, August 29th, 2023.

[2] Press Briefing From UNC-Chapel Hill | August 29, 2023, www.youtube.com. (accessed August 31, 2023)


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