Monday, November 12, 2012

The Death of Lei Yang

Lei Yang is a common Chinese name, and there are dozens of the name living in the US, several of them could be found on popular social networking websites such as Linked-In or Facebook, which caused confusions when the story was first heard about Yang's death.

Thirty-year old Lei Yang, a research scientist at the ConocoPhillips, had been living a double life. On Nov 4, 2012, the same day he jumped out of a speeding 2011 Chevy Traverse on west bound County Road 3900, he posted a well acclaimed advisory offering tips on how to publish high quality papers on the Science Net. Before they heard the bad news, thousands of Chinese students and scholars had studied the article, in which Yang reflected on his success in research and publication, including 8 papers on Science and Nature within 2 years in the area of solid oxide fuel cells alone. As a fresh PhD, it's a remarkable achievement that would warrant a position with a faculty top university or research institute. Yang's personal blogs had been followed by numerous aspiring scientists for career guidance. Yang is truly a shining star in the virtual cyberspace.

Alas, Yang ended his life in such a dramatic way, an incident people would surely talk about in the next few days at lunch break.

At the time, his wife 31 year-old Shuang Xue was holding the wheel. Their 2 year-old son Vincent Yang was sleeping in the back seat. According to his Xue, Yang was giving instructions to Xue who was learning to drive, and the two had an argument. Local police determined the car was operating normally at the time, and no one else was injured.

Lei began his college life in the Department of Materials Science at Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics (BUAA) in 1999. He then earned a Master's degree from the Qinghua University before pursuing a PhD degree at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In past 5 years, Lei's achievements include a gold prize from Materials Research Society, National Scholarship from Chinese government, IUPAC International young chemists award, anACerS award, as well as 5 patents and over 30 high impact papers.

In real life, Yang was known as a person you would otherwise notice, for being unfashionably laid-back. In a group picture taken at an award ceremony, a short Yang was dwarfed by his sharply dressed peers in a five sized up suits.

A friend of Yang recalled Yang had to call in at late night to ask a $25 refund for two tables he bought from a yard sale. Even over the phone, Yang's wife could be heard scolding Yang loudly.

According to an online memorial site, A memorial fund account has been set up for Lei. A check can be sent to: Attn: Lei Yang Memorial Fund, 66 Federal Credit Union, PO Box 1358, Bartlesville, OK 74005.

Rest in Peace, Lei Yang.

Update via ScienceNet:

Family friends Mr. Li and Ms. Li released a statement on Nov 13, 2012 regarding Dr. Yang's death. According to this statement, Dr. Yang did not have a heated dispute with his wife. Because of language barrier, Dr. Yang's wife told police there was a quarrel, and that Dr. Yang jumped out of the car. However, none of those actually happened.

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