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In Memoriam: Shoucheng Zhang 1963-2018

Dear Colleagues,

This past Saturday evening, our colleague Shoucheng Zhang died suddenly.

This is a devastating loss.  Shoucheng has long been an intellectual leader in theoretical physics who is widely admired for his extraordinary creativity, faith in the power of precise and elegant mathematics to elucidate even complex real-world problems in physics and beyond, as well as for his devotion to the many brilliant students and post docs he has mentored.  His many seminal contributions to the field will surely stand as a memorial to him. 

Like many of you, I have lost a dear friend whose infectious enthusiasm for new experiences and love of exploring ideas and scholarship across all disciplines are irreconcilable with his tragic end.  Those of you who knew him personally will also remember his close and loving relationship with his family, and how proud he was of his remarkable children, Brian and Stephanie, and of course his childhood sweetheart and the love of his life, Barbara.   I have included their remarks about Shoucheng’s death below.

This is an inconceivable loss to all of us. I will keep you posted as more information becomes available. As we all work to process this distressing news, please know there are resources at Stanford to support you, including Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Vaden Health Center for students, the Faculty Staff Help Center, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, the Office for Religious Life and others.

Please reach out for support and offer support to those around you.

In sorrow,

Steven Kivelson


Zhang Family Statement

We are heartbroken to inform you that our beloved Shoucheng passed away unexpectedly this past Saturday, December 1 after fighting a battle with depression.

While many knew Shoucheng as a renowned scientist and thinker, we knew and loved him as our dear husband and father. Shoucheng cherished quality time with his family above everything else, and would set aside whatever he could to be there for us. On our family vacations together, he loved to take us to the most beautiful natural sights on Earth, to share with us stories of ancient history in every region we visited, and to encourage our latest ideas and interests. Motivated by his desire to witness the glory of God through scientific research, Shoucheng brought an infectious spirit of curiosity to the entire world. His favorite poem, by William Blake, expressed his life’s mission for boundless exploration and discovering beauty:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

As we face this devastating news, we are deeply grateful for the support and condolences that we have received. We would ask, however, for the public to respect our privacy as we grieve over this immense loss.


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