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Asian community to hold vigil for murdered UNC professor

A candlelight vigil is scheduled for Tuesday night for University of North Carolina professor Zijie Yan.

The vigil is organized by the Chinese American Friendship Association of North Carolina and North Carolina Asian American Together, reports ABC11 News.

It will be held at the Cary Arts Center from 7:45 until 9 pm.

Organizers say it is a chance for the Asian community to come together and grieve and for others to come show their support.

A student of Yan has been arrested for the killing.

Today a pre-planned wellness day will take place on campus and no classes are scheduled, according to WRAL. Instead of attending classes, students are asked to focus on their mental health. The timing couldn’t be better as the murder has understandably shaken up the entire campus.

Last week, 5,000 people showed up at a vigil organized by the university, Science.org reported.

“Over the 12+ years that I have known Zijie, my impression of him has only grown, from a very focused and determined young scientist to one of the most creative colleagues that I know,” chemist Norbert Scherer of the University of Chicago (UChicago), who supervised Yan’s postdoctoral work there and co-authored papers with him, said in an email to ScienceInsider.

Tributes have poured in from the scientific community.

“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 honour his legacy by doing just that,” said his department chair Theo Dingemans to Physics World.

“Zijie was a brilliant student, easy-going and always with a big smile, and he had grown into a rising star in his field at UNC. It is such a tragedy for his family, and a huge loss for the materials research community,” said Dr. Yunfeng Shi, professor of materials science and engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York where Yan earned his Ph.D.

Yan graduated from from Huazhong University of Science and Technology before going to RPI. Prior to teaching at UNC, he joined the faculty at Clarkson University in New York and earned his postdoctorate at the University of Chicago.

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