This weekend, the University of Chicago community was shocked by the tragic, heartbreaking loss of Yiran Fan. A member of the Chicago Economics community for nearly six years, Yiran is remembered as an incredibly talented student, highly respected by his peers, and beloved by all who knew him.
Yiran was a fourth-year PhD student in the Joint Program in Financial Economics with the Booth School of Business and the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics. He previously earned an MS degree from the University’s Financial Math program. He was tragically shot and killed on Saturday, January 9, 2021.
Yiran received his undergraduate degree from Peking University and was active in their alumni association. During his six years in Chicago, he was involved in the Chicago Windmill Theatre Club, a Chinese folk theatre association that contributed to the literary life of the Chicago Chinese community. He is described by his friends as “a philosophy buff and a talented and dedicated theater artist.”
Two faculty members who had the privilege of working with and knowing Yiran, Professors Zhiguo He and Lars Peter Hansen, share their thoughts.
“Yiran had every trait to be a rising star in a few years,” said He. “As an intuitive thinker on deep economic questions, he was recognized as super smart, extremely diligent, and extraordinarily persevering. We just started working on something, and I never thought the journey would end so suddenly like this.” Most importantly, Prof. He noted, “He was a good person and a good friend who cared deeply about others.”
In a personal reflection on the tragedy, Nobel Laureate Lars Peter Hansen noted, “Right from the start, Yiran established himself as a remarkable PhD student. He won the Lee Prize from the economics department for being a top performing student in macroeconomics core curriculum. My colleagues and I have been pleased to have him as teaching assistant. Indeed, he always showed a deep commitment to help his fellow graduate students learn.”
Hansen further remarked, “As many of you know, he has been an invaluable intellectual resource to our economics and finance community. He was well on his way to writing an exceptional dissertation using the tools and insights from corporate finance theory and economic dynamics to study the productive role for the oversight of financial institutions and markets…I often remark that I count our best graduate students as among my very best colleagues on campus. Yiran certainly qualified as a superb colleague as well as wonderful person.”
Yiran’s contributions to the UChicago economics community, both personally and academically, will not soon be forgotten. Together as a community, we mourn this devastating and senseless loss. Our deepest sympathies are with his family during this difficult time.
The University of Chicago set up the website http://yirancondolences.uchicago.edu/ to express condolences, share memories, and upload photos, videos, or other files. English messages will be translated into Chinese, and then presented together to the Fan family. Please submit by EOD on Monday, January 18.
In partnership with the Fan family, The university is establishing a fund in memory of Yiran to support students in the joint program of Chicago Booth and the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics. To contribute, you may call 773-702-7747 or donate online via this link (please select the option “Yiran Fan Memorial Fund for the Joint Program in Financial Economics”). The university will send a letter to the family to acknowledge your gift.