Top Stan­ford physi­cist Shoucheng Zhang dies

China Daily - - TOP NEWS - By CHANG JUN in San Fran­cisco [email protected]­nadai­lyusa.com

Well-known Stan­ford Univer­sity physi­cist and en­tre­pre­neur Shoucheng Zhang has died at the age of 55.

The death of the prom­i­nent Chi­nese-Amer­i­can sci­en­tist was con­firmed in a Wed­nes­day email sent on be­half of Dan­hua Cap­i­tal, the ven­ture cap­i­tal com­pany he helped start.

“It’s with a heavy heart that we share with you the sud­den pass­ing of our beloved friend, the found­ing chair­man, pro­fes­sor Shoucheng Zhang, who passed away on Dec 1,” the email said. No cause of death was given, but me­dia re­ports cited fam­ily mem­bers as say­ing he had been bat­tling de­pres­sion.

The award-win­ning physi­cist was im­por­tant in aca­demic and high­tech in­no­va­tion cir­cles.

In 2013, Zhang es­tab­lished Dan­hua Cap­i­tal with Stan­ford doc­toral can­di­date Gu An­jia, hop­ing to nur­ture en­trepreneurs in the United States, em­power in­no­va­tion and strengthen cross-bor­der tech­nol­ogy and mar­ket in­te­gra­tion.

He su­per­vised many high-tech com­pe­ti­tions in Sil­i­con Val­ley, men­tored early-stage star­tups and was a key­note speaker at high-level tech­nol­ogy ex­changes.

“He has been an in­valu­able as­set, not only in aca­demics but also in tech fields,” said Tom Zhang, a San Jose-based in­vestor and in­dus­try ob­server. “We have lost a bril­liant mind and soul.”

A tenured pro­fes­sor in physics, ap­plied physics and elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing at the prom­i­nent Cal­i­for­nia univer­sity, Zhang also was an aca­demi­cian of the Amer­i­can Academy of Sciences, a for­eign aca­demi­cian at the Chi­nese Academy of Sciences and a pro­fes­sor in the In­sti­tute for Ad­vanced Study at Ts­inghua Univer­sity.

Dan­hua of­fi­cials said the com­pany would con­tinue op­er­at­ing.

“Un­der Zhang’s lead­er­ship, we have formed a strong and co­he­sive team,” the email said. “We will carry out his un­ful­filled de­sires and stay the course to con­tinue his ef­forts, in­clud­ing push­ing for­ward in­no­va­tion and en­trepreneur­ship.”

A Shang­hai na­tive, Zhang en­tered Shang­hai-based Fu­dan Univer­sity in 1978 at the age of 15, ma­jor­ing in the­o­ret­i­cal physics. He was cho­sen for a merit-based schol­ar­ship to Ger­many, where he re­ceived his bach­e­lor’s de­gree in 1983 from Free Univer­sity of Ber­lin. In 1987, he re­ceived his doc­tor­ate from State Univer­sity of New York at Stony Brook, with No­bel lau­re­ate Chen-Ning Yang as his men­tor.

After join­ing Stan­ford, Zhang gained recog­ni­tion for spear­head­ing pi­o­neer­ing re­search on the in­trin­sic spin of the elec­tron and its mag­netic prop­er­ties, and on topo­log­i­cal in­su­la­tors.

Among the hon­ors he re­ceived were the Guggen­heim Fel­low­ship in 2007, the Hum­boldt Re­search Award in 2009, the EPS CMD Euro­physics Prize in 2010, the Oliver E. Buck­ley Con­densed Mat­ter Prize by the Amer­i­can Phys­i­cal So­ci­ety in 2011 and the Dirac Prize in 2012. In 2013, he and renowned physi­cist Stephen Hawk­ing were awarded the Physics Fron­tiers Prize. In ad­di­tion, he was the Thom­son Reuters Ci­ta­tion Lau­re­ate in 2014 and won the Ben­jamin Franklin Medal in 2015.

In an in­ter­view with China Daily, Zhang at­trib­uted his aca­demic achieve­ments to Stan­ford, which he called his source of hap­pi­ness.

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