Update: Engineering student who died at Stanford identified

UPDATE, Feb. 15 — A Stanford graduate student who died by suicide in an engineering lab has been identified by the Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office as Ziwen “Jerry” Wang, 26. Wang’s LinkedIn profile states that he was a fifth-year Ph.D. student in materials science and engineering. He earned an undergraduate physics degree in China in 2014.

The medical examiner said Feb. 14 that Wang died by hanging himself. Police said Monday (Feb. 11) that he died in the Paul G. Allen Building at 330 Serra Mall, at the north side of the Engineering Quad.

At Stanford’s Nano Electronics Lab, Wang focused his research on resistive random-access memory, a type of computer memory, under engineering professor H.-S. Philip Wong.

Wang is also listed as a student researcher in the Nishi Nano-Electronics Group, under electrical engineering and materials science professor Yoshio Nishi.

EARLIER STORY, Feb. 11 — An engineering graduate student was found dead today (Feb. 11) in the Paul G. Allen Building at Stanford, according to university officials.

Jennifer Widom, the dean of the School of Engineering, sent out a message to the engineering department this evening.

Widom said there are no ongoing safety concerns for the campus, but didn’t identify how the student died.

The Stanford Daily reported that the student was a man and was found dead by an apparent suicide in an Engineering Quad laboratory this morning.

The Allen Building is located at 330 Serra Mall, at the north side of the Engineering Quad.

The Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office will contact the student’s next of kin before releasing his or her name.

“I know I speak for all of us here at Stanford in offering our sympathies to the individual’s family, loved ones, fellow students and friends,” Widom said. “The death of a student is always hard to understand and accept. Please take care of yourselves and those around you.”

Widom listed resources available to students in need of crisis counseling, including the university’s Counseling and Psychological Services, which offers walk-in appointments and 24/7 clinicians available by phone at (650) 723-3785.

The Bridge Peer Counseling Center offers counseling by trained students 24/7 at (650) 723-3392, and the Office for Religious Life offers spiritual guidance for students at (650) 723-1762.



  1. Shame on you in disclosing the student’s name! How can you be so insensitive and predatory? This student is not a public figure so I thought by default NO NEWS with any dignity would report the student’s name. How can you try to boost number of viewers by disregarding the pain of people surrounding the student?

  2. emmanum, you’re contributing to the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness. By insisting that others not talk about it, you make the situation worse. Suicide and mental health should be discussed openly, not hidden. Shame on you!

    • Sure, we should talk about it. But the article didn’t talk about anything constructive to the society. This article only “focuses on identity”, and I think that’s why emmanum said it’s insensitive. There was already a article about this incident a few days ago. If the publisher can’t talk anything else except identity then it’s just a negative influence to our world and making harm to loved ones.

  3. The best thing to do when a problem arises is to bury your head in the sand and pretend it didn’t happen. Silence (and media censorship) is the only way to end the suicide crisis. Let’s all pretend this didn’t happen.

  4. Very sad to hear this news. I am also a Chinese researcher working in the same field. He graduated from the elite school and he was working with big names. I guess the research of this field is indeed somehow boring and tough. But he still did something great. I like his research on NbO2. I also understand there could be huge pressure with us, the pressure to secure a good job, to publish more papers to graduate… Sometimes research is not only the interest, but a bitter way to make living. Hope his relatives could take care. RIP.

  5. After a suicide there’s always a group of people who want the whole thing to be hushed up, thinking that if you don’t talk about the problem, it will just go away. These people contribute to the stigma surrounding mental illness, and they make it less likely that those who need help will get the attention they deserve. The keep-it-secret crowd needs to go away.

    • I don’t think the problem they have is with talking about suicide, but rather “mentioning the student’s name” as they said. The question is “should the privacy of the family be considered?”. I’m guessing that the writer of this article did not ask the family’s permission before publishing.

  6. It’s sad to see people attacking a media outlet for simply doing its job. The media have always reported the names of people who die. Uncensored news coverage is something our society used to cherish. I guess the Trump attacks on the news media have taken hold at Stanford. Sad day.

  7. PhD is not actually about ‘contributing new knowledge’.

    I had similar experience while I was doing PhD at a world top university.

    I finally quit the PhD for saving my health.

    It was unfortunate and miserable to study at that department and chose those horrible supervisors.

  8. Saying the family should have the right to decide if anything is published means nothing would ever be published. Giving the family a veto over a story is a clever way of promoting media censorship. In repressive societies, bad news is covered up and the problems are never solved. In an open society, responsible citizens take bad news (like a suicide) and push for improvements and reform. Instead of media censorship, we should be pushing for:

    — more mental health counseling;

    — education to help people identify those who are having problems;

    — more regulation of pharmaceuticals that can cause suicide.

    Censoring the name will never save a life. The young man’s name is a public record, and it’s a public record for a good reason. People should know when and why others around them are dying.

  9. Lots of cold words above. Revealing the victim’s name, by all means, looks no good to me. So nowadays people need to know the victim’s name in order to be aware of suicide?! This has nothing to do with “censorship”! Don’t just put big words to pretend you are smart.

  10. “Don’t just put big words to pretend you are smart.”

    I hope that wasn’t a Stanford student who wrote that, but it wouldn’t surprise me either.

  11. Kindness goes a long way. We need to start pulling together as a community—both here and in the real world. These suicides highlight how hard a time people are having right now. We need to start being warmer and kinder to each other.

Comments are closed.