About five years ago, Yiran Fan asked three of his fellow University of Chicago students to stand in a perfect isosceles triangle. They were in the middle of a drama rehearsal—and this shape, Fan said, would better evoke the tension of the characters.
This memory was one of many shared during a Jan. 14 candlelight vigil on campus held in honor of Fan, who died in a Jan. 9 shooting. Just 30 years old, Fan was remembered as an exceptional student and collaborator—one whose skills and knowledge were sought after, even as a fourth-year Ph.D. student who had yet to propose his dissertation.
But he was also so much more.
“Yiran had a romantic heart as well as a logical brain,” said Katie Tian, MBA’20, a former president of the Windmill Chinese Drama Club at UChicago. “He liked to express artistic presentation in mathematical terms.”
Fan, SM’15, came from China to the University in 2014 to study financial mathematics. He later enrolled in a joint program of the Booth School of Business and the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, but his interests also extended far beyond his academic studies.
In the first email he ever sent to his drama club, Fan illustrated his deep knowledge of existentialism and the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. To his actors and fellow students, he was also a capable and patient director—albeit one who, Tian said, “was always too nice to criticize anyone.”