Indiana University chemistry graduate student Karlijn Keijzer was among the passengers aboard a Malaysia Airlines jetliner shot down over eastern Ukraine by a surface-to-air missile on July 17.
The plane was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people aboard were killed. The missile was fired from an area inside Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists, the White House confirmed at a July 22 press briefing.
Keijzer, 25, was a fourth-year graduate student who worked in chemistry professor Mu-Hyun Baik’s group. Her research focused on developing a computer program to generate classical force fields to be used in large-scale molecular dynamics simulations, Baik says.
Keijzer was from the Netherlands and was spending the summer there working with collaborators at VU University Amsterdam on projects involving simulations of iron chelating agents and antitumor drugs, Baik says.
Keijzer took the flight to start a short vacation, says Baik, who became very emotional while talking with C&EN. He called Keijzer’s death “horrible.”
“She was one of those members of the group who really brightened the day when she came in,” Baik says. “She was very hardworking. She had so many plans. She really felt that she wanted to do something good for the world.”
“It’s a very sad day for the department,” says IU chemistry department chair David P. Giedroc. He adds that the student community is “taking this news pretty hard.”
The disaster also killed at least six people headed for the 20th International AIDS Conference, which was held July 20–25 in Melbourne, Australia. One of them was Joep Lange, a professor of medicine at the University of Amsterdam’s Academic Medical Center and former president of the International AIDS Society.
The disaster victims’ remains are being transported from Ukraine to the Netherlands for identification. The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution on July 21 calling for an international investigation into the incident.