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Web Date: July 18, 2014

Chemistry Graduate Student Killed In Malaysian Plane Disaster

Indiana University mourning loss of Karlijn Keijzer
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: Malaysia Airlines, plane crash, MH17
Credit: U of Indiana
Photo of Karlijn Keijzer, a chemistry PhD candidate at Indiana University who passed away in the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
Credit: U of Indiana

Indiana University chemistry graduate student Karlijn Keijzer was among the passengers aboard a Malaysian jetliner believed to be shot down over eastern Ukraine by a surface-to-air missile on Thursday.

The plane was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 289 people aboard were killed. U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday that the missile likely came from an area inside Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists, the New York Times reported.

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 people headed for the 20th International AIDS Conference, which starts on July 20 in Melbourne, Australia. An exact number of conference attendees on the plane is not yet available, although the Australian reports that it could top 100. 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.

C&EN will update this story with news of other plane disaster victims with ties to the chemistry enterprise as information becomes available.

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Sunil Patil (Tue Jul 22 01:08:38 EDT 2014)
It really made my heart heavy. May her dreams to contribute to the mankind may not have achieved by her but her spirit will inspire the people who have dream to create heaven on the earth through scientific advancements. May good give strength to her family so bear the grief.

The concern shown by Chemical & Engineering News to chemistry people is worth appreciating.
Adewole Bamidele (Wed Jul 23 15:21:19 EDT 2014)
What a great loss to the world of science and technology. May the Almighty God grant the family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
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