Miaoxiu "Tina" Tian ’18, a material science and engineering major from Chengdu, China, was found dead in her apartment on Wednesday. She was 21.

December 14, 2017

A ‘Profound Loss’: Cornell Senior Found Dead During Finals Week

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A Cornell senior described as a talented student who excelled in her field and was eager to take on new projects was found dead during finals week, the University announced on Thursday.

Miaoxiu “Tina” Tian ’18, a materials science and engineering major from Chengdu, China, was found dead in her apartment on Wednesday, Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life, said in a statement. She was 21.

Ithaca Police are investigating, but no foul play is suspected, Lombardi said. A police source familiar with the investigation told The Sun that the death appeared to be a suicide. The source was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on the condition of anonymity. An Ithaca Police spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tian “excelled in physics and the sciences,” Lombardi said. She approached Prof. Huili Grace Xing, materials science and engineering, in the spring and asked to join her research group, Lance R. Collins, the College of Engineering dean, said in an email to engineering students.

In the Xing Research Group, Tian studied “how to perform X-ray diffraction measurements on various heterostructures based on GaN and numerical analysis to extract crystalline quality and film thicknesses,” Collins said, adding that she excelled in that area.

Xing said Tian “was a dedicated student, always eager to take on new research projects.”

In the fall semester, Tian was again working in Xing’s group and planned to prepare for graduate school, Lombardi and Collins said. “Please join me in taking a moment to remember her and acknowledge this profound loss within our community,” Collins said.

Tian appears to have been a photographer who was proud to attend Cornell, according to online profiles. She clutches a camera in several photographs, one aside a lake and another overlooking a city. On one account, she used a picture of the McGraw Tower at night as a background photograph and posted about applying to Cornell.

“We are extremely saddened and mourning this terrible loss in our community.” said R. Bruce van Dover, chair of the materials science and engineering department.

Cornell is holding a support meeting for community members on Friday from 10 to 11 a.m. in 102 Thurston Hall.

Students may consult with counselors from Cornell Health Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) by calling 607-255-5155.

Students may speak with a peer counselor by calling the Empathy, Assistance and Referral Service EARS at 607-255-3277.

Concern for Others: What to notice; how to respond (Cornell Health)

Employees may call the Faculty Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at 607-255-2673.

An Ithaca-based Crisis line is available at 607-272-1616. For additional resources, visit caringcommunity.cornell.edu.