News

2019-01-19 15:55:23
In memoriam: Maolin Zhang
We are grief-stricken that our PhD student Maolin Zhang passed away during the early morning of January 17th 2019. He died during a terrible fire that took place at his house in Hillegom. Maolin was born on July 25th 1991 and grew up in the countryside near Yangtang Village, Shuangqiao Town, Qidong County, Hunan Province, China. After graduating from secondary school, he was admitted to the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing. He obtained a Masters degree in Engineering from the Department of Engineering Physics there in July 2016. His Master’s thesis was entitled ‘Interferometric imaging and data processing’. During the summer of 2014 he participated in a student program at the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) at Dwingeloo, the Netherlands. Supervised by Tom Oosterloo he used observations taken by the Westerbork radio telescope to study the distribution of hydrogen gas in galaxies. His exposure to radio astronomy motivated Maolin to apply for a scholarship from the Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) to pursue a PhD in radio astronomy at Leiden Observatory. After being awarded this prestigious scholarship, Maolin travelled to Leiden in mid-2017 and started on a PhD project supervised by Prof. Huub Röttgering that involved observations of the distant Universe by the LOFAR radio telescope. During his first year at Leiden Maolin’s research concentrated on the analysis of LOFAR results on the formation and evolution of massive galaxies and black holes. He reduced data for a sample of radio sources whose properties indicate that they are located at extremely large distances. The results provided an important contribution to a paper that was led by Aayush Saxena, another Leiden PhD student. During his second year, Maolin helped develop a new Bayesian technique to select large and well-defined samples of quasars from a multi-wavelength combination of data from recent surveys from optical telescopes and radio surveys from the LOFAR telescope. Working closely with Ken Duncan, Jonah Wagenveld and his promotor Huub Röttgering, he was well on his way to publishing his first paper. Maolin was an extremely intelligent, hardworking and dedicated student with a passion for astronomy. He was eager to learn, always seeking to develop his skills, knowledge and experience further. We know Maolin as friendly, always smiling, modest and grateful for his chances in life. He had many interests outside of astronomy, including table tennis, tennis, Chinese chess, cooking and fishing. As a board member of the Leiden Science China community (LSC), he was an active member of the Chinese community at Leiden University. In his enthusiastic, diligent, and helpful way he was responsible for promoting various events organized by the LSC. He designed the nice logo of the LSC. The loss of Maolin leaves a deep hole at the heart of our institute. It has been a privilege to know Maolin and to work with him, and it is hard to realise that he is not among us any more. Maolin’s journey to unravel the mysteries of the universe has come to a shocking and unexpected end. We will always remember Maolin as a bright star in our universe. In memory of Maolin, we’ve created a special place in the Oort building, (Oortkamer, room 531). It offers a place to think about him, to leave a message in a condolence book and to share your grief with colleagues, students and friends. There was a home for you in an exciting, cold and exotic place with statistics and machines dissecting the seemingly lifeless universe probing galaxies so far out You a living bubble surrounded by alien words your lampoon brightening the ocean preying on fish fish and discovery discovery and science warming all bubbles in sight the communal hot tub of life a strange ride encounter and adventure on your way somehow something popped your bubble way too soon how can we grapple with something so far out The path of least resistance is straight up from the place you first opened your eyes from the place you first gazed up some travel farther than others explore further than others so far out You are one of them You are one of us We miss you Maolin An anonymous astronomy PhD student
Publ. 2019-01-19 15:55:23