• Economics Major, Demetrius Johnson Jr., Receives Diversity Leadership Award

    Faculty, alumni, staff and student winners to be recognized during 2021 MLK commemoration

    Every year, the University of Chicago honors members of the UChicago community who demonstrate leadership and a sustained commitment to justice and equality. In addition to faculty, alumni and staff, this year’s Diversity Leadership Awards also recognize the contributions of UChicago students.

    This year’s recipients are Prof. Anita Blanchard, MD’90; Rami Nashashibi, AM’98, PhD’11; Jessica Jaggers of Chicago Booth; and UChicago students Nova Smith and Demetrius Johnson Jr. They will be honored Jan. 12 during a virtual celebration of UChicago’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration.

    The winners are selected by the Diversity Leadership Council, along with the University of Chicago Alumni Board.

    Portrait of Demetrius Johnson Jr. Demetrius Johnson Jr. is a third-year economics major in the College committed to improving the experience of Black undergraduate students on campus. He is president of the Theta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, which he revived at the University.

    He is also a member of the University’s Chicago Maroon varsity football team and a two-time Midwest Conference All-Academic selection. After the social unrest that occurred in many parts of the country in 2020, Johnson founded the Black Letterwinning Athletes Coalition (BLAC) at UChicago, an organization designed to amplify and cater to the needs of Black student athletes at predominately white campuses­­­­­­­­­. Several other BLAC chapters have now launched at campuses across the country.

    An Odyssey Scholar, Johnson also tutors Chicago high school students on financial literacy through Moneythink Mentors, a program focused on the real-world financial decisions young people face. Johnson is part of the selective Financial Markets Program of the Trott Business Program; a member of UChicago Private Equity; and an analyst in BLK Capital Management, a 100% Black-owned, student-run, long/short equity hedge fund based at Harvard University. He will be an investment banking summer analyst at Morgan Stanley this summer.

    To view a complete list of award recipients, visit the full news story at news.uchicago.edu.

  • Yiran Fan, Ph.D. student ‘beloved by all who knew him,’ 1990-2021

    Yiran Fan Portrait  

    Yiran Fan came from China to the University in 2014 to study in the financial mathematics program, and later enrolled in a joint Ph.D. program of Chicago Booth and the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics.

    Campus community mourns loss of exceptional scholar and kind friend

    Members of the University of Chicago community are mourning the loss of graduate student Yiran Fan, SM’15, and remembering him as an exceptional student, talented scholar and beloved friend.

    A 30-year-old Ph.D. student in a joint program of the Booth School of Business and the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, Fan was shot and killed on Jan. 9. A candlelight vigil will be held in remembrance of Fan on Jan. 14 at 4 p.m. CST, with a live broadcast available on the UChicago News site.

    “This sudden and senseless loss of life causes us indescribable sorrow,” wrote President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Ka Yee C. Lee in a message to the campus community.

    “In the days ahead, we will come together as a community to mourn, and to lift up fellow members of our community in this difficult and very sad time.”

    Fan came from China to the University in 2014 to study in the financial mathematics program, having already completed a bachelor’s degree in finance from Peking University and a master’s degree in financial engineering from the University of Cambridge. After earning a master’s degree at UChicago in 2015, he served as a research professional at the Fama-Miller Center for Research in Finance. He was in the fourth year of a joint Booth/Economics Ph.D. program in financial economics and was hoping to propose his dissertation later this year.

    “Yiran is remembered as a smart and incredibly talented student, highly respected by his peers and beloved by all who knew him,” said Chicago Booth Dean Madhav Rajan in a message to the school community.

    Fan worked closely with Zhiguo He, the Fuji Bank and Heller Professor of Finance and Jeuck Faculty Fellow, and contributed to projects about the interaction of bankers’ assets and liability management, as well as studying screening competition under flexible information acquisition.

    “Yiran had every trait to be a rising star in a few years,” He said. “As an intuitive thinker on deep economic questions, he was recognized as super smart, extremely diligent and extraordinarily persevering. We just started working on something, and I never thought the journey would end so suddenly like this.”

    “I got to know Yiran very well and considered him family,” said George M. Constantinides, the Leo Melamed Professor of Finance, for whom Fan served as a research professional on two projects. “Yiran was one of our brightest PhD students with a brilliant future ahead of him. He was very kind and considerate. I will miss him dearly.”

    Fellow PhD classmate Yang Su fondly remembered their frequent conversations about research and life, and how Fan would often talk about his family in China. “I thought of Yiran as a lifelong friend and research partner,” said Su. “We used to talk a lot about ideas and theories, and we could always understand each other perfectly. One does not meet many people like that.”

    Fan also served as a teaching assistant at Booth during the Autumn Quarter, and he served as the Fama-Miller Professional Development Fellow for the 2020–21 academic year, working with current researchers on their professional development.

    “Yiran was an invaluable intellectual resource among our economics and finance community, always showing a deep commitment to help his fellow graduate students learn,” said Lars Peter Hansen, the David Rockefeller Distinguished Service Professor in Economics, Statistics and the Booth School of Business.

    Hansen added that Fan was “well on his way to writing an exceptional dissertation” using the tools and insights from corporate finance theory and economic dynamics to study the role for the oversight of financial institutions and markets.

    “I often remark that I count our best graduate students among my very best colleagues on campus, and Yiran certainly qualified as a superb colleague as well as a wonderful person,” said Hansen.

    Robert Shimer, chair of the University’s Department of Economics and the Alvin H. Baum Professor, remembered Fan for his “insightful and rigorous” analyses and for his “extraordinary performance” in his Theory of Income class. Fan received the top grade in the macroeconomics core examination during his first year, and “continued to excel after that,” Shimer said.

    “Graduate students know Yiran as a talented classmate, a superb teaching assistant and a kind friend,” said Shimer. “Faculty recognize him as an exceptional research assistant, student and scholar.”

    Outside of his research, Fan was an active participant and organizer of a student workshop in macroeconomics and finance, and often provided helpful comments on the work of his classmates.

    “Yiran was held in high regard by all who knew him—students, staff and faculty here at Booth and the University,” said Malaina Brown, director of the Ph.D. Program at Chicago Booth. “He will be deeply missed.”

    Fan is survived by his father, Chenggang Fan, and his mother, Chunzhi Xu.

    —This story was also published on UChicago News and the Booth School of Business website.

     

  • Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics mourns loss of PhD student Yiran Fan

    A Message from Department Chair Robert Shimer

    It is with great sadness that I share the news that Yiran Fan, a fourth year PhD student in a joint program of the Booth School of Business and the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, was a victim of a homicide on Saturday, January 9.

    Yiran came to the University of Chicago to enroll in the Financial Mathematics master’s program in 2014. He then worked for two years as a research professional for faculty both in our department and in Booth, before joining the joint PhD program in 2017. Graduate students know Yiran as a talented classmate, a superb teaching assistant, and a kind friend. Faculty recognize him as an exceptional research assistant, student, and scholar. I remember Yiran from his extraordinary performance in my core Theory of Income PhD class. He received the Lee Prize for the top grade in the Theory of Income core examination during his first year, and he continued to excel after that. 

    Yiran’s research combined insights from economic dynamics and corporate finance theory to better understand the regulation of financial institutions and markets. His analyses were both insightful and rigorous. Yiran was an active participant and organizer of a student workshop in macroeconomics and finance, and often provided helpful comments on the work of his classmates. 

    Students who would like help in dealing with this tragic news can contact UChicago Student Wellness. To schedule an appointment, for more information on the programs offered, or make any non-emergency inquiry, please call 773-702- 9800 or visit their website at http://wellness.uchicago.edu/.  

    My thoughts are with Yiran’s family and friends.  Information about a memorial will be shared once available.

    In sadness, 

    Robert Shimer

     


    Please also visit the University of Chicago website for more information and a full statement regarding this tragic loss. A candlelight vigil will be held in remembrance of Fan on Jan. 14 at 4 p.m. CST, with a live broadcast available on the UChicago News site.

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