Department News

In Memoriam: Xiaowei Wang

The Statistics Department was extremely saddened by the news that our PhD student Xiaowei Wang passed away before dawn on Wednesday, March 11th. In the fourth year of the doctoral program, he had spent the past few years in treatment for cancer yet made an impression on us all by being always cheerful and positive. Xiaowei was very dedicated to his research and classes and was an especially conscientious consultant in STATS 390. Xiaowei was beginning to work on his dissertation: his research focused on analysis of large datasets arising from single-cell profiling in leukemia, and he fervently hoped to make a difference for other cancer patients through his academic work. Even in the last few months, he continued to keep office hours as a teaching assistant. We are so sorry for him and his family and friends. We will miss him greatly.

  • Emmanuel Candes: Xiaowei was a fighter and he fought for as long as he could. The friendships he forged in the department and the intellectual stimulation you all provided meant a lot to him.

  • Paul Switzer: Xiaowei was part of my Statistical Consulting Workshop this past fall quarter. Despite relapses and an irregular treatment schedule he contributed however much he could to both client consulting and in our student group meetings. I will always remember Xiaowei as the noble, brave, and humble gentleman and statistician that he was.

  • Trevor Hastie: Xiaowei was a brave fighter and did not lose his spirit throughout this ordeal. I was always very happy to see him each time he returned to Sequoia, happy that he was determined not to give up everything to this disease.

The medical team at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital cared deeply about Xiaowei and his family during all their efforts to treat his condition. He shared with them how grateful he was to be able to continue his studies and teaching duties despite his illness, and he truly enjoyed and appreciated every moment of the time he was given. "Throughout the time he spent with us, Xiaowei did his very best to enjoy every day."

Addendum: In a letter addressed to the faculty and staff at Sequoia Hall, Xiaowei's parents wrote that "Stanford University had always been Xiaowei's dream school and Statistics his favorite subject." While his time here was too short and his illness prevented him from finishing the work he loved, he had done enough to qualify for a master's in statistics. The Dean's and Registrar's offices provided their unreserved support and his MS degree was awarded at the close of Winter Quarter, 2020. The Statistics Department was privileged to inform Xiaowei's mother and father that he had earned this degree in his favorite place, "which, for him, was as warm as the sunlight."