“He was a very nice guy,” said Bin Zhang G, a member of Zhou’s lab group. “He was really quiet ... he always showed his passion in a few words.”
Yuan Xiao G, another colleague, described him as “a quiet guy ... but he was ... brilliant.”
“He was also very warm-hearted,” said Feng Xiong G, who also worked with Zhou. “He liked to help other people. ... Even though he was very busy with his own work, he always responded immediately to other people’s requests.”
Zhou frequently played badminton and also enjoyed swimming, Xiong said. “He liked to be around friends,” Xiong said.
Xiao said Zhou also enjoyed classical music.
Zhou earned his Bachelor’s degree from the Department of Modern Physics at the University of Science and Technology of China in 1997, and his Master’s from the same department in 2000. He came to MIT in the fall of 2000 to work on his doctorate.
Zhou was a student under Professor William Bertozzi in MIT’s Laboratory for Nuclear Science. He had been working at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) in Newport News, Virginia since June 2001.
“He was sent by our group ... to do some experiments for his thesis,” Zhang said. “He was supposed to stay there for a couple of years.”
Zhou’s friends contacted the police on Thursday, January 10, after not seeing him for two days. He was found in dead in his room. The initial police report said he appeared to have died of natural causes, but the exact cause of death is not yet known.
An online memorial for Zhou has been set up at
Zhou is survived by his father, Tonghong Zhou; his mother, Shunhua Wang; and his younger brother, Jincheng Zhou.