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Caius PhD student tragically killed in terror attack

  • 15 August 2017

Caius PhD student Tammy Chen has been tragically killed in a terrorist attack in Burkina Faso.

The Master of Caius, Professor Sir Alan Fersht, and the entire Caius community are shocked and devastated at the news, and send deepest sympathy to Tammy's family and many friends. The College flag is flying at half mast today to mark her death.

Tammy, a Canadian, was finishing a PhD in International Development, focusing on poverty, gender and women's empowerment. Professor Fersht paid tribute to her as "an exceptional woman, very active in the Caius graduate community and passionate about her research and helping people. She had so much to offer the world and it is a tragedy for her to be lost so young." From 2011, Tammy co-founded and ran a Canadian registered charity called Bright Futures of Burkina Faso, which sought to extend both education and microcredits to women in some of the poorest parts of the world. During her time at Caius, she gave a memorable and inspiring talk to graduates and Fellows on how the shea butter industry was empowering women in Burkina Faso. She had recently married.

Caius Graduate Tutor Dr Jonathan Evans described Tammy as "a bright and enthusiastic student, and a warm and compassionate human being. She was determined to pursue her goals, undaunted by difficult and challenging circumstances, and driven by a constant desire to help others. Tammy enriched the life of everyone she met."

Caius MCR President Hugo Larose said: "I was devastated to hear about Tammy's loss. All of Tammy's friends echo that she was extraordinarily kind and caring, that she was the sort of person that the world sorely needs in times such as these, who would have made a real difference in this world, and whose loss will be sorely felt. Though many academics dedicate their life to improving the human condition, Tammy went many steps further, working tirelessly in the some of the poorest parts of the world. She was the heart and soul of our MCR during her years in Cambridge, and had many close friends here at Caius. We are all in shock."

Professor Fersht is writing to Tammy's family to convey the College's condolences. The Master will also raise funds for a Tammy Chen studentship to honour her memory.

At least 18 people were killed in the gun attack by suspected Islamist militants at a restaurant popular with foreigners in the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assault.

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