Home > In memorium, Recent News, UC Davis > Simon Chan (1974-2012)

Simon Chan (1974-2012)

It is with great regret that I (Daniël Melters, one of his graduate students) bring to you the death of Simon Chan.

More information will follow soon, other than he passed away in the presence of his beautiful and great family.

Simon’s bag as he brought is with him to the hospital. His work ethic never left, neither did his mental capacity.

Simon will be greatly missed.

Quick update: Regarding his condition. Simon had primary sclerosing cholangitis or PSC. A autoimmune disorder that he shared with olympic medalist Chris Klug. In contrast to Chris Klug, Simon was initially misdiagnosed. The correct treatment worked for the time being, but he needed a new liver either way, as that is the only realistic treatment available for PSC. As worst case scenarios happen, he was diagnosed with sepsis and after that with fungal pneumonia. At the end with combination of all that his body had to endure was too much and he died on August 22,2012 at the age of 38.

If you would like, please give your condolences to his parents and his sister and his family by responding to this blog entry. We will pass this on.

The In Memory by the Department of Plant Biology with many many comments as well: http://www.plb.ucdavis.edu/labs/srchan/

Simon’s lab webpage: http://chan.openwetware.org

Simon’s famous restaurant blog (read Jim Leff’s comment below): http://lowendrestaurants.blogspot.com/


One of his many academic accomplishments: http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=9425

Here is a talk by Simon Chan on the use of PacBio sequencing to study centromeres: http://aa314.o1.gondor.io/webinar/what-can-long-reads-tell-us-about-centromere-evolution/


Memories of Simon Chan by Keith Bradnam: http://keithbradnam.squarespace.com/blog/2012/8/27/my-memories-of-simon-chan.html

Tribute for Simon on the Paul Knoepfler lab blog: https://www.ipscell.com/2012/08/a-tribute-to-uc-davis-professor-simon-chan/

An obituary by UC Davis for Simon Chan: http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10312

Obituary in the Sacramento Bee: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/24/4754684/obituary-uc-davis-scientist-simon.html

UC Davis Designated Emphasis Biotechnology facebook: https://www.facebook.com/notes/uc-davis-biotechnology-program/in-memorium-prof-simon-chan-1974-2012/449570758421670

UC Davis facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UCDavis/posts/101918583292663

ScienceBlog.co.nz: http://sciblogs.co.nz/guestwork/2012/08/28/simon-chan-1974-2012-contagious-passion-for-science/


Here is Simon’s bio on the HHMI website: http://www.hhmi.org/news/chans_bg.html

Central Valley Business Times article on Simon: http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/stories/001/?ID=21758

Daily Democrat article on Simon: http://www.dailydemocrat.com/news/ci_21399016/ucds-simon-chan-make-plant-breakthroughs

On Jonathan Eisen’s blog: Simon presenting a poster to Bill Gates: http://phylogenomics.blogspot.com/2011/10/plos-picture-of-day-simon-chan-from.html

News article from New Zealand on Simon’s death: http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/auckland/news/nbnat/1503269274-top-kiwi-scientist-passes-away

New Zealand Herald: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10829940

Radio New Zealand News: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/114334/death-of-nz-scientist-in-united-states

  1. Ivan
    August 22, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    I am deeply saddened by this news. Simon was a charming man and a great scientist. My condolences to his family, his lab and te rest of the community.

  2. August 22, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    wow. condolences.

  3. Ted Toal
    August 22, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    I’m shocked, I didn’t know he was struggling with this. I’m so saddened and sorry. He was a really nice person, a very intelligent scientist, with tremendous promise from what I could see. I had been hoping to get to know him better.

  4. Beth Rowan
    August 23, 2012 at 12:16 am

    I met Simon only once while I was interviewing for a postdoc position at UC Davis. You rarely meet people for only a brief time that continue to make an impression on you years later. His work on doubled haploids is an immense contribution to agricultural science and basic plant biology. It is a shame to think of what he would have been able to accomplish if his career had not been cut short. He leaves behind a huge void. My heart goes out to his family.

  5. Liz Haswell
    August 23, 2012 at 2:19 am

    I am so, so sorry to hear this. What a great loss for all of us.

  6. June
    August 23, 2012 at 6:29 am

    I only talked to Simon once with my PI to discuss a potential cooperating project. At the time, he just got the HHMI award. I can’t believe it was just a year ago. I am sad to hear this. His passing away is a lost to the scientific community. He was great. My condolences to his family.

  7. August 23, 2012 at 6:30 am

    I am shocked! We had shared lab meetings, and he was so smart and so kind. He always had ideas and energy to spare. My condolences to his family and to the field, we lost a great man.

  8. Erick Loomis
    August 23, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Wow. Simon shaped the way I think about science and education in general. I always remember how much he smiled when he was teaching. My condolences to his family and his lab.

  9. Aunty Peng
    August 23, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Simon, you are one of a kind, my sister’s beloved son, my sweetest nephew, loved by all friends and family. I know you want us to be brave and happy. But how can we. You have left such a void, from the east to the west, in our heart. Your email a month ago was so encouraging and you wrote with great courage. I will miss you dearly. You will be remembered in our hearts – forever. No amounts of tears can wipe away the pain.

  10. Sathish
    August 23, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Its hard to believe. Great researcher!!!

  11. Andrew Hamilton
    August 23, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Poor Simon. I would never have guessed he labored under any sort of disorder, he was always so energetic and friendly. The LSA is a little darker now, but at least we got to know him for a while. Rest in peace, Simon.

  12. August 23, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Simon was not only great guy but also a great mind. He will be missed.
    My thoughts are with his family.

  13. Ken Kaplan
    August 23, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Simon was a fantastic colleague, a bright star at UC Davis and in the world of chromosome biology. I will miss his constant enthusiasm for great science and his insights. My sincere condolences to his family. He will be missed.

  14. Aiza
    August 23, 2012 at 8:11 am

    This is very sad, my condolences. The world lost one of the brightest young scientists

  15. David Morgan
    August 23, 2012 at 8:40 am

    I knew Simon as a student here at UCSF and I remember him fondly as one of the brightest and most positive people I have ever met. This is truly heartbreaking news, and his family and many friends have my deepest sympathies.

  16. Jixian Zhai
    August 23, 2012 at 8:50 am

    This is so sad… Simon is one of the brightest scientists I’ve ever met. It’s such a loss to the community and to the world. He will be greatly missed by many people. My condolences to his family.

  17. Fred Chedin
    August 23, 2012 at 9:01 am

    There’s just no word to express the sadness.., Simon was a fantastic colleague, friend, and a role model to many. His enthusiasm for life, science, teaching, was contagious. His intellect and broad knowledge of biology was unrivaled. He will be missed so much by so many… my heart is very heavy. Please pass on my most heartfelt condolences to his family.

  18. Natraj
    August 23, 2012 at 9:21 am

    It is a very sad news, the World lost a great scientist…my condolences to his family. May his sole rest in peace.

  19. Sue Nichol
    August 23, 2012 at 9:23 am

    This is a very sad day for all of us in PLB here at Davis. My condolences to his family. Simon will be greatly missed.

  20. Dominique Bergmann
    August 23, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Simon was that magnificent combination of brilliant scientist, concerned world citizen and enthusiastic enjoyer of all that life has to offer. I am truly saddened to hear of his passing. My heartfelt condolences to his family and colleagues.

  21. Emily Walsh
    August 23, 2012 at 9:25 am

    I knew Simon at UCSF and apart from his intellect, I’ll remember him for his sparkle and enthusiasm. So sad to hear of this.

  22. Abby Dernburg
    August 23, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Simon was such a breath of fresh air – an exceptionally generous, funny, and lovely colleague. I am so saddened by this news. My condolences to his family, his lab, and his community at Davis for this untimely loss.

  23. Keith Bradnam
    August 23, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Our lab has been working with Simon ever since he moved to UC Davis. What started as a
    professional collaboration, turned into a personal friendship and in the last few years
    Simon and I both played in the same band. Dare I say that his passion and talent for music
    almost matched his passion and talent for science?

    My overriding memory of Simon was that he always saw the positives in everything and in
    everyone. A meeting with Simon always left you feeling in a good mood and his boundless
    enthusiasm for science and for life had a great motivational effect on everyone around

    If I hadn’t of known Simon I might reflect at this point that UC Davis is worse off
    without him, but instead I’ll take a Simon-like attitude by saying that UC Davis has been
    made a better place *because* of his time here.

    R.I.P. Simon Chan. You will be dearly missed by all of us who have known you.

  24. Dan Starr
    August 23, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Simon was an amazing colleague, a great scientist, and a wonderful person. He will be missed

  25. paulknoepfler
    August 23, 2012 at 9:29 am

    My condolences to all who were close to Simon.
    What a positive, wonderful person he was on so many levels including outside of science. I will miss him.

  26. Connie Champagne
    August 23, 2012 at 9:34 am

    My heart aches with this news.

  27. Mel Bradnam
    August 23, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Simon’s energy, love for life, and compassion was infectious, genuine, and rare. I feel so lucky to have known him. To his family, words can’t express how sorry I am for your loss. My thoughts are with you, but I also thank you for helping to make Simon the person he was and giving us the opportunity to have known such an incredible human being. Simon, you will be dearly missed.

  28. Denneal Jamison-McClung
    August 23, 2012 at 9:52 am

    I am so saddened to hear this news. Deepest condolence’s to Simon’s family, friends and students. Spikey hair, Converse shoes, brilliant mind – he will be missed by many!

  29. Rich Jorgensen
    August 23, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Such a terrible loss. Simon was a wonderful person and brilliant scientist, He will be dearly missed by all of us who had the great pleasure to have known him.

  30. Charmaine Robinson
    August 23, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I had the wonderful opportunity to TA for Simon several times and it was a pleasure working with him. My heart truly goes out to his family and friends during this time, he most definitely left his mark and will be greatly missed…

  31. Neelima Sinha
    August 23, 2012 at 10:18 am

    We will all miss Simon so much. He was a wonderful colleague, a rare intellect, and such a great friend. Will miss his enthusiasm for science, life, music, movies, food, people and the world in general.

  32. Leena Tripathi
    August 23, 2012 at 10:18 am

    I am really shocked to know this sad news. My condolences to his family.

  33. Colleen Sweeney
    August 23, 2012 at 10:24 am

    I served on a committee with Simon and was so impressed with his sweet nature. My sincere sympathies to his family and friends.

  34. Kasia Koscielska
    August 23, 2012 at 10:30 am

    This is terrible, sad news. Simon was such a kind and friendly person. Deepest condolences from my family to his.

  35. scott jackson
    August 23, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Deeply saddened to hear of Simon’s passing. He was a force of nature:) Full of energy, enthusiasm and ideas. I always enjoyed talking to him and had great fun with him in Taos this past Spring…sharing road-side stand tamales. Simon will be greatly missed. My condolences to his family.

  36. Alan Raetz
    August 23, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Simon was a great role model for how to do science. With his energetic enthusiasm in the lab, he always promoted a fun and open environment for sharing thoughts and ideas. My short rotation in his lab taught me so much. I will not forget him. Rest in peace.

  37. Keiko Torii
    August 23, 2012 at 10:35 am

    I am deeply saddened by this tragedy. He was a very special person, both scientifically and person-wise. Such a sweet and amazing fellow. I last met him at the HHMI HQ; he was full of ideas, excitements, and energy for his future research direction as an HHMI-GBMF investigator. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and colleagues & students at UC-Davis

  38. Brian Crawford
    August 23, 2012 at 10:39 am

    So sorry to hear this news. Condolences to his family.

  39. Arshad Desai
    August 23, 2012 at 10:41 am

    This is truly tragic and saddening news. I had the pleasure of talking with Simon multiple times during his initial foray into the centromere field and the delight of watching his group’s discoveries illuminate fundamental aspects of centromere biology. I was just reading his recently published illuminating review on holocentric chromosomes when I heard this terrible news. My deepest condolences to his family, his friends, the members of his group, and the Davis scientific community.

  40. Maggie Bostick
    August 23, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I have known Simon since my postdoctoral interview at UCLA. He was supportive of me that first night and continued to be afterwards. I was lucky to have Simon as my colleague, but luckier to have him as my friend. I will miss him greatly.

  41. Dana Smith
    August 23, 2012 at 10:45 am

    What a great loss. I first knew Simon as a graduate student in the Blackburn Lab and recently got to reconnect with him at a conference. I will miss Simon’s delighted laugh, his skeptical frown, his genuine curiosity about all things. My heart goes out to his family.

  42. hfgwang@ucdavis.edu
    August 23, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I am deeply shocked by this news. He looked so energetic all the time. R.I.P… Deep condolences to his family.

  43. Gregory Copenhaver
    August 23, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I knew Simon for years. He always made me smile. He was brilliant and funny and kind and I’ll miss him very much.

  44. Christian Santa Maria
    August 23, 2012 at 10:55 am

    I was one of the first undergraduate students Simon took into his lab. My career wouldnt be where it is without his mentorship. Tremendously sad news for his family and close friends. I am truly grateful to have interacted with a scientist like Simon.

  45. Sue Biggins
    August 23, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Simon impressed me from the minute he started graduate school at UCSF. He was not only a great scientist, but most importantly a kind, thoughtful and gracious person. My thoughts to his family and all his friends and colleagues. We will all miss him tremendously.

  46. PeterD
    August 23, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I knew Simon when he was at UCLA. He was extraordinarily bright, active, and very positive. This is terrible news and I am deeply saddened. My condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

  47. Elva Diaz
    August 23, 2012 at 11:10 am

    I first met Simon when we were both graduate students in the early 90’s and our lives have crossed paths many times since then. He was a good friend and colleague. I will miss the meals that we shared over the years as well as his passion and enthusiasm for food, music, and science. With a heavy heart I say good bye to Simon, gone but not forgotten.

  48. Peggy Farnham
    August 23, 2012 at 11:19 am

    I have many wonderful memories of Simon, including serving on student committee meetings, discussing crazy experiments, talking with him at the Saturday Farmer’s Market, and, of course, enjoying listening to the band practice in our garage. He will be greatly missed.

  49. August 23, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Simon Chan was one of the most talented, honest, and kind individuals that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Simon spent several years in my laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow and he left his mark on our lab and our lives. He was also one of the most promising young plant biologists of this generation, and his achievements have made me so proud. I feel honored to have had the time with him that I was blessed with. His loss is devastating so many levels. To Simon’s family, I am so sorry for your loss, and please know that your son was loved by all who knew him.

  50. Sue Jaspersen
    August 23, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Simon was the very first graduate student I ever had the chance to supervise back when we were both students at UCSF. Simon probably taught me more than I ever taught him. He was a great scientist and friend. I am deeply saddened to hear this devastating news, and my sympathies go out to his family, lab and colleagues at Davis.

  51. Carole Hom
    August 23, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I am so very sorry to hear this. Simon was a gift to us all. My deepest condolences to his family, lab, and friends.

  52. Elizabeth Long
    August 23, 2012 at 11:43 am

    This is incredibly sad news. Simon was a truly wonderful and inspiring person. Brilliant, kind, joyful, friendly, and so interesting and fun to talk to. What a huge and terrible loss. My sincerest condolences.

  53. Yolanda
    August 23, 2012 at 11:54 am

    All your comments deepen my love for Simon, and make me even prouder to have him as my cousin. It means a lot to hear how Simon’s love of life and science was experienced by others and how he’s left such an impact on so many students, friends and colleagues. You were so lucky to have gotten to work with him on a day-to-day basis! I remember last time he visited, he played us “Angel from Montgomery” on his ukelele 🙂 As you know, music was another one of his passions he was amazingly talented in. He is an inspiration for all of us.

  54. Angelina
    August 23, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Simon, you really left your mark on Davis. One of my favorite memories of you is when you had just completed the Davis Double Century. You were surrounded by tons of cyclist all decked out in their finest gear, but true to yourself, you were in regular shorts and t-shirt and your iconic Converse shoes. You impressed me that day as you would on countless other occasions. While many will remember your science, I will remember your music, your awesome spiky hair, your tropical shirts and your fantastic smile. Our hearts go out to your family. May you rest peacefully.

  55. Cliff Weil
    August 23, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    This is really sad news. Simon was a great guy, in addition to an outstanding scientist and I enjoyed every interaction with him I had. This is a real loss. My very sincere condolences to his family

  56. Pradeepa Bandaranayake
    August 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    This is truly heartbreaking news. Simon was a wonderful teacher and a brilliant scientist. Deepest condolences to Simon’s family, friends and students.

  57. Ilias Tagkopoulos
    August 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Kind, good-hearted, intelligent. My condolences to his family, we are very sad of your loss. We were robbed of a wonderful colleague and friend. Davis is a poorer place… Rest in peace, Simon.

  58. Charles Nicolet
    August 23, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    My heartfelt condolences to Simon’s family. Not only was he a great scientist and person, he was an AWESOME bass player! He always had that look of total immersion–eyes half closed, head bobbing in time, creating and riding the groove. It was a privilege to know and to play with him.

  59. Tomoyuki Furukawa
    August 23, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    R.I.P., Simon. You were really one of the talented scientists I have ever met and also a nice friend for me. I am proud of working with you at the same department in UCD. My deepest condolences to his lab members, friends, and family.

  60. August 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Simon enriched every conversation he participated in. His insight, humor, and joyful attitude were inspiring and contagious. His too early departure is a huge loss to his friends, the campus, the scientific community, and the world as a whole. I am very glad that I had the opportunity to interact with him in a small way. My most sincere condolences to his family.

  61. Elaine Tobin
    August 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    His death means the loss of a great scientist and, even more importantly, of a wonderful person. I am saddened to learn of his death.

  62. Li Tian
    August 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Simon was and will always be an inspiration to us. Words cannot express how sad I am to hear of his passing. My deepest condolences to Simon’s family.

  63. Lisa Smith
    August 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    So very sad and shocked to hear of Simon’s passing. I only had the good fortune to meet Simon this year, although I have known of his excellent work for many years. He was so enthusiastic and kind, a real pleasure to talk to. His loss is a heavy blow for plant sciences and I am sure he will be greatly missed by the whole community. My deepest condolences to his family.

  64. Amanda Kahn-Kirby
    August 23, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Sincere condolences to the Chan family, and Simon’s extended family at UC Davis. Simon and I were grad students together at UCSF. Simon read widely, thought deeply, shared generously, and spoke with uncommon eloquence.

  65. Cynthia Fuhrmann
    August 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I am shocked and saddened by this new. Simon was a friend and role model as I began my first rotation at UCSF in the Blackburn lab. His determination, love for science, and enthusiasm for life will always stay with me.

  66. Paul Ginno
    August 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Simon was a brilliant, kind man and it was a great pleasure to have had several interactions with him. I was fortunate to work him as a grader, and he gave me very insightful suggestions for my thesis work. His enthusiasm for Science, sense of humor and creativity were infectious. Simon will be sorely missed. My deepest heartfelt condolences to his family for the loss of such a wonderful person.

  67. August 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    I loved Simon so much. He changed my career and my life. You were from another planet simon, where are all the people are beautiful geniuses who glow from all the amazingness inside them. Thank you for crossing my path.

  68. Pepe Gutierrez-Marcos
    August 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Simon is a truly amazing person and scientist. My deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers are with the family.

  69. Ravi Palanivelu
    August 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    I am so heart broken, shocked, grief-stricken, and helpless on hearing this terrible news. My sincere condolences to Simon’s family and all who knew Simon. He was a great scientist who conveyed his ideas with great ease and eloquence. He was even a greater person who had a great flair for life, possessed unlimited enthusiasm and positive energy, very kind and generous in offering help to others, and always lit up the room with a big, trademark smile. His contributions to plant sciences and public at large is immense and it was all just starting. It so unfair to be cut short this abruptly. He was a great host when I visited UC Davis in 2008 and I will always treasure the advice he offered me that was simultaneously so insightful and helpful. He will be sorely missed.

  70. Christelle Sabatier
    August 23, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    I remember Simon fondly from our graduate days at UCSF. He was an amazing individual and will be greatly missed.

  71. August 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I am completely devastated by this. Simon was my favorite person at all of UC Davis. Brilliant. Funny. Interesting. Passionate. Considerate. Every interaction with him left me invigorated for science and for life. Davis, UC Davis, California, and the world is a much poorer place without him.

  72. Pablo Jenik
    August 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    This are extremely sad news. I met Simon briefly when we had the same post-doc fellowship, and last year at a meeting. A funny, really bright and generous guy. My condolences to all his friends and family.

  73. Jean-Philippe Vielle-Calzada
    August 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    On behalf of all members of the Group of Reproductive Development and Apomixis at CINVESTAV Mexico, I would like to express our sincere condolences to his family, including the members of his lab. All of us tremendously enjoyed the presence of Simon in our scientific practice and daily life, through the passion we share with him for plant biology. We are going to miss him a lot.

  74. Julin Maloof
    August 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    One of the things that I have been thinking about is how enriched my life is for having known Simon. I learned so much from Simon in science, music, travel, dining, and more. It is wonderful to have known him. It is so sad to be without him.

  75. Juan-Jose Ripoll
    August 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    My deepest condolences to his family and friends.

  76. Milton T. S. Mong
    August 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    That Simon is well-liked I’m not surprised. That he is well-respected as an inspiring teacher and a talented scientist – wow! – that makes me mighty proud as an uncle. We had been blessed that he was born into our family. Thank you all for your kind thoughts and praises.

  77. Ian Korf
    August 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    In my opinion, Simon did everything the right way. He had passion, insight, perseverance, energy, and a unfailing moral compass. He was an inspiration. I think everyone who ever had any contact with him came away a better person. I feel very lucky to have worked and played with such an wonderful colleague and friend.

  78. Xuehua Zhong
    August 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Words seem inadequate to express my deepest sadness. I met Simon several times in the meeting and he always spoke very fast with full of energy and ideas. He remembered everybody’s name and knew what s/he is doing. He was very positive and always gave tons of insightful suggestions. Simon, you have shown the world how special you are. You are always my role model and will be deeply missed.

  79. Rima Mendonsa
    August 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    I, like many others, am shocked and saddened by Simon’s passing. I worked with him briefly as a grader while he was teaching some years ago, and I found him efficient, friendly, and engaging. Some of my former classmates were also his proteges, and I knew of his strong commitment to science, his work ethic, and his enthusiasm for research. He was taken far too young and far too soon, and he will be missed by many at UC Davis.

  80. Xiao Li
    August 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    I am deeply depressed by the fact that Simon, so talent and passionate scientist, passed away from us forever. 8 months ago I am in San Diego where I firstly met him in person from a talk. He’s so young, and talented… Sorry for that. Hope he enjoys it in heaven.

  81. August 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I can still barely wrap my head around the fact that Simon has died. He was not only co-mentor, but also a friend to me. I cannot recall a single meeting with him where we discuss more than just my projects. He was always full of life, positive about everything and making plans for the future. He helped me plan my future for as far as he could. He always showed interest in what was going on my life. His drive to succeed in science was outstanding. If you would send him an email at 3am at night, he would often reply within minutes. He would also fall asleep during talks, but wake up in the middle and ask a relevant and to-the-point question.
    He was an amazing guy and I am honoured to have not only known him, but also that he was my mentor. I wish he could have been there when I graduate in the near future, but it is not to be.
    Simon, you will be greatly missed.

  82. Carey Li
    August 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    I am thankful to have known Simon. He had inspired me to become a better scientist and deeper critical thinker. His absence is greatly felt and he is already deeply missed. My condolences to his loving family.

  83. Rob Meister
    August 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    I am very sad to hear of this news – I met Simon this last spring at a conference and truly enjoyed his insights, enthusiasm, and scientific rigor. A true loss to our small plant science community.

  84. Gaby Pagnussat
    August 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    I feel so sad and shocked on hearing this terrible news, it is hard to believe. I always remember him with a great smile and eager to talk about science on his very enthusiastic way. It was a honor and a pleasure to meet him. He will be dearly missed. My condolences to his family.

  85. Alvaro Sagasti
    August 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Simon was an amazing friend for 16 years. His exceptional kindness, keen scientific mind, and immense capacity for humor and joy will be greatly missed by me, and by many, many others. I feel lucky to have known him. Simon spoke often of his profound admiration for his parents, sister, brother-in-law, and nieces. My deepest condolences to his family.

  86. matteo pellegrini
    August 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Simon was a fantastic scientist and human being! this has been unbelievably tragic. A terrible loss for his family, friends and colleagues. My deepest condolences to his family.

  87. Danelle Seymour
    August 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    I met Simon as a graduate student at UC Davis. Although he wasn’t my primary advisor, he took the time to meet with me every week or two to discuss our work. His patience, encouragement, and enthusiasm for science will never be forgotten. Simon had a huge impact on me and the way that I think about science. He was an amazing teacher, mentor, and friend. I am thankful to have known him, he will be truly missed.

  88. Michelle Tu
    August 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    My sincerest condolences to all who were close to Simon. His great energy, brilliance, and positive impact on the UC Davis community will be greatly missed.

  89. Dawei Lin
    August 23, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    It was a complete shock when I learned during a meeting today. I felt sad and empty. A few years ago, we first met at the UC Davis Genome Center. He wanted to send me some information to follow up our conversation. To help him remember it, he wrote a note right on the back of his hand. I was touched by the simple gesture of sincereness. He is such a good friend and talented scientist. I will forever miss his signature smile and the soft but energetic voice. Love!

  90. Pat O'Farrell
    August 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    I had the pleasure of teaching Simon in graduate school and derived great satisfaction from seeing him excel in his career. He made us proud and his passing leaves me with great sadness. My condolences to all who were close to him.

  91. August 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Our team at Pacific Biosciences is terribly saddened by the tragic loss of Dr. Chan. He was a brilliant young scientist and wonderful person with boundless energy, vision and enthusiasm. Our condolences to his family, colleagues,and friends.

  92. David Caldwell
    August 23, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Simon was truly a unique and vibrant individual. He had an un-wavering passion for the scientific endeavor, a great perspective on life, was amazingly altruistic & honest. And who can forget those wonderfully infectious smiles. This is a loss for not only science, but for humanity as well. I am a better person for having known him.

  93. Cecilia Osorio
    August 23, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    My dear Simon, your passing saddens me today. You taught me to pay attention to the “slope of my learning curve”; I promise that in memory of you I will continue to do so. In 38 years you accomplished a life time of achievements and you did it at the only pace you knew, Superman fast! May your soul be resting in the arms of your creator and may you be looking down with satisfaction at all that you did and how well you did it.

  94. August 23, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    My heartfelt condolences go out to Simon’s family. What a terrible, tragic loss. Simon was a remarkable and special person in so many ways. Smart, funny, and as enthusiastic about the work of others as he was about his own work. He was always thinking, always eager to chat, and always positive. With that amazing grin of his, you just had to smile back. I admired Simon tremendously, both as a scientist and as a person. Simon’s star was still rising, but already bright, and will shine in our memories.

  95. August 23, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    I knew Simon from our graduate school days at UCSF. He was always so fun to talk to and not just because of his charming accent and wit. Simon was such a smart and sweet person. We will miss him dearly.

  96. Sep
    August 23, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    As a student of Simon… this is just unbelievable. He taught us with a force, determined and relentless. I am lucky to have met and been touched by Simon. His tragic loss will echo in the field. My best goes to Simon’s family, rest in peace teacher.

  97. Dazhong (Dave) Zhao
    August 23, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    My deepest condolences! I did not know Simon personally. I am so admired of his achievements in science. He will be always a shining star.

  98. Eduardo Blumwald
    August 23, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Such a great loss! I interacted with Simon a bit and learn a big deal from him. He was such a great scientist and colleague…. He will be missed by all of us.

  99. Michael Neff
    August 23, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    My sincere condolences to Simon’s family. This is a great loss. I first met Simon at the new faculty orientation, shortly after we both arrived at Davis. It was always a great joy when I’d see him in the years since and we’d have a chance to chat. I remember well his intelligence, enthusiasm and compassion.

  100. Harmit Malik
    August 23, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Simon was one of a kind. An amazing scientist and perhaps even more amazing person. My sincere condolences to all those who were close to him. He will be missed dearly by all those who knew him.

  101. Shivani Nautiyal
    August 23, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    I am very saddened to hear of Simon’s passing. I knew him as a graduate student; he was always very sharp and extremely passionate about everything he did. One of the qualities I really admired him for was his love for his family. He spoke of them frequently and always with great fondness. I remember him talking about the wonderful food they prepared including noodles on birthdays and how proud he was of his sister’s accomplishments. My deepest condolences to his family.

  102. Matt Holland
    August 23, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    I am so deeply saddened by the news of Simon’s passing. We played in a band together, and his kindness, humor, intellect, and generosity never ceased to amaze me. He let me play his prized vintage saxophones. He had perfect pitch, but wasn’t too proud to play a cheap plywood bass out by the pool. My sincere condolences.

  103. Karun
    August 23, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    We all lost a great scientist and human being. I was so blessed to talk to Simon few times and ispired me as many experienced.
    We are going to miss you a lot!!!!!!

  104. Govind Shah
    August 23, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    I met Simon as an undergrad at UCLA when he was a postdoc. Simon became my first mentor in science and inspired me to pursue scientific research for the good of humanity. He was an excellent role model… smart, hardworking, kind and enthusiastic. He has obviously gone on to mentor many more people in the last six years. And while his passing is a devastating loss for man kind, he has left us with a precious gift–the inspiration to be the best that we can be.

  105. Aaron Straight
    August 23, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Simon was such a wonderful person and such an important part of the scientific community. From his graduate student days to the present he has been a groundbreaking scientist, a perennially positive individual and a friend. I am so sad to hear about his passing away and my deepest sympathy and condolences to his family and friends.

  106. Jai
    August 23, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    I am very sad to hear this news. I have met Simon in last June. I have noticed yellow coloration in his neck and face so I have inquired about his health. He assured me nothing to worry. Even I have suggested him take care of your health not only devote all your time to science. This is great loss for family as well as science. He was great scientist. We will surely miss him. My condolences to his parents and sister!!!

  107. Georgia Drakakaki
    August 23, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Simon was a brilliant scientist, a kind person and a generous colleague. He enriched our lives and then he left. Rest in peace Simon. My deepest condolences to Simon’s family.

  108. Carol Anderson
    August 23, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear this! Simon was a mentor to me when I was a beginning graduate student in the Blackburn lab. I learned so much from him about working with yeast and telomeres. I still think of his description of a “mexican hat” every time I pick a yeast zygote. My heart goes out to his family and friends.

  109. August 23, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    I am deeply shocked and saddened to hear of Simon Chan’s passing – my condolences to his family, lab, UC Davis, and the larger community that loved him. We enjoyed sharing our enthusiasm and ideas for biology (particularly the paradoxes of chromosome evolution), but also travel, cycling, food, music… or whatever was going on at the time as Simon was passionate about all of life! His success as a brilliant scientist, positive energy, humility, and smiling inspiration were a truly rare combination.

  110. Maria Gallegos
    August 23, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    I was devastated and shocked by the news of Simon’s death. We met at UCSF. In my eyes, he was effortlessly good, a kind and generous person, a scientist with unwavering integrity and so much positive energy!

    Simon, you touched many people’s hearts including mine. I am so sad that I did not get a chance to say goodbye. I will think of you when I play my guitar with the tuner you gave me so many years ago.

  111. Ron Menorca
    August 24, 2012 at 12:19 am

    I am truly honored to have had the opportunity to work in Simon’s lab. It was very kind of him to be patient with a bumbling undergrad as myself. His love for science was incredibly contagious and I can sincerely say that I would not have been fortunate enough to get close to realizing my dream of becoming a doctor without all of his unending help and support. I wish I had the opportunity to tell him that in person, but I was saving it for when I graduated. I’m so devastated that I won’t have that chance anymore. All my condolences to his family.

  112. Ian Hunter
    August 24, 2012 at 12:40 am

    I offer my sincere sympathies to the family of such telented and gifted young man. I have great memories of Simon as a young student in Auckland. The world has lost a treasure.

  113. Pauline E Jullien
    August 24, 2012 at 2:32 am

    i m deeply sorry to hear about simon death. Simon was a great scientist and a great person, please pass my regards to his friend and family. It was a pleasure to interact with him for the last 7 years.

  114. ken mburu
    August 24, 2012 at 3:03 am

    Simon was a brilliant scientist and its sad that he has left us. may the almighty lord rest his soul in eternal peace

  115. Maggie's mom
    August 24, 2012 at 4:35 am

    Simon was my daughter’s friend. Since I am not of the world of science the stories she shared with me usually involved his love of food. Simon was so full of life that this slim connection touched me greatly. So I say enjoy a good and adventurous meal in celebration and memory of Simon.

  116. Ramesh
    August 24, 2012 at 6:21 am

    It is indeed extremely sad to learn this. I met Simon at various conferences in the past two years, the most recent being in February at a conference in Melbourne. What always struck me was the fact that at each conference he had exciting and new data to share of his fantastic research. He was enthusiastic to share to knowledge and every time I chatted with him I came away knowing I learnt something new and I was in the presence of a great mind. My condolences to his family, colleagues and lab members.

  117. Randi Jenkins
    August 24, 2012 at 8:27 am

    This is tragic. Simon was an amazing human being. I’m very grateful that I had the chance to know him and learn from him. My sympathies and thoughts go to Simon’s parents and sister. He will be so deeply missed.

  118. Manuel Calderon de la Barca
    August 24, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Simon, you were like a magician. And the best part was that you shared this magic freely wih all those around you. Your passion for life, for science, for music, food, and for people simply exuded from you, touching those close and leaving us feeling all the better after being with you. The pixie dust you spread wherever you went is like a seed that will remain in all of those whose lives you touched.

  119. Kate Creasey
    August 24, 2012 at 9:24 am

    I am so very sorry and saddened by the news. I met Simon at a meeting where we discussed science whilst trying every dessert/sweet available at lunch. He was a fantastic and genuine person. My deepest sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues.

  120. T. S. Mong
    August 24, 2012 at 9:46 am

    One thing that sticks in my mind about Simon (I’m an uncle from his mother’s side) is that he never failed to say ‘Thank you’ ever so readily, effortlessly and naturally. And sometimes he repeated it — like a prayer. It reminds me of what Meister Eckhart has said: “If the only prayer you say in your whole life is ‘Thank you’, that would suffice.” Simon had been saying his “‘thank you’ prayer” all his life! I can see Simon now, as he reads this blog, smiling and saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for your loving thoughts.”

  121. Keith Bradnam
    August 24, 2012 at 9:57 am

    In addition to this beautiful stream of wonderful thoughts and memories about Simon, there is also a memorandum page from his home department here: http://www.plb.ucdavis.edu/labs/sundar/

    Additionally, UC Davis published Simon’s obituary today: http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10312

    I’ve been blown away by the realization that Simon has had such an amazing positive effect on *everybody* he ever came into contact with, no matter how fleetingly. I hope we can all continue to carry a little piece of Simon within us all.

    • August 24, 2012 at 10:37 am

      Thank you for the links, Keith.

  122. Zain Syed
    August 24, 2012 at 10:02 am

    What a tragic loss.. I met Simon only a few time while I was at UCDavis. He was so full of life, enthusiasm and curiosity. What a loss!

  123. Vignesh M
    August 24, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Its very hard to believe..world lost a great scientist..may his soul rest in peace..my deepest condolences to his family..

  124. Siobhan
    August 24, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Simon – we miss you. It still doesn’t feel real. He was an amazing friend, mentor, colleague and made a huge impact on my life and happiness at Davis. I always learned from him, and enjoyed sharing our love for food, meals, music, Mondavi Center shows and scientific discussions…

  125. Xinnian Dong
    August 24, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Dear Simon,
    I just received the cenh3 mutant seed sent by your postdoc on your behalf today. It is so hard to believe that you have left us. Even though we only met once briefly at an airport on our way to a conference, your enthusiasm towards science made a long lasting impression on me. I have been thinking about using the haploid system developed in your lab for a long time, but never got a chance to contact you until this Tuesday. I am glad that I had a chance to express my admiration to your work and my best wishes to you before your passing. You will now continue to live in our hearts and through the great discoveries you made.

  126. JC Jang
    August 24, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Simon’s gentle soul and brilliance will be forever missed.

  127. Gitta Coaker
    August 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    I am deeply saddened by this news. Simon was a wonderful colleague and friend. He had incredible enthusiasm for science and the arts. When I started at UC Davis he was very supportive and we shared great times together as Assistant Professors. In the short time he was at UC Davis, he made an incredible impact in the field of plant biology and personal impacts on many others.

  128. Imran Siddiqi
    August 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    I always looked forward to discussions with Simon, of which I had the privilege and pleasure to have had several over the last five years, and the joyful exuberance that always emanated from this remarkable and rare person. I feel an enormous sense of loss at his passing and he will be greatly missed. My deepest condolences to his parents, sister, and all his family.

  129. karen zito
    August 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    When I think of Simon, I think of one of my favorite jazz albums, Hank Mobley’s “No Room for Squares” – beyond Simon’s incredible talent as a jazz saxophonist, it is due to his refusal to settle for anything less than exceptional in every aspect of his life. He was a truly great friend and colleague. I know that he will always be in my thoughts and serving to inspire me.

  130. Shai Lawit
    August 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    I regret that I only had a couple of opportunities to interact with Simon at conferences. His enthusiasm and brilliance will be greatly missed. His family, close friends and colleagues all have my deepest condolences.

  131. August 24, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Simon helped lead a seminar on improving the freshman biology curriculum. He gently but firmly pushed the seminar participants to empathize with the students who would be on the receiving end of our creations. We have lost an true educator.

    I am devastated.

  132. QueeLim Ch'ng
    August 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Simon is a great friend of many years and many meals. I miss him deeply and dearly. Such kindness, intellect, passion and humanity. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family.

  133. Arash Komeili
    August 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    What a devastating loss. I met Simon when we were interviewing for graduate school and was fortunate enough to have him as a classmate at UCSF. He was genuinely excited about science and was always willing to engage in scientific discussions in a deep and positive way. I was lucky enough to see him a few times since he started his lab at Davis where he was doing some incredible work. He was a unique thinker but never pretentious and always willing to encourage others. We will miss you Simon.

  134. cliff hunter
    August 24, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    This is so sad. Our condolences.

    SImon was a Gentleman and a brilliant scholar. It’s such a shame that we will not have the opportunity to interact with him agian. It brings in to sharp contrast the fragility of life and how Simon was able to contribute so much in such a short time.

    Thank you Simon.

  135. August 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    RIP Simon. We only met once for a few days in Strasbourg last year, but you were the soul of the party. You were brilliant, yet wore your learning lightly. Profound, yet irreverent. You achieved more than most of us do in a lifetime, and touched our lives in so many ways. Thanks.

  136. August 24, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Just thought people might like to see this. Simon presented a poster to Bill Gates recently and he sent me a pic of it to post to my blog. He did this because he was wearing a Public LIbrary of Science (PLoS) Tshirt when talking to Gates and he knew I was a bit obsessed with PLoS http://phylogenomics.blogspot.com/2011/10/plos-picture-of-day-simon-chan-from.html

  137. Pak Kwong
    August 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    I enjoyed every moment I worked with Simon. He was a brilliant scientist and a wonderful mentor. During the two years I spent in his lab, not only he taught me all the great things about science, he encouraged me to become a more outgoing person. I wish he could see me finishing my PhD study. I miss you, Simon.

  138. Aunt Anna (Canada)
    August 25, 2012 at 7:28 am

    I’m glad that I had married Simon’s uncle and I can legitimately claim Simon as my
    nephew. To me, Simon is a brilliant renaissance scientist with a heart of gold. Yes, food was one of Simon’s passions. I’m so glad that whenever Simon and Avril, Robert and Caron
    visited us I always cooked a storm of Malaysian dishes for them, and, of course, I kept
    hearing ‘Thank you Aunty’ from Simon. Simon, my dearest nephew, I will never forget you as long as I live. I’m saying it through my tears.

  139. Aunt Anna (Canada)
    August 25, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I am glad that I am married to Simon’s uncle and I can legitimately claim Simon as my nephew. To me, Simon was a renaissance man, a brilliant scientist with a heart of gold. It was common family knowledge that he loved to eat. Whenever Simon and family visited us I would prepare a storm of Malaysian food for them. And in return Simon would say, “Thank you, Auntie” is such a manner that is unforgettable. He will always live in my heart. I shall never forget him.

  140. Guy Moloney
    August 25, 2012 at 8:42 am

    I am Simon’s brother-in-law, husband to his sister and father to his adored nieces. I had the delight of knowing Simon wholly through the prism of his wonderful, wonderful family. I had very limited insight into his professional world, so it is both deeply gratifying and horribly tragic to read these messages.

    I will try to write a few words where there could be thousands. I will miss the comfort, delight and immense pride he gave to his family, The joy he brought them was bottomless and a privilege to witness first-hand.

    Hold in your head all you remember of Simon and all you’ve read here. Now imagine him as an uncle to 2 bright, curious and musical girls, with one of whom he shared a birthday. It shatters my heart to think he will no longer be a living presence in their lives. To pick one example, he knew our 3 year old, Clara, loved Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. Not only had he downloaded it on his kindle for her to read when we met on holiday earlier this year, he sent her the ultimate Uncle Simon present – a pair of size 3 Green Eggs and Ham Converse sneakers.

    Clara is still drawing pictures to send to Uncle Simon to make him feel better.

    If you wish to know the seat of Simon’s awesomeness, introduce yourself to his parents and sister. No-one can touch what they are going through right now.

    We are undone by grief.

    • Milton Mong
      August 26, 2012 at 7:53 am

      Guy, I can feel what you feel — “that great absence in our lives.” Sometimes I feel that God is speaking to me through the life of Simon.

      — Milton Mong, Caron’s uncle in Canada

  141. Aunt Anna (Canada)
    August 25, 2012 at 11:41 am

    I’m glad that I had married to Simon’s uncle and I can legitimately claim Simon as my nephew. To me, Simon was a brilliant scientist and a renaissance man with a heart of gold. It’s common knowledge in our family that Simon loved to eat. Whenever Simon and his family visited us, I would cook up a storm of Malaysian dishes. The way Simon said “Thank you Auntie” is unforgettable . Simon emailed me in May this and asked, “Is it alright if my parents and I visit you and Uncle from August 16 to 20?” I told him the red carpet was ready. Alas, it was not to be.

    In August 2010, he made it to the family reunion in Vancouver in spite of his frantic schedules. We had a fabulous wonderful four days together. Little did I know that would be the last time we would ever get to enjoy his joyful company. I’m missing him already. He will live in my heart forever.

  142. Fred Berger
    August 25, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Dear Simon, we could have been colleagues and I would have loved this. The day you stepped in for your job interview at our institute in Singapore seven years ago I understood how valuable coworker you would be and after a meal what great friend you would become. But you made the right choice and flourished in Davis and expected so many more amazing discoveries to come from your research. Even if we will no longer have the chance to share directly your enthusiasm for Science and Life, even if I will not have the chance to do another of these long walks we took together during conferences and discuss all kinds, you will remain in the heart of many and we will still see ripening fruits of the ideas, the mentoring, the inspiration you lodged into your students, post docs, collaborators and friends. I send my deepest condolences to your family members. But they should rest assured that your spirit is still with us.

  143. Robin Wilson
    August 25, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    I didn’t know Simon well – unfortunately we only met a few times – but his sister has been a best and treasured friend of mine for the past 20 years. She spoke of him often with great pride and fondness. They were clearly very close and dear to each other. Yet even she was I think surprised to learn the extent of his renown in the science world when Simon fell ill. This is surely testimony to his incredibly humble and unassuming nature. It is unbelievably sad to read these heartfelt comments and overwhelming to see the mutual admiration and remarkable respect everyone felt for him both as a brilliant scientist and a genuinely lovely person. His indelible spirit will clearly shine bright for many years to come. I feel privileged to have had a connection to him through his wonderful family. My heart goes out to them for their immeasurable loss and the terrible grief they must be suffering at this time.

  144. Sebastien Andreuzza
    August 26, 2012 at 2:52 am

    I am still in shock at the news. I only interacted with Simon a couple of times, but I found his enthusiasm for science and his passion for life truly inspiring. My heart goes to his family, friends and colleagues in this difficult time.

  145. Michael Lohuis
    August 26, 2012 at 11:50 am

    This is very sad news and a terrible loss. I visited Simon in his lab and he really impressed me with the quality of his science and his enthusiasm for his work. He was a true gentleman and a great scientist!

  146. Santhini
    August 26, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Very sad to hear this, great loss to scientific community. Heartfelt condolences to Simon’s family and his lab members.

  147. Kariuki Samwel
    August 26, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    This is sad news indeed. I met Simon once during his first visit to Africa. I accompanied him for safari where he talked to me about science and life. He was a great inspiration and it is a great loss. R.I.P Simon.

  148. kbradnam
    August 27, 2012 at 8:11 am

    I wanted to write something longer, about how I got to know Simon, and about his love of music and his love of food. My blog post, with a few pictures, is here:


  149. Stephen Hunter
    August 27, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    I have just come across this blog and wanted to post a brief message before leaving Auckland tonight to attend Simon’s funeral in Davis.

    Simon and I were friends for 25 years, since our first year of high school. Simon was as amazing then as he went on to become in his professional life in California. He was funny, kind and incredibly talented. At school those talents manifested most obviously through his music, but Simon was also the top student in the entire country in the final year nationwide English literature exam.

    I have been lucky to have seen Simon regularly over recent years, usually in the pursuit of his love of cuisine. I am blessed with fond memories of eating Brazilian food with Simon in Cambridge, Ethiopian in DC, and most recently Malaysian at Sri Pinang, a cheap and cheerful restaurant on K Road in Auckland where we had dinner in February this year with my wife Julia and Kirsten, another old school friend. Simon also turned up for significant life events, the way the best friends often do: he played the sax as Julia arrived at our wedding in 2004 and attended our daughter’s first birthday party in 2006.

    Anyone who has met Simon’s parents will know the source of his kind, gentle and generous nature. I am so very sorry for them and for Simon’s sister Caron. Simon was the most loyal and kind friend anyone could ever want and I miss him terribly.

  150. Aunty Peng
    August 27, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    All these comments about my dear nephew makes me wanna cry. I am in awe of all the accolades written. At this time, I feel so much for my sister, husband and daughter Caron. My relatives and I will be arriving tomorrow. I am not sure how I can handle all this sadness. Thank you all from the depth of my heart for your support.

  151. Peter Waterhouse
    August 27, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Simon was a wonderful, generous, joyous friend and a scientific inspiration. Like so many others, I will miss him enormously – the kiwi with the biggest smile, sharpest mind and coolest haircuts.
    Deepest sympathy to his family

  152. Brenda Marin Rodriguez
    August 28, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Simon has been my mentor/PI since the beginning of my freshman year in college to the end of my 4th year at UCDavis. I knew nothing about anything scientific, but Ravi and Simon(as well as other lab members) took the time to teach me(sometimes more than once) the scientific fundamentals I lacked in order to succeed at UCD.
    Moreover, the lab became my new family. Simon to me was like an uncle. In fact , there was another death in my family the day Simon passed away, but this loss impacted me more. Day in and day out for four years, we had our differences, but we all cared about each other. It is heartbreaking to go into lab and see his office as he left it and remember all the little moments like having him shows us the USB cake in cakewrecks.com or having him ask anyone what games to download into his phone so his nephews would think he was a “cool uncle.” It is the small things you miss about a person…

    Thank you for being my mentor, Simon. I will never forget you

  153. Meg Byrne
    August 28, 2012 at 10:09 am

    My deepest condolences. I was in graduate school with Simon – a few years behind him. He was someone who always made departmental retreats a little more fun – clearly an incredibly smart person yet very approachable and warm. This is a real loss to the scientific community. I was lucky enough to have dinner with him and another friend from grad school a couple months ago, and it is a real shock to think that he is now gone.

  154. Rebecca Chan, Chicago
    August 29, 2012 at 7:04 am

    I didn’t get to see Simon often, but when he did manage to make his quick stops in Chicago, I knew we were all thrilled to see our boy genius again. Even from an early age, I was always told that Simon was brilliant and overflowing with potential, which I now realize is quite an understatement. And while this was all very true, I did not see him as this rigid genius image that so often popped in my mind. I saw him as my down-to-earth cousin that rocked the rad 80s haircut, the Maori shirt, the kicked-back slacks and most importantly, his signature pair of Converse. Though he certainly built a brilliant and profound image for himself as he advanced further in his career, his cool, relaxed exterior always reminded me that he was still just my cousin, Simon.

    Though Simon easily kept his reputation of academic excellence, one of my favorite things about him was his versatility in music. As if the piano was not enough, Simon boldly took on the saxophone, the bass and even the ukulele. Each time he came to visit us, we would always enjoy the warm, unwinding melodies as Simon refreshed us with his classical piano pieces. Being merely an amateur pianist myself, his raw musical talent was something I always strive for, a skill that I so wanted for myself as my clumsy fingers tried to emulate those fluid motions of his. When I was seven years old, Simon gave me my very own pair of maracas. The instrument was foreign to my young eyes, but he soon taught me how to shake and rattle the maracas to my own beat and rhythm. That pair of maracas is one of the coolest gifts I have ever received and they still rest upon my piano today.

    As I grow up and begin to enter a new phase of my life, I am confronted with more and more pressure as to what I want to study and pursue as a career. Today, it lies in the field of biological sciences. Simon has opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities in this field while on a friendly tour of the Davis campus. What Simon did in plant biology and the world-changing breakthroughs he and his team were able to achieve was the inspiration that convince me to make this career choice. I picture myself in that signature white lab coat, working amongst Petri dishes, pipettes, test tubes and more. Perhaps it is the genuine interest I have in Simon’s area of study, or perhaps it is the idyllic research environment that has driven me to pursue this path. In my mind, no one is comparable to Simon and I can only hope for just a fraction of his success. That is the least I can do to perpetuate Simon’s memory.

    Simon, those pair of Converse will miss the warmth of your feet, the instruments will miss your occasional friendly gigs, and the lab will miss your every breath of anticipation for a new discovery. But most importantly, we will all miss you and everything you represented to us – as a son, a brother, a friend, a colleague, even a cousin.

    • Guy Moloney
      August 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      A lovely tribute Rebecca. Send my love to your parents as well.
      – Guy, Clara and Rose Moloney

  155. Ken Chan, Chicago
    August 31, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    In the eyes of this aging uncle, my nephew Simon will always be the extraordinary kid who blossomed into a remarkable young man that was well-liked by everyone. He embodied the qualities that every parent would want their children to have, the quintessential role model that is an inspiration to our kids.

    As we mourn his loss with a heavy heart, grieving should not be the only food on our plate. Indeed, we should also celebrate Simon’s life. He has left an indelible impression on us in more ways than one and his positive outlook was exemplary. Simon has an unquenchable thirst for excellence. His work ethic was impeccable and his penchant for hard work was legendary. But don’t get me wrong; he was not a one-dimensional nerd by any stretch of imagination. Simon was a incredibly well-rounded person who was widely read and articulate, and his varied interest was astounding. His passion for food was well known and his culinary experiences were well documented in his blog ‘Low End Theory – L.A.’s Restaurants’. Long-distance bicycling was also one of his many loves and at one time he owned as many as 6 bicycles. A talented musician, he played several instruments and performed gigs that brought enchanting music to our ears. Above all, Simon was always warm, sincere and approachable. That humble scientist who was ever ready to share his profound love for science with his peers was my nephew. I can go on and on but suffice to say, Simon was all that and more.

    We love you Simon, and we’ll miss you. Your departure has left a void in our life but your legacy as a scientist and your positive energy will live on. I am sure you would not want us to be mired in despair. Instead you would prefer us to live a full life, fueled by the cherished memories that will glow like an eternal flame in our heart.

  156. September 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    I’d like to offer a different sort of remembrance about a different side of Simon.

    I founded the web site Chowhound.com back in 1997. The mission was to encourage people to be more intrepid, and to find hidden deliciousness – great places run by kooks and holdouts and geniuses outside the media spotlight. The idea was to discover, love, and evangelize those sorts of places in Chowhound’s forum, where kindred spirits would appreciate the tips, and return tips of their own.

    We wound up with nearly a million monthly visitors by the time I sold the operation to CNET (now CBS). And as it grew, things unavoidably diluted a bit. The central theme, ala Monty Python and the Holy Grail, had been “think for yourself!”. Don’t eat where you’re told! Don’t settle for conventional wisdom! Go out and proactively discover treasure! Bask in the deliciousness! Report back!

    But inevitably, a few hardcore people used Chowhound to recount their adventures, while a many more used it to passively draft along behind their efforts. The site became mostly just another place to be told where to eat.

    I don’t think of it as a failure, however, because a few really stellar chowhounds showed up over the years, none better than Simon (who was better known by his nom-de-food of “Low End Theory”). Simon completely “got it”. He’d been spending all his spare time eating around everywhere, and gleefully recounting his awesome discoveries first on Chowhound and later on his own very popular food blog http://lowendrestaurants.blogspot.com

    Want a great read? Check out Simon’s three part epic report of his 2002 Spain trip
    part 1: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/261558
    part 2: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/261559
    and part 3 http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/261561

    Food bloggers are ubiquitous these days, but 2002 was damned early, and Simon was very very good. I have many published books under my belt, but I always looked to Simon with admiration. Such passion, such knowledge, such clarity. I built Chowhound for people exactly like him!

    I went out eating with Simon a couple of times. While food aficionados can be competitive or ditzy, treating it as an empty-headed scavenger hunt for this or that trendy yum-yum, Simon never lost his awareness that partaking of the cuisines of other cultures brings you closer to unity. He ate zealously, announced his discoveries with intelligence and glee, and was always much more interested in having people enjoy what he’s enjoying than in calling attention to his own talent and expertise. It was never “about him”.

    I’m really quite aggrieved that Simon was forced to end his meal so suddenly. He hardly got into his main course, much less dessert. Yet Simon had, in four decades, tasted a lot; much more than most people do in their entire lives. He lived densely. I don’t know much about science (though I understand he was a wonderful scientist), but I don’t need to. I ATE with the dude, and, just from watching him attack tacos and lasagna, I can attest that he packed lifetimes into his 38 years.

    By the time he put down his fork, he’d enjoyed a taste of EVERYTHING. And fully experienced each bite with open-hearted savvy appreciation.

  157. T. S, Mong (Canada)
    September 3, 2012 at 7:38 am

    To borrow words from a good friend of mine after she has read about Simon, “it is not how/when one dies as how one has lived that matters” in the end. As long as his friends, his relatives, his colleagues, those Simon has taught and mentored are alive – as long as UC(Davis) exists – as long as research on plant biology goes on – Simon will be remembered. Thank you, my loving and loved nephew, for coming into our lives.

  158. David Toczyski
    September 7, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    I was incredibly saddened to hear the news. I was on Simon’s thesis committee when I first joined UCSF, and he attended our lab meetings for a while. Simon was a great scientist and and fantastic guy. The last time I saw him was a few years ago when I bumped into him in Kobe Japan, of all places. He convinced me that I should make a special effort to get some Soba because the buckwheat was currently fresh. As in our lab meetings, his advise was spot on.

  159. Joanna F
    March 14, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    The world has lost a bright light. Remembering Simon, even today, months later.

  160. Ed Browne
    February 26, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    I was friends with Simon for nearly twenty years. We first met as teenagers when we were both undergraduate summer researchers in the Biochemistry dept at Auckland University in New Zealand, and we instantly became friends, bonding over our mutual passions for jazz and biology. He played the saxophone with my band a few times, and I couldn’t believe how good he was. A couple of years later, when he applied to grad school at UCSF, and was accepted, this was a total inspiration to me. He showed me that a kid from an obscure lab in a remote country could make it to the big leagues. I never would have made it to grad school in the US if it hadn’t been for Simon. We kept in touch over the years, both in person and by email, and I was thrilled to see how well he was doing running his own lab at UC Davis. I can’t think of anyone who deserved his success more than Simon. An extraordinarily nice guy who was also a brilliant scientist and a devoted friend. I still really can’t accept that he is gone. He was one of the good ones, and will be missed.

  1. September 27, 2012 at 6:02 am
  2. December 9, 2012 at 9:24 pm
  3. January 30, 2013 at 10:57 pm

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