In Memoriam: Elif Yavuz, SD ’13

Elif Yavuz

Elif Yavuz, SD ’13, was killed on September 21, 2013, during a terrorist attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. She and her partner, Ross Langdon, also killed in the attack, were expecting their first child.

Yavuz, 33, a Dutch national, completed her dissertation research on malaria in eastern Africa. After graduating from Harvard School of Public Health this past spring, she took a job in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, as a senior researcher with the Clinton Health Access Initiative’s applied analytics team. She was in Nairobi to deliver her baby, expected in early October.

“Elif was brilliant, dedicated, and deeply admired by her colleagues, who will miss her terribly,” former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton said in a statement released on the Clinton Foundation’s website.

At a memorial held at the School, doctoral student Corrina Moucheraud, SD ’15, a close friend, remembered Yavuz as a “force of nature” with “boundless heart, brains, and spirit.”

Yavuz’s thesis adviser, Jessica Cohen, assistant professor of global health, recalled both the dedication and infectious joy she brought to her work. Yavuz tackled her doctoral fieldwork in Luwero, Uganda, with a “drive for perfection [that] was remarkable,” Cohen said. But she also made it fun, teaching all of the children in town the Michael Jackson “Thriller” dance.

Although she was just at the start of her career, Yavuz had already made a contribution through the deep bonds she forged around the world, Cohen said. “No one forgets Elif.”

The HSPH Department of Global Health and Population has established a fund in honor of Elif Yavuz, SD ’13. Contributions will support next-generation students in global health to carry on Elif’s passion for research and service.

For more information, go to the HSPH Gift web page. Please designate “Elif Yavuz Memorial Fund” with your contribution.

Amy Roeder