Caius PhD student killed in Burkina Faso attack

‘She had so much to offer the world and it is a tragedy for her to be lost so young.’

Alan Ferscht attack Burkina Faso caius Canada. Canadian Studentship Tammy Chen terrorism

Tributes are being paid to ‘extraordinarily kind and caring’ Tammy Chen, a PhD student at Gonville and Caius college, who was one of 18 people killed in a terrorist attack on a popular Turkish restaurant in Burkina Faso’s capital city, Ouagadougou, on Sunday evening.

Chen, a native of Montreal, and her Senegalese husband Mehsen Fenaiche were confirmed as two of the eight foreign victims by Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Chrystia Freeland, on Monday.

Tammy Chen, pictured with her husband Mehsen Fenaiche

Chen studied education at McGill University, and in 2011 co-founded a charity called Bright Futures of Burkina Faso, which supported female education and entrepreneurship. Her doctorate thesis at the University focused on the intergenerational effects of poverty on women in Burkina Faso. She was six months pregnant at the time of her death.

The Toronto District School Board, for whom she worked, remembered her as a ‘passionate and charismatic’ employee, whilst Master of Caius, Professor Sir Alan Fersht, said he was ‘shocked and devastated’ at the news. ‘She was an exceptional woman’, he wrote in a statement on the college’s Facebook page today, with ‘so much to offer the world, and it is a tragedy for her to be lost so young.’

He pledged to set up a Caius studentship in Tammy’s name as a tribute.

Paying tribute to Chen, 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.”

The college are flying their flag at half-mast today as a sign of respect.