The Yale School of the Environment Mourns the Loss of PhD Candidate Mochen Liao

Message from the Dean

March 7, 2021

Dear YSE Community:
On Friday night, we received the very sad news that a member of our community, Mochen Liao, had died. Mochen was a first-year doctoral student working with Dr. Yuan Yao. While the Medical Examiner has not yet issued a report on the cause of death, it appears that it was due to natural causes.

Mochen arrived at YSE this fall, joining the YSE and Yale communities after earning his master’s degree in Forest Biomaterials at North Carolina State University. His research at Yale in the Center for Industrial Ecology centered on better understanding and improving the sustainability implications of industrial processes. 

We plan to have a virtual vigil for Mochen on Thursday, March 11 at 8 pm for sharing, listening, grieving, and being together. Mochen’s family will be able to join us, and we hope this remembrance will give them some comfort. We have also set up a virtual tribute wall so that we can share our memories and thoughts of him. Additionally, a card-writing station to express thoughts, memories, and prayers for his family will be erected in front of Kroon 102 on Monday through the end of the week (submissions can also be sent via email to 

Mochen’s death is another terrible loss for our community. For those in need of support, please remember you may reach out to Mental Health and Counseling over the weekend by calling Acute Care at (203) 432-0123. During the week, you can reach them by calling (203) 432-0290. You may also reach out to the Chaplain's Office at (203) 432-1128 or through the website where you can sign up for a same-day appointment. As a reminder, we have set up two group counseling sessions with Dr. Debra Gregory from Yale Mental Health and Counseling this week, one at 6:15 pm on Tuesday and one at noon on Friday. You can email to sign up. 
As a community, our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Mochen’s family, friends, and with each other as we think about what his loss means to all of us.
PUBLISHED: March 8, 2021
Note: Yale School of the Environment (YSE) was formerly known as the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). News articles posted prior to July 1, 2020, refer to the School's name at that time.