Rice mourns the death of Christiaan Scholtz

The Rice community is grieving the loss of bioengineering graduate student Christiaan Scholtz. Scholtz, 23, was in his home country of South Africa for summer break when he died June 30 in an apparent farming accident near the town of Paarl in the Western Cape province.

Scholtz received his undergraduate degree from Stellenbosch University in South Africa and was just beginning his Rice endeavor.

“While he was relatively new to campus, he quickly made his leadership and presence known in the Rice community, and he leaves behind many friends at Rice,” said Seiichi Matsuda, dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies. “We offer our sincere condolences to his family and to his classmates, professors and other friends at Rice.”

Faculty members who worked closely with Scholtz shared their thoughts on his passing:

Michael Deem, chair of bioengineering, and Jane Grande-Allen, professor of bioengineering:
“We are saddened to learn of the death of Christiaan Scholtz, and our thoughts are with his family for their loss.

“Christiaan enrolled in the Master of Bioengineering program because he wanted to build upon his chemical engineering background in a way that would improve human health. He was particularly interested in ways to treat cancer and multiple sclerosis. He intended to pursue a career in the medical device industry after he graduated, and he wished to return to South Africa eventually to strengthen the medical device industry in his home country.

“Christiaan did exceptionally well in his first semester at Rice. He leaves behind many friends at Rice.”

Eric Richardson, lecturer in bioengineering:
“Christiaan was a very focused, hard-working student who was passionate about using technology to treat illness. He had a great interest in developing products for African countries, including his home country of South Africa. He performed very well in his classes, along with being very active in sports, including Rice’s lacrosse team. His teamwork and leadership skills were evident both in academics and sports. Despite being at Rice for only four months, Christiaan quickly developed friendships throughout the department and school. He will be greatly missed by his professors, fellow students and the Rice community.”

Funeral services for Scholtz are planned for July 5 in South Africa.

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.