It is with incredible sadness that we inform you that Mohammad Hossein Asadi Lari, STEM Fellowship’s co-founder and former Managing Director, and his sister Zeynab, who created STEM Fellowship’s Human Resources team, passed away on Tuesday. Both Mohammad and Zeynab were on Ukranian International Airlines flight PS752, which crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran late Tuesday night.
Mohammad’s role in helping create and grow our organization cannot be understated. He worked tirelessly to develop the organization’s mission and vision, served as the first Chair of the STEM Fellowship Journal’s Student Editorial Board, expanded the scope of our Big Data challenge, and spearheaded our policy outreach work. Not only was Mohammad a visionary, but he was also a compassionate leader who went above and beyond – fostering a strong community, developing others’ potential, and inspiring them to unite around a common cause with his humanitarian ethos.
In addition to his role with STEM Fellowship, Mohammad also co-founded the Canadian Association of Physician Innovators and Entrepreneurs, was the pre-health sciences course director for NextGenU, and a published researcher in the fields of nanoscience, neuroscience, and cancer immunology. He led youth engagement initiatives in the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the Canadian Red Cross, and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, among many other contributions. Mohammad was an MD/PhD candidate at the University of Toronto; he received an Honours degree in Cellular, Anatomical, and Physiological Sciences from the University of British Columbia.
Mohammad was a compassionate, driven, intelligent, and inspirational young man whose potential knew no bounds. He was a tireless advocate for human rights, global health, equitable STEM education, meaningful youth engagement, and social innovation. Mohammad was a motivational leader who personified charisma, humanitarianism, and respect. As a friend, he was thoughtful, caring, and truly empathetic. His unique ability to connect people together empowered them to improve themselves and our world.
Zeynab was a creative, hard-working, committed young leader who made invaluable contributions to STEM Fellowship. She created the Human Resources Department within our organization and effectively developed many policies and procedures that have formed a foundation for our organizational strategy to this day. Driven to create opportunities for her campus community to develop STEM skills, she also founded a STEM Fellowship branch at the University of Toronto Mississauga. In her leadership of the branch, she displayed passion, creativity, and enthusiasm, which were warmly welcomed by her community. She was a patient and encouraging mentor, always willing to lend a hand and support those around her. Much-loved by her branch members and friends, her interest in people was sincere.
Zeynab was completing an Honours Bachelor of Science at the University of Toronto.
She demonstrated a strong commitment to fostering equity in medicine and global health, increasing community involvement and tackling stigma surrounding mental health. Among her many roles, she served as Mental Health Network Coordinator for the Youth Mental Health Association, a Youth Member at Young Canadians Roundtable on Health, an Executive Board Member at the Iran University of Medical Sciences Medical Student Association for Cancer Research, and previously interned with the World Health Organization.
It was an honour for us all to work with Mohammad and Zeynab over the past few years. During their lives, they touched many people with their tireless altruism and advocacy, and with their deep care for the people around them. Their passing is an unimaginable loss for their family, friends and communities they were a part of. May Mohammad and Zeynab rest in peace, and may this tragedy remind us all to value each moment of our lives and to continue to work to further their legacies of positive change.
Commemorating the life of Mohammad and Zeynab Asadi Lari
Quotes from the STEM Fellowship Community
In recognition of the lives of Mohammad and Zeynab Asadi-Lari, we would like to share a few quotes from members of our STEM Fellowship community who had the pleasure of working closely with Mohammad and Zeynab:
“Mohammad was one of the brightest individuals I’ve met in my life, supportive of every attempt to build a better world, a visionary leader and an inspirational innovator. In memory of Mohammad and Zeynab, let’s never lose the drive to make a positive change! Think GLOBAL, Act LOCAL.”
“Mohammad was one of the most compassionate, thoughtful, intelligent and inspiring individuals I have ever met. He lived with unparalleled positivity and empathy, never hesitating to support and uplift those around him. I have always admired Mohammad’s tireless dedication to take action for what he believed in while connecting and empowering others to do the same. When I met Mohammad after joining STEM Fellowship back in 2016, I was amazed by his drive, confidence and commitment to improve his community. Over the past few years, I have had the pleasure of witnessing Mohammad’s passion for both our organization as a whole and each of our members as individuals. As I transitioned into the Managing Director role, Mohammad consistently took the time and effort to share with me valuable insights he learned from his time as Managing Director. Mohammad has taught me how to avoid the literal meaning of my title and be a leader rather than a manager, how to seek humbling environments and embrace failure as an opportunity for personal development, how to foster meaningful relationships with those around me, how to ensure sustainability in our team’s efforts and to see life as a marathon and not a sprint, and so much more. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to work with Mohammad and learn from his unique experiences, and truly hope that we can all work to further his legacy of humanitarian ethos, STEM equity and youth engagement.”
“The first time I met Zeynab was during Reading Week when we worked together and lead a team to promote awareness about HIV/AIDS in collaboration with the Peel region. I remember her enthusiasm and determination to ensure that we did our complete best. She was always smiling and was very approachable and made the working environment very pleasant for me and the other team members. She was always ready to help others when they needed help. Not only that, Zeynab was always cheerful during lectures and she was super helpful during and after the lectures and would help you out. I learned more about Zeynab and her achievements when I was interviewed by her for the exec position for the STEM Fellowship club, a club she has been part of for so long. I remember I got a little nervous but she was very calm and allowed me to feel comfortable. I got to know her a little bit more through this club and I can say that it was a pleasure to get to know her and I hope I can carry on her vision for
the STEM club. My condolences for her, and her brother go to her parents who had raised an amazing person, so full of life and passion. May she Rest In Peace.”
“Zeynab was a tremendous team player, loved working with everyone and always looked out for her teammates. We met at an organization meeting that led to us becoming less like friends and more like sisters. She always acknowledged my talents and work ethic which made it an easy choice for her to start mentoring me at STEM Fellowship. My heart is heavy and will never be the same without her in my life.”Dania Shaeeb
“I first joined SF as an HR Liaison, of which Zeynab was my Director. I was a shy first year student who was trying to become more involved in extracurriculars, so I was fortunate to have a patient, encouraging, and friendly mentor like Zeynab. She loved her HR team and the work that was done, always coming up with new ideas to continuously boost the sense of community within SF. When I was recruited to the Branch Committee and had to leave HR, she remained a mentor and friend of mine and supported me throughout. She genuinely brought out the best in others and I thank her for giving me an incredible introduction to SF. Mohammad was a figure in the SF community everyone could look up to. Once I became Associate Director of Branches, I had the fortune of working closely with Mohammad, and I came to realize that he was one of the kindest people I knew and one of the strongest leaders I have ever met who truly loved his work and the people he worked with – it was a trait I have come to admire and look up to. I remember being nervous at my first few SC meetings, but Mohammad always made me feel important and took the time to listen and support my ideas and those of my peers, which instilled a sense of calm in myself, and I’m sure for everyone else.”Natasha Ilincic
“Zeynab was one of the most hardworking, dedicated and strongest people I had the pleasure of meeting. The first time I met Zeynab was during my STEM Fellowship interview, and from then on, we kept in contact. She was like a mentor to me giving me advice on upper year courses, taking the MCAT and life in general. She was a great president and one that was always attentive to the needs of all the members and always valued the inputs and opinions of everyone. Zeynab is one of my role models, she did so much for the community and left a mark everywhere she went, and it was a pleasure knowing and working with her.”Maryama M
“Mohammad and I met at a leadership conference 2 years ago and connected immediately based off of our shared commitment and passion for philanthropy and academia. After getting to know each other, I became an executive of STEM Fellowship given our shared belief of “thinking global but acting local”. He was one of the smartest, kindest, and genuine people I know and was so full of potential. His impact reached hundreds of thousands not just across the country, but across the world. It is an honor to have known him in many different respects over the last 2 years; as mentor, colleague, and most of all, a close friend. His death is incredibly tragic and my condolences go out to his family and anyone who was lucky enough to have known this incredible individual.”Mohit Sodhi
“Zeynab was one of the most dedicated and hardworking people I’ve met. Not only was she a bright student, but she was a bright person as well. She was an honour to be friends with and work with. I first met her during my interview for a position at STEM Fellowship and instantly I knew that I would have the best president. Ever since then, all of our experiences together has been so much fun and filled with lots of laughter, light and passion. Often she would give me advice on school and life which I really valued and followed. She was the ideal leader and always let us take charge instead of her telling usPooja D
what to do. A large part of our team is gone and incomplete without her. I will always hold on to our memories and I will keep working hard to honour her legacy.”
“Zeynab was an amazing student, but more than that, an amazing person and friend. The first day I met Zeynab was when she was interviewing me for our STEM Fellowship Club, and we really got along as we both knew Farsi. She was a very sweet and a smart person, and despite knowing her for a short while, I have learned many things from her. She was a hardworking and focused girl who wanted to help people, and she had accomplished many things at such a young age. Zeynab was truly an inspiration and had left an impact on everyone. I am so glad that I have had the chance to meet Zeynab in my life!”Saliha S
“Mohammad Asadi Lari was a cherished mentor of mine. He achieved so much at such a young age with unmatched passion for his local and global community. Despite being the busy body he was he always took the time to help out his friends/peers. The opportunities he afforded me changed the way I think about education, health and community. Only a couple of months ago he took the time to help me with medical school application, despite his own hefty medical school schedule. I am just but one of countless friends and colleagues his leadership benefited. Death is always a tragic event, but it feels especially tragic occurring to those so young, with so much passion and potential. Rest in peace Mohammad and Zeynab.”Tristan Wild
“Mohammad was a great inspiration, colleague, personal mentor and above all, a friend, who influenced my life greatly since our first STEM Fellowship meeting in 2016. It has been an amazing journey serving on STEM Fellowship’s executive team and I would not have had this opportunity had Mohammad not given me the chance and believed in me as a Grade 10 student, to be apart of this amazing organization he led. Through his guidance and encouragement, I become a stronger student leader to better serve my community. An empowering leader in advocating for accessible STEM education, global health, and community engagement, I highly admired how Mohammad made a difference in the lives of many through remarkable dedication and passion in numerous non-profits. During the rough times in my life, he was always supportive and just a message away. I am absolutely honoured, lucky, and forever grateful to have worked with him in bringing STEM education to youths across Canada and the world.”Vicky Chang