Remembering Iris Hui
We at the Bill Lane Center for the American West are devastated as our entire community mourns the recent loss of our beloved colleague, mentor and friend, Iris Hui. A brilliant scholar, whose research interests lay at the nexus of geography and political science, Iris joined the Lane Center as a postdoctoral fellow in 2013, transitioning naturally to the Center’s associate director of academic affairs shortly thereafter. In 2016, she became our senior researcher, leading the Center’s rigorous and impactful research efforts for the past five years. She died on Thursday, August 26, leaving behind family, friends, students and colleagues who regarded her with endless admiration, respect and love.
During her time at the Center, Iris mentored hundreds of Stanford students, many of whom were tackling the same issues Iris cared so much about – urgent, real-world problems facing the American West, from the governance of natural resources to climate change to police reform and more. With warmth, humor and approachability, Iris worked every day to challenge her students intellectually and encourage them to explore their unique passions and interests. She did this while extensively publishing her own research in subjects where she’d cultivated profound expertise: the environment and governance; demography and migration; applied geography and spatial analysis; California politics and more.
Novices and seasoned researchers alike benefitted from Iris’s mastery of diverse topics and methodologies. She generously shared her talents with the Stanford community, advising undergraduate and graduate student projects, co-authoring papers with students and colleagues, and leading a spirited, biweekly working group on the American West, which welcomed attendees from across disciplines and departments.
Without exception, students who have researched, interned or otherwise participated in Lane Center programs have characterized their relationship with Iris as meaningful and enriching. At times, students credited Iris’s mentorship as the inspiration for their academic and career goals in environmental policy and politics. In return, Iris had a deep respect and admiration for her students – not just for what they achieved but for who they were as people.
There is a heaviness at the Bill Lane Center as we remember the scholar, team member and collaborator whose achievements were as far-reaching and impressive in the remote workspace as they were in real life. We appreciated her keen understanding of human psychology and behavior; her deft problem solving; her swift responses to any ask at any time; her dry sense of humor; her laudable work ethic; her huge heart. Before her death, Iris was in the process of transitioning to a new role as the Director of the Global Social Impact Lab at the Graduate School of Business, and what an impact she would have made. We honor her contributions to the Bill Lane Center, the Stanford community and the fields of political science and beyond. We will miss her terribly.