Shi-Yu Wu

photo of Shi-Yu Wu

Shi-Yu Wu

Shi-Yu Wu, 82, of Seattle, WA, and a longtime resident of Louisville, KY, passed away on Saturday, May 20, 2017, surrounded by his loved ones. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Lin (Chen) Wu, daughters Yung-Hsing Wu, Mie-Mie Wu, and Shao-Bai Wu, two sons in law, and three grandchildren.

For 45 years, Shi-Yu was a professor of physics at the University of Louisville, serving his department and the broader university community from 1969 to 2014. An eminent scientist and scholar, he left behind a rich and wide-ranging research legacy — from collaborations with the faculty at the Speed School of Engineering and the members of the Condensed Matter Physics team, both at the University of Louisville, to working relations with colleagues across the country (Case Western Reserve University, MIT, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Stanford and Virginia Tech) and abroad in Europe, China and Taiwan and Australia. Shi-Yu had a unique flair for the theoretical, but also a mind attuned to more applied contexts. He regularly sought out ways to make his insights relevant to the interpretation of real physical phenomena, and in the later years of his career found nano science research a fruitful venue for this thinking. For the consistent excellence of his work at the University of Louisville he received a host of awards, including the Outstanding Scholarship, Research & Creativity Award in the Basic & Applied Sciences at the college and university level as well as the prestigious Career Achievement Award; at his retirement, he was appointed a Kentucky Colonel, the highest title of honor the Commonwealth of Kentucky bestows. A true “professor’s professor,” he also trained several generations of students, helping them discover their interests, nudging them to take on big questions, even when they seemed too daunting, and devoting time and energy to shaping their careers, whether these were in university, industry, or government positions.


As a naturalized citizen, Shi-Yu felt strongly about his Chinese roots. Throughout his career he sought connections with scholars in Taiwan and China, believing that cross-cultural exchange was important in the development of scientific knowledge. He became a well-known figure through collaborations and invited talks at Jilin University (Jilin, China), Taiwan University (Taipei, Taiwan), Tsinghua University (Peking, China), and the University of Science and Technology (Hefei, China). Meanwhile he took great pleasure in working with Chinese graduate students for whom he was both a professional mentor and community father figure.

A small man in physical stature, Shi-Yu lit up rooms and gatherings with his big smile and hearty laugh, and greeted all with much back-slapping. His love of reading included literature in Chinese and English — as well as menus, which he gave careful and close attention. He was a film aficionado who put Fellini on the top of his list of greats, but would agree to a vote for the family tradition of a post-Christmas meal movie. He claimed that it didn’t matter to him if Louisville won or lost its basketball games, but always paced in front of the tv while watching the Cardinals, and held season tickets for years at Freedom Hall. He was quick on his feet and enjoyed badminton in the backyard and friendly (but intense) tennis matches with colleagues. He had a longheld desire to be a novelist and a UEFA soccer star. His vitality of living made even time an urgent issue, and those who knew him well also came to know “gee suh la,” the Chinese phrase that became an endearment describing his need to do things always in advance. He was generous in everything he did, and will be missed dearly by all who knew him.

In remembrance, the family is asking that donations be made either to the Professor Wu Lecture Series on Frontier Topics in Physics at the University of Louisville or the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

For the seminar series, please make checks out to the UL Foundation, and note the fund’s name and number [Wu Lecture Series/G2589]. The check may be sent to University of Louisville Advancement Services, 215 Central Avenue/Suite 300, Louisville, KY 40208.

For the cancer research center, please go to DONATION PAGE HERE
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4 Responses to “Shi-Yu Wu”

  • Bernadette Salgado says:

    What a wonderful tribute to a dedicated educator and family man. Thank you for sharing his story. My deepest condolences to the Wu family.

  • Yang, Shin Nan says:

    It is a shock to learn of your passing, Shi-Yu.
    A last farewell to you and please rest in peace in heaven.
    My deepest sympathy to the Wu family.

  • TONY SIMPAO says:


  • Chachawan Wongtawatnugool says:

    My deepest condolences to you and your family.May the soul of your rest in peace Doctor Wu

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