Three student deaths hit MIT in 2012

Community mourns passing of Anderson, Tovo-Dwyer, and Guo

5565 death 2
Allison Tovo-Dwyer G.
5566 death 1
Brian G. Anderson ’13.
source: Facebook
5567 death 3
Heng “Nikita” Guo G.

In 2012, the MIT community was saddened by the deaths of three members: Brian G. Anderson ’13, Heng “Nikita” Guo G, and Allison Tovo-Dwyer G. Guo’s death was ruled a suicide, Anderson’s was due to an opiate overdose, and Tovo-Dwyer passed away after a year-long battle with cancer.


Anderson was found dead in his room in Next House on Feb. 20. The 21-year-old from Redwood Falls, MN, was a junior in Course 15 (Management), part of the MIT wrestling team, and a member of the previous incarnation of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity chapter at MIT.

His mother, Cecilia Anderson, remembered him fondly as a tough and determined individual at his memorial service in Minnesota last March.

“He was quick as a jackrabbit: both physically and mentally gifted,” Cecilia Anderson said. “He loved outwitting people and he had an indomitable spirit. There was nothing he couldn’t do if he put his mind to it.”

The Massachusetts Office of the Chief Medical Examiner stated in March that Anderson died of accidental “acute opiate intoxication with cardiac enlargement contributory.” The cause of death was revised two weeks later to “acute and chronic substance abuse.” Opiates include oxycodone, heroin, Vicodin, codeine, morphine, and many other related drugs. No information is available on what particular drug caused Anderson’s death.

The wrestling team does not test for drugs, according to team captain at the time Samuel W. Shames ’14. NCAA rules state that students should be ready for a drug test at any time, but wrestling, as a club sport, does not have to abide by those rules as varsity sports do.

“This tragic death reinforces the very serious danger that drugs may pose to the well-being of our community of our community and its members. We want to ensure that all members of our community are aware of the resources we make available to anyone who seeks help or guidance around issues of wellness and safety,” Grimson said in a statement through the MIT News Office.


In the fall, third-year Department of Chemistry graduate student Allison Tovo-Dwyer passed away on Oct. 11 after a year-long battle with cancer. She was 25 years old.

Tovo-Dwyer worked under Professor Arup K. Chakraborty while at MIT. Her research focused on using statistical physics to understand the human immune response to HIV infections and on harnessing the information to help design a potent vaccine.

“Allison was a brilliant woman who would have developed into a great scientist,” Chakraborty said to The Tech in October. “Her first publication was accepted into a top journal just a week before she passed away. I wasn’t able to tell her in person due to her hospitalization, but her mom told me the news bought a smile to her face. My research group and I will miss her very much.”


Heng “Nikita” Guo, an MBA student in MIT’s Sloan School, passed away on October 26th in her apartment in Cambridge. The 28-year-old was discovered by her husband, Bochao Zhang; her death was ruled a suicide by the Medical Examiner’s office.

Guo was expected to graduate from Sloan in 2013. She graduated from Texas A&M University in 2006, moved to New York City to work on Wall Street before enrolling in Sloan’s MBA program in 2011. Guo was also the Founder and CEO of Natural Loong Group, a startup tackling preventative healthcare by combining technology and traditional Indian and Asian healthcare knowledge, according to Guo’s blog as viewed in November.

“Such a loss of a promising young person is intensely painful,” wrote President L. Rafael Reif in an email he sent to the MIT community following the tragedy. “Our hearts go out to Ms. Guo’s husband and her family.”

As always, members of the MIT community who feel affected by the deaths are encouraged to contact MIT Mental Health Services at 617-253-2916.