Obituary: Leah Rae Czerniewski, biomedical engineering doctoral student, 34

Leah Rae Vandiver Czerniewski, a doctoral student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, died after a long illness Tuesday, June 11, 2024, at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. She was 34.

Leah Rae Vandiver Czerniewski

Czerniewski worked in the lab of Jin-Moo Lee, MD, PhD, the Andrew B. & Gretchen P. Jones Professor in Neurology and head of neurology at the School of Medicine. Czerniewski studied the cellular basis of Alzheimer’s disease and neurodegeneration. She was an expert in super-resolution light microscopy, fluorescence and cell culture and was a co-author on five peer-reviewed journal articles.

“Leah was an extraordinary student and neuroscientist,” Lee said. “Despite her illness, she pursued science with a quiet determination that was an inspiration to those around her. Most importantly, she was a beautiful human being: kind-hearted, generous and a wonderful mentor to many. She touched so many lives. She will be missed.”

Czerniewski earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Saint Louis University and was preparing to submit and defend her dissertation at the time of her death.

Czerniewski is survived by her husband, Aaron Czerniewski; a daughter, Lucy; her parents, siblings, grandparents, in-laws, and extended family and friends.

A memorial Mass was held June 17 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Old Monroe, Mo. Memorial contributions may be made to the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church; Immaculate Conception School; Stella’s Wish; or STL Cure Sarcoma in care of Carter-Ricks Funeral Home, 2828 E. Highway 47, P.O. Box 253, Winfield, Mo., 63389.