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The Dartmouth
June 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Graduate student Kexin Cai found dead

Cai was reported missing to the Lebanon Police Department on May 17.


Kexin Cai GR died at age 26, Dean of the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies Jon Kull wrote in an email to campus. The Lebanon Police Department and New Hampshire Fish and Game found Cai — who was reported missing on May 17 — dead Monday afternoon “after an extensive search,” according to Kull. 

Cai was a Chinese native and second-year doctoral student in the psychological and brain sciences department, Kull wrote. Her research focused on communication challenges for people with autism, and she enjoyed hiking, skiing and road trips, according to Kull’s email. 

“Kexin was an exceptionally gifted and humble researcher with a genuinely sweet personality,” Kull wrote. “She loved cats so much that she would sneak images of them into every poster or presentation. Kexin loved the Upper Valley.”

According to Cai’s partner, psychological and brain sciences research assistant Kristian Droste, Cai admitted herself to Dick’s House on May 13 due to a “mental health crisis.” Dick’s House transferred Cai to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, where she was released on May 15. Droste said he believed Cai left her home on the evening of May 15 with her electric bike.

The Lebanon Police Department used drones and tracked Cai’s cell phone data and credit card transactions during their search, Kull and Safety and Security director Keiselim Montás wrote in a campus-wide email on May 19. Montás and Kull wrote that the police did not “suspect foul play at this time.” 

Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center declined to comment on Cai’s release. Health service director Mark Reed did not respond to multiple requests for comment by time of publication.

For students, counseling services are available at (603) 646-9442 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Outside of regular hours, students should select “option 1” after dialing. Students can also contact the Tucker Center to set up a confidential pastoral counseling session. The Student Wellness Center and Undergraduate Deans Office remain available resources for students.

The Dartmouth Student Mental Health Union is also available for peer support. 

A full obituary will be published in the near future. If you would like to share a memory, please contact

Update Appended (May 21, 2:57 p.m.): Support resources have been added.