Fang Fang Kullander 14 November 1962 — 19 May 2010


Fang Fang was born on November 14, 1962, in Beijing, China, second daughter of state geologists Fang Zongxian and Han Mingzhen. The toddler Fang was always wearing a beautiful short fringe, with the smiling face and pure black eye. She was the darling of the family.

Fang entered primary school in Beijing in 1969. Soon she had to move to Sanmenxia city in Henan province as her parent’s organization was forced out of the capital city during the Culture Revolution. Fang went to Fenghua, Zhejiang province where her grandmother lived (also her father’s hometown) and stayed there for one year. Fang demonstrated her talent in language then. She could speak fluent Fenghua language when she came back to Sanmenxia city. She also learned Cantonese when she studied in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province. Fang’s writing skills emerged when she was a middle school student in Sanmenxia city. Many of her Chinese writings had been chosen by her teachers for other students’ references. She had been the role model student nearly every school year.

Fang entered Zhanjiang Fisheries College, Guangdong, in 1980, majoring in freshwater fish. She loved singing and joined the college choir. Fang graduated in 1984. Her Bachelor thesis — Studies on the anatomy of Clarias lazera — was awarded the second prize of the Scientific and Technological Advancement by the Chinese Agriculture ministry in 1986. She received her MSc in 1987 from the Department of Biology at the Hebei University, with Professor Wang Suoan as superviser. Her Masters thesis was a study of the early development of Brachymystax lenok. At Hebei University Fang worked as graduate assistant and associate lecturer in vertebrate zoology.

From August 1987 till May 1993 she was employed as Research Associate in the Division of Ichthyology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Beijing. Among other things she worked with the professor Li Sizhong on a review of the distribution of the major carps in China.

Already in China, Fang made extensive ichthyological field work, including Dongjiang River, Guangdong (1982), Luanhe River, Hebei (1986), Yuxian (1987), Hanasi Lake, Xinjiang (1988), Wujiang River, Guizhong and Sichuan (1989), Longxishan Reserve, Fujian (1991), Changjiang River, Jiangsu and Shanghai (1991), Erhai Lake, Fuxian Lake and Shweli River, Yunnan (1993).

Fang came to Sweden for the first time in October 1992, as a visiting scientist to the Swedish Museum of Natural History, financed by a scholarship from the Swedish Engineering Academy, IVA, and the Chinese Academy of Science. During the three-month stay she mainly dedicated herself to sorting and identifying a large collection of Sri Lankan freshwater fishes, actually belonging to the Museum of Zoology, Lund University. This project lead to a proposal to do a PhD at Stockholm University, submitted early 1993. A project plan to revise the cyprinid fish genus Danio was accepted by the Department of Zoology in 1993, with Professor Bo Fernholm as superviser, and with laboratory space in the Swedish Museum of Natural History. At that time it was not required to be fully financed as a PhD candidate, but she somehow survived, and in November 1996 she obtained a full time PhD position. While working on her PhD she travelled to Myanmar twice, to French Guiana, Brazil, Paraguay, and India. She also made a collecting trip back in Yunnan in 1995.

Fang married Sven Kullander 18 February 1995, and took his last name, keeping her maiden name as middle name. The marriage took place in the City Hall in Stockholm. In her first marriage she had a son, Tiantian Cheng, who came to Sweden in 1994. Her second son, Johan Bernard Didi, was born in Stockholm in April 1999. The family lived in the greater Stockholm area, moving from Gullmarsplan to Hökarängen to Farsta to Farsta Strand, all in steadily larger apartments, to finally settle in their own house in Segeltorp.

With Johan Bernard she took almost a year of maternal leave. She returned to the museum to complete her project work in 2000. The dissertation Phylogeny and species diversity of the South and Southeast Asian cyprinid genus Danio Hamilton (Teleostei, Cyprinidae) was defended in the museum auditorium on 5 June 2001, with Dr Richard P. Vari, Smithsonian Institution, as opponent. The dissertation is dedicated "to my two lovely sons Tiantian and Didi".

With her PhD in hand Fang worked first for an EU project — ECOCARP — with the objective of finding new species for aquaculture in China. ECOCARP lasted for three years (2001-2003), with several field trips to China and intensive interaction with colleagues in China and Europe. After ECOCARP, Fang was employed as curator in the Swedish FishBase team, which started in 2003. In FishBase, she was a driving force in the organisation of the annual FishBase Symposia, and also the triannual Artedi Symposia.

Fang was the secretary of the European Ichthyological Society from 2004 till 2009 when she resigned on account of her illness. She was a member of the Japanese Ichthyological Society, the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, the Swedish Sveriges Fiskforskares Förening, the Chinese Society of Ichthyologists, and the Chinese Society of Zoologists.

Although ichthyologist in heart and profession, she also loved singing and took lessons as a solo singer both in China and in Sweden. She also was one of the founders of the Chinese choir in Stockholm, and engaged in numerous activities with the Chinese community in Stockholm. She loved writing in Chinese, and her short stories are published online in Huazao.

In early 2009, Fang had stomach problems, diagnosed and medicated with no effect. While on a visit to China in June, her sister Ming took her to an ultrasound examination, revealing liver tumors, eventually identified as metastases of gall duct cancer. That was the beginning of a long, persistent fight against the disease. She, and the family, are immensely grateful to all friends bringing food, calling, and sending greetings. That made the burden so much easier. The staff of the Advanced Home Care Unit (ASIH) at Långbro Park, providing round-the-clock attention, concern, and medical care during this period, was a great support for Fang, who always looked forward to the daily chat with the nurses.

Fang lived to greet another beautiful spring day, she could sit in her garden in the warmth of the sun. She passed away peacefully in the evening of a bright spring day, May 19, 2010.

Fang travelled a long way, in culture, in love, and around the world. She visited almost all continents, she met so many interesting people, and she was at home with both the Chinese and the westerners, in food, in music, in laughter, and in friendship. She had a lot more to give and experience, and she was disappointed. She wanted to live more. But she also said that she had had a good life, regretting nothing, being satisfied with everything she had experienced, accomplished, and loved. She is now on her last journey, not coming back.

She is missed by her family, Sven, Tiantian, and Johan, her parents, her sisters Ming and Hong and their families, her father-in-law, and an immense number of friends and colleagues worldwide.

Fang Hong and Sven Kullander, 2010-05-31

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