Visiting researcher from Calif. drowns on Cape Cod

Kenneth Eum.
Universit of California, Davis
Kenneth Eum.

A 26-year-old researcher from California drowned Sunday on an isolated strip of beach in Cape Cod during an outing with colleagues.

Kenneth Eum, a graduate student from the University of California, Davis, was working as a teaching assistant for a neurobiology course at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, lab spokeswoman Diana Kenney said in an e-mail

“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy.” she said. “Our thoughts are with Ken’s family, friends and colleagues at this very difficult time.”


Kenney said Eum was off that day from his three-week teaching stint and the trip was not sponsored by the lab. Investigators said no foul play is suspected.

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After parking near the intersection of Snail Road and Route 6 in Provincetown, Eum and a group of researchers took a trail through the dunes to the ocean, said Craig Thatcher, a ranger with the Cape Cod National Seashore.

The group swam about 150 yards to a sandbar. The tide was “almost low” and the water was cold at below 60 degrees, Thathcer said. At one point, Eum decided to head back to shore.

People nearby noticed he had gone under and dragged him out of the water. They were trying to revive him using CPR when park rangers and lifeguards responding to 911 calls arrived at about 1:30 p.m., Thatcher said. Eum was pronounced dead a short while later.

Thatcher said the area near the accident is sparsely inhabited, though people sometimes kayak, swim, and fish there. The area isn’t officially closed to the public, he said, but the nearest beach with a lifeguard, Race Point Beach, is about two miles away.


Back at UC Davis, Eum’s research in the physiology and membrane biology department focused on enhanced tarantula toxins and voltage gated ion channels. Eum was studying toward a doctoral degree in molecular, cellular, and integrative physiology, and was on track to graduate next year, according to his LinkedIn page.

Eum had co-authored several research articles published in academic journals, according to the university’s website.

Prior to starting in 2010 at UC Davis, Eum, who was from Anaheim, Calif., worked at a biopharmaceutical company in San Diego called BrainCells Inc., according to his LinkedIn page. Before that, he was a lab assistant at Amylin Pharmaceuticals, also in San Diego.

The Marine Biological Laboratory will lower its flag in Eum’s honor, Kenney said.

Oliver Ortega can be reached at Follow him on twitter @ByOliverOrtega