Professor: UC Davis Researcher Killed in Ethiopia had an Upbeat Personality, Promising Future

DAVIS -- She had a beautiful smile, a successful career path and a husband who worked with her in UC Davis' plant biology department.

But the university says researcher Sharon Gray was killed Tuesday in Ethiopia.

Chair of the UC Davis Plant Biology Department, Professor S.P. Dinesh calls the loss "impossible to comprehend."

"Like a sunshine she is always smiling. She was a bright young scientist, and she had a bright future ahead of her," Dinesh said.

The 30-year-old post-doctoral researcher was in Ethiopia for meetings to discuss a new project.

She was killed while driving with a professor outside the country's capital city -- an area that's been recently dealing with violent anti-government protests.

"People were throwing stones, and it appears one of the stones that was thrown entered the vehicle and struck Sharon and killed her," said UC Davis Spokesperson Andy Fell.

People who worked with Gray at the Plant Biology Department told FOX40 they were too emotional to talk about the loss, saying it is "very traumatic for them."

"That's really sad, especially considering she's just there trying to do research, and in a way, kind of bettering the world," said UC Davis student Amanda Shweiky.

UC Davis says Gray's husband worked in the Plant Biology Department with her.

Shweiky says she can't imagine his pain.

"That's got to be just so immensely hard for him, especially considering that now everywhere he looks at his work he's probably going to be reminded of his wife, and that's got to just be so sad," said Shweiky.

The university set up a memorial website where people who knew Gray could honor and remember a young woman who had so much potential.

"We could never forget her smiling face," Dinesh said.

The professor in the car with Gray when she was killed was unharmed.