She was a food fan, eager for culinary discoveries. In her last microblog update the morning before the Boston Marathon blasts, the Chinese graduate student identified as the attack's third victim posted a photo of ciabatta-like bread chunks and fruit.
"My wonderful breakfast," Boston University statistics student Lu Lingzi wrote.
In her early 20s, she often shared photos of her home-prepared meals on her Twitter-like Chinese Sina Weibo account — a blueberry-covered waffle one day, spinach sachettini with zucchini on another.
They were almost always served in a shallow, blue-patterned bowl. In September, she showed off her first two-dish meal — stir-fried broccoli and scrambled eggs with tomatoes, often cooked by Chinese students learning how to live on their own abroad.
Boston University confirmed Wednesday that Lu was studying mathematics and statistics at the school and was due to receive her graduate degree in 2015.
Chinese state media said Lu was from the northeastern city of Shenyang.
Reports of her death drew an outpouring of comments and condolences from friends and strangers, both on Lu's Sina Weibo account — with nearly 20,000 comments as of Wednesday — and on their own. Her former neighbor in Shenyang, Zhang Xinbo, lamented how the news brought home the tragedy of what he had considered a faraway event.
"I saw her grow up, and a few scenes from the past are flashing through my mind. Now, she's becoming a girl, a bit Westernized, but a loud bang has changed everything," he wrote in a blog. "I think of her loved ones, and I don't know how they are coping with this painful news, while still searching for any thread of hope."
Many comments reflect a growing awareness that the burgeoning number of Chinese students studying in the U.S. and elsewhere in recent years has opened them up to dangers ranging from mundane street crime to terrorist attacks.
"Nearly 12 years after Sept. 11, more and more people have realized terrorists are the global enemy. They not only attack Americans but also Chinese, regardless of nationality and race," the well-known blogger and author Li Chengpeng wrote on his microblog site.
Chinese are the largest contingent of foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities. Last year, nearly 200,000 Chinese were enrolled in U.S. institutions of higher education, and Massachusetts had almost 10,000 Chinese students on its college campuses, according to the Institute of International Education.
The detonations near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three people and wounded more than 170. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said a Chinese student from Chengdu was among the gravely wounded.
Lu's former high school teacher, Yang Yongkun, told the Shenyang Evening News that Lu had left a deep impression on him.
"This child is particularly smart and simple," the newspaper quoted Yang as saying.
According to Lu's profile on the professional networking site LinkedIn, she was awarded "excellent student" at the Beijing Institute of Technology, where she graduated last year. It said she held jobs or internships at the Beijing offices of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu consultancy and at Dongxing Securities Co. during her undergraduate years and spent a semester at the University of California Riverside.