A Farewell to Graduate School

After just under 4 years, my PhD has finally come to an end. The congratulatory emails, phone calls, blog comments, FB and Twitter messages have been rolling in steadily - I thank you all for the kind words, and will try my best to respond to everyone personally in due time.

As Travis briefly explained yesterday, the defense went off smoothly despite my nerves. I was asked quite a number of questions (many more than during my Master's defense), but my committee members were all very friendly and polite so I felt pretty comfortable during the question and answer period. All the questions and comments were fair and a number of them really made me think about my approach to scientific research and beyond. It was most pleasing to me that two of my committee members particularly liked my discussion of knowledge translation (which I included in the last chapter of my thesis) and gave kudos on the work Travis and I have been doing on Obesity Panacea.

If I could offer one piece of advice to current and future graduate students: do yourself a favor - start your own blog. To explain the innumerable ways Obesity Panacea has vastly enriched my graduate experience requires a series of posts (more on this in the near future).

As a way to say thanks to all the people that helped me along the way, below I am posting the acknowledgments section of my thesis.

Where do I begin? It all started with a captivating cover of a National Geographic magazine at the Oshawa Public Library back in 2003. This led to an undergraduate thesis, under the supervision of Dr. Earl Noble entitled "Obesity: A Condition of Great Proportions and Great Misconceptions." Dr. Troy Gregory, who taught me innumerable things during the last year of my undergraduate degree and whose advice still guides me to this day, was a key behind-the-scenes contributor to that thesis. At the end of that work, seeing my keen interest in obesity, Dr. Noble suggested I contact some fellow at Queen's university by the name of Bob Ross. The rest is history.

Over the past six years, I have had the pleasure to work and play with many individuals who have significantly enriched my graduate school experience. While an individual thank you to everyone who appropriately deserves thanks would add substantial volume to this acknowledgment, a number of people deserve special mention.

During my time in the Ross lab, many graduate students have come and gone, and I am thankful to all of them for the help and more importantly the friendship they provided during my tenure. Lance, Jen, and So Jung made me feel welcome when I first arrived back in 2004. Having Kate go through all the trials and tribulations in parallel with me made the MSc process that much more enjoyable. Jennifer was then, and long after her departure continues to be my other supervisor, and for all her selfless assistance I am forever grateful. After becoming the senior student, Travis, Ashlee, Andrew, and most recently, Morgan and Kaitlyn have joined our lab, and each and every one of them have been absolutely wonderful to work with.

I owe a special thanks to my good friend, Travis, who has helped bring me into the digital age. Travis' idea to start a no-nonsense blog dealing with all matters of obesity, exercise, and health has given me a wonderful new means by which to satisfy my incessant need to write about science. This endeavor has given rise to various opportunities, and has become one of the most enjoyable aspects of the past year, and more broadly, of my graduate experience. One day we'll strike gold with some off-the-wall idea we discussed via one of our extended Gmail chats. Apart from being a great collaborator on the blog, Travis has been a fantastic friend who has provided me with invaluable advice during the most trying of times - often via online chats. Having my close friend there at my defense and the celebration afterwards really made the finale of my graduate experience memorable. I can't wait to cheer you on during your defense!

Special thanks to all the lovely ladies who have worked in the Ross laboratory over the years. Each and every one of you have at one point or another provided crucial assistance on matters for which I have embarrassingly little aptitude (i.e. using a fax machine, or even a phone). Melinda, Shelley, Amanda, Alison, Paula, and most recently Jenn - you are the most hard-working and yet the nicest people I have ever met. I wish you nothing but the best in your future endeavors.

Before I even set foot on Queen's campus I already knew Angie Maltby was the most helpful person on the planet, not to mention a mean drummer! I cannot stress enough how many times Angie has helped me out, usually at the very last minute, almost always dealing with some emergency. To this day, she continues to be helpful and available despite the significant growth of our department. If anyone in our department deserves a raise, it is Angie!

Thanks to my rotating gym buddies over the years for ensuring that I practice what I preach, and take time to inject some physical activity into my days. Ryan, Ian, Travis, and Lance - at one point or another you were my spotter on bench-press or a competitor in squash. Thanks sincerely for the much needed catharsis.

Thanks to my close friends Ian, Katie and Teddy who have on many occasions given me a much-needed mini-vacation from the academic bubble in the form of dinners, movie nights, game nights, etc. Despite the sometimes poor movie choices (e.g. Duplicity) I always felt at home and among family when relaxing at your place.

Dr. Bob Ross, in the acknowledgments section of my Master's thesis, I promised to teach you "a thing or two about a thing or two (obviously not science related)" during my PhD. I hope I have accomplished that goal. You are now in a very elite group of individuals who know about Joe Satriani, and the fact you can now play one of his songs just may be the highlight of my PhD accomplishments. Also, after adding more and more Beatles into my music library over the past few years, I can see you may have been right during our Nirvana versus Beatles debate. Thanks sincerely for all the time you've invested in my growth as a researcher and the opportunities that you made available. You have taught me more than you will ever know.

Thanks to my mom and dad for all the unwavering support throughout these past 6 years - you can finally breathe a sigh of relief as it is all over. Nevertheless, be warned that despite the decade of post-secondary education, and the Dr. designation, I just may be reviving my dreams of opening up that fast-food Pierogi and Sausage franchise in Poland I jokingly alluded to back in 2006. You have worked so hard, made tremendous sacrifices, and risked everything to ensure a better future for me. I will never be able to thank you enough for any of this, but I hope that you can see it was all worth it in the end.

And finally, I must thank the one person who provided the most critical piece of my life puzzle over the past 6 years: Mr. David Hasselhoff. Seriously though, Marinka, you have been the most extraordinary counterpart a man could ask for. You were the first person I met when I arrived in Kingston in September 2004, and the moment I saw you I knew my life would never be the same. You have changed the way I view the world, and you continue to challenge me and give my life balance. You are the person who has been there for me through all the highs and the sometimes prolonged lows. Quite simply, I could not have done any of this without you. I can't wait to embark on the next chapter of our life together. I love you, Chumpalous!

Dr. Peter Janiszewski


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Awww.... It really does take a village to make a doctor!

Congratulations once again--and thanks for keeping this great blog along the way.

Who knew a thesis acknowledgment could bring tears....Ktown is going to miss you PJ!!! Glad we can keep in touch through interfacing and texting :) Congrats again!

By Katie Chan (not verified) on 28 Apr 2010 #permalink

Congratulations Peter ! It has been a pleasure to have you with us these past 6 years and to watch your progress and your successes. It makes my job worthwhile every time one of "my grads" has an excellent journey thru grad studies. The SKHS wall of self-esteem grows with your success and yes, the secretaries at SGS and I do compare notes and brag about our students whenever possible. The Obesity Panacea has been the best idea ever and I read it with enthusiasm (and a cup of tea) every time you or Travis adds a post. I realize you all have to leave at some point to pursue your career goals and wish you every success doing that and it gives me great pleasure to know that our SKHS extended family is out there continuing to do great things to improve everyone's health. Rawk on Peter ....and oh yeah, Joe Satriani is one of theeeee best guitar gods out there (some call him the ultimate trickster) - I saw him up close and personal in TO a couple years ago (with Kings X and Dream Theatre) - awesome concert under the stars - he owned the stage......Angie, SKHS Grad Assistant

By Angie Maltby (not verified) on 28 Apr 2010 #permalink

Good for you! Keep up the good work!

By Hillary L. Myers (not verified) on 07 May 2010 #permalink