One student, who completed his Ph.D. work with Stang in 1998, Bogdan Z. Olenyuk, also describes Stang as a dedicated adviser. “Peter always dropped what he was doing to make himself available, including on Saturday and Sunday mornings,” he says.
But Olenyuk, who is a professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Southern California, relates a personal story that characterizes Stang as an affectionate man who cares about the welfare of his students and their families, even after the students have moved on.
As a graduate student, Olenyuk sent much of his monthly stipend to his family in Ukraine. His father died shortly before Olenyuk moved to Utah, and his mother was ill with cancer. Her condition worsened, and by 1999, a year after Olenyuk left Utah to do postdoctoral work, she needed a lung operation that was going to cost tens of thousands of dollars, which neither she nor her son could afford.
“Peter learned about the situation and insisted on loaning me the money to pay for the medical expenses,” Olenyuk says. Stang was adamant about relieving his former student’s financial worries so that he could focus on finding a faculty position. “I’m very grateful to Peter for his help,” Olenyuk says. “This was no small gesture.”Many, if not most, professors are more than willing to help with money, but I think we can agree that this is going above and beyond.
Looking back (and also, as I felt at the time), I had a great PI in grad school. Can't point to any one particular thing he did, but he was supportive and kind (and still is.)
What's the kindest thing a PI has ever done for you? For that matter, what's the kindest thing a boss has ever done for you?
UPDATE: From Twitter, a pretty cool one from Professor Tonks:
@chemjobber I moved out at 16, needed a job--John Margrave at Rice paid me double as an RA. Kept food in my mouth, got me to love science!
— Ian Tonks (@ianatonks) April 19, 2013