Wednesday, March 18, 2015

"My wife, whom I love..."

Google's spiders are so good at hoovering up information that searching the name of a chemist (B.S./M.S./Ph.D.) will often bring up their thesis and their acknowledgements. 

I took a brief moment to look at my thesis (been a while) and here's the people that were acknowledged: 

- Advisor
- Committee members, professional staff (NMR person, X-ray person, MS person), administrative staff
- Group, beloved group members
- Family
- Wife

I'm sure, in some theses, there are encomia to Starbucks or Jack-in-the-Box breakfast sandwiches. 

Readers, what was in your thesis acknowledgments?

UPDATE: Paul Bracher posts his acknowledgements, which are heartfelt and wonderful.

UPDATE: Sam's acknowledgements are pretty wonderful, too. 

21 comments:

  1. I had the usual suspects, like you've listed.

    But I always found it incongruent that people would thank their faith-based deities in a thesis devoted to empirical investigation. Therefore, in my acknowledgements I included thanks to my deity, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and I was particularly grateful that "The success of this work was surely guaranteed by the wise and gentle touch of His Noodly Appendage upon my experiments. Ramen."

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    1. I'm pretty sure no one's kids or SO (much less anyone's J-i-t-B breakfast sandwich) was running experiments or distilling solvents in lab - they're there because of emotional importance. So if one's deity is important, it gets into the acknowledgements, even if it didn't run or facilitate experiments.

      Of course, an argument for you is that if people really thought that their deity would help with the thesis, there'd probably be an altar in the corner of the lab, likely with the blackened bones of competitors or other grad students on it. After five years in grad school, lots of people would be happy to get out selling only their souls.

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    2. I am not a Pastafarian, but I found your comment funny nonetheless.

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    3. I would sacrifice a goat if only someone would tell which deity to name.

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    4. Perhaps some are giving thanks to their faith-based diety for creating the evolutionary process that resutled in them having the ability to carry out said emperical investigations.

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  2. Mine was pretty boring, but one of my labmates acknowledged Jimmy Buffett for being his late-night lab soundtrack.

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  3. I had a fourth year student thank her "Creator" in her undergrad thesis. The PI and myself only got thanked for out time and understanding. We were in good company though.

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  4. Mine was bland and sterile, because at that point I just wanted it to be over and didn't care about reflection or introspection. I do regret missing out on the opportunity for a quote in the frontispiece. I know someone who aptly quoted one Homer Simpson: "Lisa, in this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!"

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    1. I remember getting a smirk from my Dad (a rarity!) when I was visiting my parents at home one summer while still in college (I was working at nearby Edgewood Arsenal for the Summer).

      Dad reminded me that he set the rules in the house when I chimed in, "second only to the laws of thermodynamics and Murphy".

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  5. My acknowledgments were 2-line long. I thanked my advisor on the first, and the night on the second line, who had been my best friend during these years at the bench. A bit gothic, I know. I was young.

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  6. I acknowledged my mom - for typing my thesis... (it was in 1991).

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  7. The Aqueous LayerMarch 19, 2015 at 8:18 AM

    My adviser
    A very good friend of mine in the group
    My group
    My family
    My girlfriend for putting up with me during graduate school

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  8. Of course I thanked my girlfriend for her support, but is it awkward that she's no longer in the picture, and her name will always be in my thesis? To be fair, she was the one who put up with me during that period of time!

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  9. It's always fun to look at your group's old theses and see who wrote purple acknowledgements of their incipient ex-spouses.

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  10. "For the celebrities, visionaries and authors I did not know personally, but who produced things I read or watched between working and sleeping: Lauren Faust, Warren Spector, John Carmack, Pendleton Ward, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Ronald D Moore, J Michael Straczynski, Peter Molyneux, Kan Gao, Rob Bell, Darren Korb, Gabe Newell, Oliver Sacks, John Lennon, Notch, C S Lewis, Primo Levi, Marcus Borg, Tom Wright, Stephen Hillenburg, Matt Groening, Tim Burton, Paul, John Cleese, J R R Tolkien, George Lucas, Walt Disney."

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  11. It'd be interesting to note the tone associated with each acknowledgement as well. I've read acknowledgements, which range from extremely positive to those which, reading between the lines, should serve as a warning to potential graduate students!!

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  12. I dedicated the thesis to my parents and thanked the usual cast of characters, but I have to say I was particularly pleased to say the following: "To the writers and scientists who through their writings have provided me with so much intellectual and moral inspiration; they have taught me more than I realize. I would especially like to acknowledge the teachings and words of Hans Bethe, Freeman Dyson, Robert Oppenheimer, Richard Feynman, John L. Casti, Carl Sagan, E. O. Wilson, Constantine P. Cavafy, Arthur Ryder, James Watson, Richard Dawkins, James Gleick and Richard Rhodes. I have often seen the world through your eyes, and I am sure you will continue to motivate."

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  13. There is one obvious omission from all of these lists- the staff of your local bar/pub. The phrase "without which none of this would have been possible" could not apply more aptly to them...

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  14. chemistry...hhhmm...http://highschoolchemistryguide.com/

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  15. My acknowledgements were bland but efficient, like my supervisor's style of presenting anything. She regarded any departure into less-than-100%-formality as 'unprofessional'. For this reason, she forbid a different student from putting one of the Piled Higher and Deeper comics at the start of each chapter.

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