For anyone tired of hearing about my thesis – let me start by saying that this will be the last post on the topic for the foreseeable future. My thesis was officially accepted on Monday, which means that one big chapter of my life is coming to a close.
The defense itself went remarkably smoothly – I was lucky to have a great committee and fortunate that most of my projects have already been accepted for publication, both of which helped a lot. My committee members were so nice that one of them (Pascal Imbeault) actually introduced himself to my parents beforehand, and reassured them that it would be a relaxing “science fiesta”, and that they had nothing to worry about. That’s a really nice thing to do for someone’s parents just before a defense, and it made the process much more enjoyable and relaxed for my family (who were understandably anxious). There were a few tough questions (What are the main sites of glucose utilization at rest? Answer: Fat tissue and the central nervous system. My incorrect answer: Muscle and fat tissue), but it generally was a science fiesta as Pascal predicted.
The above video is my PhD thesis defense in its entirety (the full text is available online here). The video turned out much
butter better (thanks Allana) than our attempt at live streaming (for all those who tried to watch live, I apologize for the audio). The audio on this new video is pretty good considering our setup, although you may want use headphones to catch the details. Thanks to Mike Borghese for all his help with the recording.
I have a LOT of people to thank for their help the past four years; if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a small city to get through a phd. Below is the acknowledgements section from my thesis (available in full here), and publishing them here on the blog is an idea I am happily stealing from Peter (you can find the recap of his PhD defense here). Before I get to the official acknowledgements, I would like to thank Peter for his friendship and support the past seven years, and for his kind words on Friday. I would also like to thank Zach Ferraro for his post on the weekend – it is because of lab mates like Zach and Peter that I have been able to get through grad school in the first place. Thanks also to all the people who have been following Obesity Panacea since it began five years ago, and especially those who have sent a congratulatory message through the blog or on Twitter.
For anyone wondering where I am off to next, I will be starting a post doctoral fellowship at Dalhousie University later this year, funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. My work at Dal will be examining sedentary behaviour among people with chronic diseases (cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer), and has the potential for some very interesting results. It will also mean that my wife and I will be back on the East Coast, which is exciting in and of itself (I grew up in New Brunswick, but have lived “away” since starting my BSc in Calgary). I’ll be sure to chronicle my new research as soon as things get up and running in Halifax.
Now on to my acknowledgements!
While I take full responsibility for the works that make up this thesis, none of the studies that follow would have been possible without the help of many friends and colleagues. I ask that the reader bear with me, as this section is one of the few opportunities that I will have to formally acknowledge and thank those individuals.
I would like to begin by thanking the many participants (and their families) who took part in the studies that make up this thesis. They volunteered a great deal of time, energy, and even blood, and without them none of these studies would have been possible. Not only that, but they helped make the long hours of data collection enjoyable, for which I am extremely grateful.
I would also like to sincerely thank my PhD supervisor Mark Tremblay. It is hard to find words to describe how much I appreciate all he has done for me as a supervisor and mentor. I came to work with Mark at a time when I was uncertain whether I wanted to continue with grad school. However, after just a few months working in the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group that he oversees, my decision to pursue a PhD was both easy and obvious. Mark has been fiercely supportive of myself and my labmates, and has consistently provided me with rapid, detailed and (when necessary) blunt feedback throughout my PhD. I don’t know that many graduate students are excited to go to work in the morning, but thanks to Mark (and the fantastic group he has assembled), I’ve always been able to look forward to work in “The Hub”. Given the experience I have had working with Mark and the rest of the HALO team, I would also like to thank Michelle Lafrance, Doug Willms, and my uncle Patrick Flanagan for directly and/or indirectly sending me in this direction.