Congratulations to Grant and Jason!

Advising graduate students as they make the journey from learners to working scientists is one of the great pleasures and privileges of academic life. Last week featured the Ph.D. thesis defenses of not one, but two students I’ve been working with, Grant Remmen (who was co-advised by Cliff Cheung) and Jason Pollack. It will be tough to see them go — both got great postdocs, Grant accepting a Miller Fellowship at Berkeley, and Jason heading to the University of British Columbia — but it’s all part of the cycle of life.

Jason Pollack (L), Grant Remmen (R), and their proud advisor.

Of course we advisors love all of our students precisely equally, but it’s been a special pleasure to have Jason and Grant around for these past five years. They’ve helped me enormously in many ways, as we worked to establish a research program in the foundations of quantum gravity and the emergence of spacetime. And along the way they tallied up truly impressive publication records (GR, JP). I especially enjoy that they didn’t just write papers with me, but also with other faculty, and with fellow students without involving professors at all.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing how Jason and Grant both continue to progress and grow as theoretical physicists. In the meantime, two more champagne bottles get added to my bookshelf, one for each Ph.D. student — Mark, Eugene, Jennifer, Ignacy, Lotty, Heywood, Chien-Yao, Kim, and now Grant and Jason.

Congrats!

  1. There is only so much an individual, no matter how talented, can accomplish in a single lifetime.

    Exponential accomplishment comes from enabling, supporting and harnessing accomplishment by others, especially in subsequent generations.

    In broken versions of Capitalism, it leads to the “1%”, where the few profit from the work of the many, and the existence of massive inherited wealth.

    In Academia, particularly education and research, it leads to the expansion of knowledge, and chains of citations extending back to the dawn of recorded knowledge.

    And, hopefully, a line of champagne bottles on a shelf.

    Well done!

    EDIT: Just noticed: Two more and you’ll have a case!

  2. What a great row of bottles! My wife has a few of our special occasions saved as empty bubbly

  3. magnificent congratulations to them – may their lives be filled with new concepts and happiness as more is learned about the cosmos. Imagine being a part of that! You lucky ducks!!

  4. Thank you Sean! It’s been an honor and privilege to have both you and Cliff as my advisors!

  5. You reminded me of one of my favorite memories of my late father, who was a professor of analytical chemistry. I sat with him one day as he chatted and caught up with one of his former PhD students (at that time also a professor himself), and as they said their farewells, Dad commented that he thought his biggest impact on science and the world was the students that he had taught and advised. Dad also had a special bookshelf row for the theses of all the Master’s and PhD students he’d worked with over his career…much like your row of champagne bottles.

  6. Congratulation, hope that Jason and Grant both continue to progress and grow as theoretical physicists in the future.