John and I holding the lab’s defense gift of a basketball jersey with the number eleven for being the 11th graduating student from John’s lab.

I wanted to take a moment and reflect on all of the people who contributed to my successful graduation. I want to thank Mel, for traversing all of the lows of the program with me – she was always a light during dark times – and for working around my crazy schedule - we made it!; my parents who fed my curiosity as a kid through YSI (Youth Science Institute) camps and have given me their unwavering support in whatever I pursue; my sister Megan, for becoming my personal admin and responding to scheduling emails during the hectic interview season; the new additions to my family, the Hermans for their willingness to accept me as one of their own; to my friends and extended family who put up with my lack of free time and didn’t mind when there were long gaps between hangs; and my classmates, for taking an “old geezer”, coming back to the wards under their wings. It feels like 8 years went by so fast, but when I start to sift through all the wonderful memories, I realize how much has happened and been accomplished.

From a scientific perspective, I am eternally grateful to John for trusting that a “laconic” (his word, not mine) Californian could learn how to code quickly enough to perform a largely computational thesis. In all seriousness, my time in the lab was a pleasure, riffing with someone bubbling with new ideas and collaborations. More than his scientific acumen, John’s leadership style is what I hope to emulate most as I progress in my career. He is constantly trying to build up those around him, and it’s a contagious philosophy that he sets for the lab. I can’t imagine a more supportive and learning-conducive environment. And therefore, I am also thankful for my labmates who even banded together as my thesis deadline drew closer to help me over the finish line. I’d be remiss if I did not mention Masako who was not only my lab “baymate” but also the resident expert in pretty much everything. I’ll miss our “hungry friend” lunches and chocolate times (see PMID: 23050509 for rationale ;-P).

From a cutaneous perspective, I was fortunate that Drs. Halverstam and Cohen allowed a random MD/PhD (who took his sweet time figuring out his specialty path) to see dermatology through their eyes and practices. They, along with Dr. Choate, convinced me that a career as an academic dermatologist would be the perfect fit for me, and I’m ecstatic to be training at Yale with Dr. Choate acting as my research guru over the next 4 years.

And finally, shout out to the shout out from the Einstein’s Communications and Public Affairs office: