Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 exceeded my expectations in so many ways. I was really touched by having so many people in attendance for my dissertation defense. Friends and professors from math & stat, biology, and other departments, collaborators from the medical campus and from consulting outside the university, and my mom and brother. About 25-30 in all. My advisor, Edward Bedrick, provided a wonderful introduction that reminded me of the many ways I’ve connected with the UNM community: teaching (and awards), research assistantships (and publications), statistics department consultant, collaborations, and unicycling around campus those first few years. I was generally happy with my presentation and was grateful that Ed reminded me occasionally of points that I wanted to make but had forgotten to mention. He was also my champion whenever I tried to sell myself short, interjecting and saying that a particular point I was glossing over is nontrivial in theory and application. I had some positive feedback and am learning how to give better talks. My committee’s questions really helped me feel more like a peer, asking questions with the expectation that I might provide insight on a topic. They never asked a question with the goal to stump me or make me feel small. I felt supported, respected, encouraged, and welcomed into PhD family. What next? I’m now a postdoc at the Mind Research Network on the UNM campus in Albuquerque doing modeling for fMRI brain imaging data, see previous post. I’m completing my dissertation to submit to the university, writing papers from the dissertation, and organizing work on my other collaborations. These next couple years are going to challenging and exciting, frustrating and daunting, engaging and inspiring, and I’d better also say peaceful and tranquil so my mom thinks I’m getting some rest, too. Carpe data!