Tuesday I had the enormous privilege of attending Katie’s public PhD dissertation defense. What an incredible moment it was as my wife stood before her colleagues and presented her research findings, the culmination of her last six years of work and the reason for our cross-country move to North Carolina!
To be clear, Katie’s dissertation research was fraught with challenges. Her initial target group became reluctant to participate after the 2016 election. She had to change her research subjects on the fly but ultimately managed to recruit dozens of participants and maintained 90% of them over the full year of her longitudinal study. Some of the data she collected posed great difficulty in analysis such that Katie unexpectedly had to develop new methods to process them.
In addition to these direct challenges, we also had significant indirect challenges in our personal life. We experienced four pregnancy losses during this time period and, as much as these heartbreaking events affected us both emotionally, Katie bore the brunt of their effects physically. She lost months of time recovering from these losses – not to mention dealing with the challenges (nausea, etc.) of being pregnant in the first place!
Then, when we finally had a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, those were certainly joyous times – but just as certainly not times that lent themselves very well to deep time and focus on research! Not long after our baby was born, Katie interviewed, was hired, and began a job at Duke University, where she has been thriving for the last year while writing her dissertation in parallel. Oh and, by the way, Katie has been an amazing partner to me / mother to our child the entire time!
It has not been a straightforward or easy road for Katie but, despite that, she persevered and accomplished her goal. There are still some revisions to be completed but the major hurdle of defending her thesis against leaders in her field has been passed with flying colors. Her strength, resilience, and competence is inspiring – not only to me but it certainly will be to our toddler as well.
I have been in awe of / inspired by / in love with smart women since literally the day I was born. Some, like my mom, had no choice but to be stuck with me. Katie, however, actually chose to spend the rest of her life with me and to build a family together. I’m not sure I deserve it but I’m grateful for it every day. And, on days like this, I’m just so damn proud of who she is and what she has accomplished.
Congratulations to the soon-to-be Dr. Katie!