Farewell, my friend

I am sad. My PhD advisor at Cornell University, Prof George Paul Hess, has passed away. He was 92.

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I met George in the late 1990s, when he collaborated with my MS mentors at the UCC Medical School in Puerto Rico. He invited me to apply to Cornell’s graduate Field of Pharmacology in 1999 and the rest is history. Some of his academic accomplishments are documented here.

It is very difficult for me to articulate my feelings about his departure and express how much he meant for me. Obviously, I feel grateful for his guidance and support, which allowed me to complete my doctoral degree, but some of the things that I remember the most about him are only peripherally related to science.

**The times when I did not agree with his advice; he was almost invariably right.

**The time when my frustrations (not an uncommon accurrence in the graduate school experience) got the best of me and he invited me for a walk through campus to clear my mind.

**The time when I was going to have my telephone interview for my current academic position and he insisted that I take the call in his office privately so I wouldn’t be disturbed.

**The time when he met my family, who flew to Ithaca for my graduation. He was an attentive and gracious host to them…

**The time when, right after they offered me the job at West Chester University, I went all excited to tell him about the job and he said with a smile that he knew I would get it (and he really knew, someone called him before calling me!)… (:-).

**The times when I called him to see how things were going (I usually called him on his birthday). He sounded so happy for talking to me!

And many other times…

He was not only a top-notch scientist, he was a true mentor and educator. He really cared about placing his people at good places after leaving his research group. I know from very reliable sources how happy and proud he was with my career, and with my academic and scientific accomplishments. I will certainly try to keep working like that… It is how he would like me to do to honor his memory.

I will miss him dearly. Farewell, my friend.

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Above: The day of my PhD dissertation defense. George is the tallest one, I am the shortest…

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One Comment

  1. I am sorry for your loss. He sounds like a wonderful scientist and overall good person. He lived 92 productive and eventful years and leaves you with many fond, meaningful, and instructional memories. In other words, he died a rich man.

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