BrainWaves: The Neuroscience Graduate Program Newsletter

Good Night, and Good Luck: Reflections from Your (soon-to-be former) Associate Director

Author: Dr. Ryan Van Lieshout

It's hard to believe that it has been over four years since I stepped into the position of associate director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program, and nearly five years since I thought about applying for this job.

Despite its tribulations, it is with great fondness that I reflect on my time with the program. Most memorably, the position has given me an opportunity to meet almost all of our students, a group of individuals that consists of some of the most exciting and stimulating young people I have had the pleasure of interacting with. In addition to being incredibly bright, they are funny, cultured, and just, demonstrating a level of integrity that has been a source of inspiration not only for me, but for many of our faculty as well.

I have learned many valuable lessons during this time: the importance of honesty, impartiality, compromise, and collaboration, as well as the value of being familiar with perhaps the most mundane tome anyone will have the displeasure of reading: McMaster's Graduate Calendar. During my time as Associate Director, I have learned to shift the way I see tribulations from viewing them as big problems to identifying them as learning opportunities. I think that seeing the learning value in the most difficult situations I have faced has meant the difference between getting burned out and experiencing significant personal growth. Certainly, it has freed me up to meet my objectives relatively encumbered rather than becoming mired in my many neuroses.

Whether obvious or not, the primary objective of my time in the program was to help the members of our program get to know a little bit more about the program and each other. I am very proud of the students who have helped to bring BrainWaves (our bi-monthly newsletter) to fruition, and who continue to help us tell the stories of the students, faculty, and initiatives of our program.  


While my replacement has not yet been identified, I can say with great conviction having worked closely with Flavio Kapczinski, that he is not only a fantastic researcher and leader (and overall nice guy), but a committed advocate for students and our program as a whole. Under his direction, the program has a very bright future indeed.


I have valued my time as Associate Director of our program greatly and know that I will be able to put all of the lessons I have learned to work in my new position as Director of the MD/PhD Program. As I look toward that future, I am reminded of the words of Shakespeare (and Edward R. Murrow): Cassius was right, the fault dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves. Good night, and good luck.