Andrew McAllister


January 22, 2019 | 6 Minute Read

"Let me not be so vain to think that I am the sole author of my victories and a victim of my defeats."

An Invocation For Beginnings, Ze Frank

I have many, many people to thank for helping me be able to get my PhD. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but remember that I did not finish this without support that started when I was very small and continues to this day.

Thank you to my parents, who bought me as many books as I wanted, took me to the library often, let me explore the things I was interested in, drove me places, gave me food, put a roof over my head and reminded me that I did not work for the electric company. If only we had LED bulbs 20 years ago. I could write an entire dissertation on the many ways you have given me love and support over the years. Thank you for everything.

Thank you to my brother Stephen, for being my constant companion growing up and now. From smashing Lego cars to playing Rock Band to reading job applications. Thank you for always being there for me.

My family as a whole has been so supportive and encouraging throughout my life. Even when they don’t understand exactly what I’m doing. Thank you to Steve, Steph, Henry, Ed, Christine, John, Barbara², Kenny, Sandy, Brooke, Sean, Sandra, Alex, Sam, Scott, Ben and Abby. You all are a part of what makes coming home special. I’d also like to thank Gene, Archie, Andrew, Stella, Geraldine, and Tom who won’t be able to see my graduate, but I know would have been proud.

Thank you to Liz, who got me the The Big Book of Tell Me Why (all three volumes!) and for always being shorter than me. Let me know if you need another set of eyes for your own thesis.

Thank you to all the teachers that that I have had – both those that made the deep impacts I can enumerate here and those whose impacts I have forgotten or didn’t even notice.

I’m thankful for the many mentors I’ve had over the years. Including Peter Kramer, Mark Holmes and Brad Lister for first letting me get my feet wet with research in the Math department at RPI. I appreciate the guidance you gave me even if I did wind up going to physics. For Peter Persans who helped me throughout my time at RPI. You gave me good advice, let me do research in your lab, have written (many) letters of recommendation and generally have been an amazing source of knowledge and help. And of course, my advisor Emmanouil Kioupakis who has been amazingly helpful throughout this process. You’ve taught me much about physics, doing research, and being a scientist, but you also let me explore things that I was interested in on my own. Without that freedom graduate school would not have been as enjoyable. I also really appreciate that you didn’t pick out a big snake to fight during my defense.

For my colleagues in the Kioupakis research group. You’ve made time in the office and at conferences not just great for expanding my knowledge but also fun. From Dylan and Guangsha who were there to teach me the basics when I joined to to Kyle and Olivia who I’ve only know for a few months. Thank you to everyone: Dylan, Guangsha, Jihang, Alex, Logan, Christina, Kelsey, Nocona, Sahil, Kevin, Mike, Zihao, Suvadip, Sieun, Woncheol, Kyle and Olivia. It’s amazing to be able to go to work and know that you’ll get to see a bunch of friends throughout the day.

Thank you to the Applied Physics program for being my family while so far away from home. For Cagliyan, Cindy, and Lauren who have helped me out throughout my time here. For all my fellow graduate students, especially my 2012 cohort, thanks for the board games, the D&D, and the late night homework sessions.

Thank you to my science communication friends here at Michigan. You’ve helped me gain so many skills and figure out better ways to explain the complicated world of research. Thank you in particular to the RELATE program (and Elyse, Katie, Brandon and Brian), Michigan Science Writers and the team that put on ComSciCon Michigan. All of these programs (and more) have helped me figure out what I’ll be doing now that my PhD is over.

Thank you to my many friends for sticking with me over the past 6 years. In particular Hanh and Diana who have been friends for so long and constantly challenge me to think differently. Thank you for being so thoughtful and supportive. Thank you to Padula who just a few months ago reminded me of how long I have been working on getting my PhD and how exciting it was to finally be there. Thank you to Adam, Dave, and Sara for Birthday Smash weekends and many other things. And of course thanks to Ramon, my roommate and friend throughout my PhD.

I can’t forget to thank my partner and best friend Chrissy. I’ve been lucky to have you by my side now for three years and I’m looking forward to many more. Your support and love has made this whole thing (and especially the last few months) much less stressful. Not only have I found a best friend and partner with you, but I’ve been welcomed by your family who have also been supportive in such a short time.

While this section is long it is also incomplete. I cannot include everyone who has helped me over the years. Even if I tried I’d be bound to forget someone. So again, thank you to everyone who has been a part of supporting me throughout my PhD or my life, either in big or small ways.

Professionally, I also need to thank many funding sources for helping me throughout my PhD. The National Science Foundation (Graduate Research Fellowship (DGE-1256260), CAREER (DMR-1254314) and DMREF (1534221)) funded most of my work. The research on radiation detection was funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration Office of Nonproliferation and Verification (NA-22).

In addition, I must thank the National Energy Research and Computing Center (NERSC), University of Michigan Advanced Research Computing (ARC-TS), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) for providing me with access to high-performance computing resources. Without these supercomputers my research would not be possible. I also want to thank the support staff for these various centers for helping me when issues arose.

Finally, I thank you to the developers of Quantum Espresso, BerkeleyGW and Wannier90. These codes, made freely available, formed the foundation of this work and wouldn’t be possible without it.

This is the acknowledgments section in the beginning of my thesis earned at the University of Michigan. The whole thesis will be available soon, both officially through the University and here on my website.