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  • Writer's pictureMadeleine Brodbeck

Remembering David

David, one of my brilliant supervisors, was diagnosed with ALS the year I started my phD. He passed away on April 19th 2023. Consequently, this was also the same day that I got my first publication with him as an author published.


The week before he passed, I went to a conference called CO3 (conference on comparative cognition). CO3 is also the first conference I had ever attended, as a bright eyed bushy tailed undergrad. In so many spaces I feel like the "psychologist in the biologist space" or the "biologist in the psychologist space" or just "oh that one person who works with animals" - "animals can think?".... At CO3, I am with people speaking my research language. It's a special place.


I had been meeting with David frequently online up to the point that he died. The last message he sent me told me to have a great time at the conference. I don't think I had ever had such a good time at an academic conference before. Thanks, David. When I returned, I found out that he was gone.


So many people in my life were connected to David. Our lab was such a force - and I had made connections with my lab mates there that I had never made in my life before. Part of that was because of David. My parents knew David. Everyone in the building I'd been working in for 8 years knew David. Everyone in the field (especially those at CO3 - he had recently been honoured there) knew him. He supported me so much throughout my career - in so many ways - I know I wouldn't be the same person if he weren't in my life. Thanks, David.


There are so many things I can say about him, and I know it will never be enough. I will never be satisfied with what I can say about him because there are too many amazing moments. So much I am grateful for. So many things I learned from him. Content, yes, as he had a wealth of information on just about any topic. But far more than any content, I learned things about how to be a good person. When I am losing my patience now, I try to remember what would he do? Ah, he would be eloquent, patient, understanding, and I've been trying very hard to channel that energy. Thanks, David.


Anytime I see an octothorpe, a boustrophedon pattern, the wu-tang clan, walk into Angelo's, pour an espresso, watch Spirited Away, hear a chickadee, or talk to a student who is frustrating me, I will think of him.


I am so grateful he was in my life. So often at the end of our meetings, I would thank him. Somehow he alleviated all my anxiety after a meeting. You'll always be around in so many people's minds and hearts.


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