My advisor, Cliff Nass, passed away yesterday. It’s hard for everyone who knew him, of course, for so many reasons.
He was an ally to many of us, someone we knew would help us out and stand up for us.
He was enthusiastic, bringing up our spirits when grad school and life were brining us down.
I have heard so many other PhD students complain about their advisors. It seems that the norm in academia is to have an advisor that is more adversarial than anything. For a lot of PhD students, getting along with their advisor is a struggle and working with them is a trial.
Cliff was the opposite of all that. Clearly a loving father, he provided that same energy wherever he was, supporting ideas that you might have not thought worthy of speaking out loud, providing you with a new perspective to see your own work as something that might help the world. A brilliant researcher, you respected his opinion and were buoyed by his enthusiasm.
A rare ally was lost.