What follows is the Acknowledgements section of my Ph.D. thesis. This is one area of every academic thesis that gets to show some personality, style, and politics, and I made sure to take advantage of that opportunity.
This thesis would not have been possible without the assistance of numerous colleagues, relatives, and others who provided aid at crucial times. Jean-Michel Weber, my thesis supervisor, was a frequent source of insight, motivation, recommended reading, and celebratory pizza outings, and for that, I owe him a debt of gratitude. Thanks are also due to John Prindiville, Teye Omlin, Jessie Nault, and Enrique Rodríguez for sharing valuable laboratory skills whose exercise forms the backbone and several organs of this thesis and for making the Weber lab warm, friendly, and inviting despite its unearthly air conditioning. Rebecca D’Onofrio, Linda Kimpe, Phillip Pelletier, Antoine Morin, Eric Bombardier, Paul Craig, Aziz al-Habsi, and Rance Nault all provided invaluable aid and insight in developing laboratory and statistical protocols and training me in their use. Bill Fletcher should receive a medal for his careful efforts to fit my fishes’ acclimation schedules and exposure needs into a shared aquatic facility, no small feat. My advisory committee—Thomas Moon, Jules Blais, and Steve Cooke—were likewise invaluable, going above and beyond this role to give me access to their laboratories and, in Steve’s case, to graduate students and collection permits for local wild fish. I thank Shireen Bliss and Keith Stamplecoskie for being those graduate students who led the collecting expeditions I had the brilliant fortune to be part of, which will remain a treasured memory hereafter.
Three fellow students deserve particular mention. André Odjélé, Luke de Freitas, and Benoît Pagé each put substantial hours into laboratory or statistical tasks whose results form part of this thesis. They have received (or soon will receive) co-authorship on the papers that benefited from those efforts. The time they spent assisting me built not only their futures, but mine, and I am indebted to them for their industriousness and talent.
I thank Éric Vaillancourt for being not just a colleague, but a resource, confidant, window back into the Hispanic world, source of delectable cured meats, and friend. You kept me from losing sight of what was in front of me, and such anchors in reality are rare and precious.
I must give thanks, also, to the nation of Canada and to the University of Ottawa. Neither was required to permit me to walk among its members, but they did, and the world that opened before me by their largesse makes what I knew before seem small and unreal. It is in Canada that I found myself, hidden beneath layers of fear and confusion, and brought her forward to face a new and sunlit world. It is in Canada that I would like to keep finding myself, because no other place feels like home anymore. Especially after my first poutine.
I extend rather more sardonic thanks to Laura Dindia, Matt Vijayan, Maxim Berezovski, Nasreen Khan, and Pavel Milman, who taught me the value of recognizing when people have given up on me. I likewise thank fellow graduate student and Centre for Inquiry volunteer Emily Cooper for wasting a colossal amount of my time by harassing me until I feared for my safety and filed a 40-page Incident Report with the Human Rights Office, because if she hadn’t done that, I would never have met the wonderful person that is Rosemary Dineen, current Chief Steward of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2626.
My family, as well, deserves thanks. I thank my mother, Marissa, and my father, Valentin, for funding my adventure in Canada despite never wanting me to leave, and for never actually going through with their serially repeated threats to cut off financial support over my having a different political leaning, religious sentiment, life partner, desired home country, career ambition, sexual orientation, and gender than they had picked out for me. I would not have finished this degree without the reliable appearance of several thousand of their dollars in my bank account every few months. I thank my grandmother, Rosa, and my grandfather, Celestino, for being immovable rocks of worried affection to whom I could turn even when the phones were dark and fearful in my parents’ home. I thank my brother, Christopher, and my sister, Melissa, for their immediate acceptance of the biggest event in my life, and the lifeline that they provided in the year that it was secret from the rest of them. I thank my godfather, Leonardo, for getting it.
I thank Tai Dickerson for understanding, empathy, entertainment, love, and utterly vital information that played a disproportionate role in one of the most important decisions I ever made. Thank you for helping me figure out who I am.
I thank Anna “Ania” Bula for being the person she is. There is no more effective way to explain the magnitude of her contribution to my life, and from there, the motivational force she has been for me. Few partners could be both as driven to achieve their own ambitions and as understanding of mine, while enduring the trials and upheavals that have beset us both. May the challenges that face Dr. Gonzalez and Mrs. Bula be new, different, and not half as nightmarish as what we’ve endured to get this far. Ania’s encouragement, love, and delicious, delicious foods have made this journey bearable, and no amount of thanks will ever be enough to return that joy.
I must also acknowledge the menagerie of pets that has enriched my life throughout the years. Tiny and Skipy (dogs), Baby and Reeses (cats), Chika (chicken), Purple Monkey (iguana), Mike and Ike (red-eared sliders), Lieutenant Turtle (mud turtle), a swarm of transient lizards from the backyard, the occasional snake or spider from same, and dozens of fish, crayfish, mollusks, and assorted other critters have shared my home with me, and they did more to cultivate my deep love of living creatures than virtually anyone else. My current collection of Tsuki and CJ (dogs), Agora and Watson (cats), A’tuin (Florida red-belly turtle), Cipactli (red-eared slider), Nanabush (painted turtle), a beloved 55-gallon miscellany of tropical fish, and Ania’s guppy-breeding project have brought much-needed serenity to a hectic life, and for that, this frazzled doctoral candidate owes them much. At least an enthusiastic belly-rub and some brine shrimp, really.