Officially Ph-inishe-D!!!

On February 2014, I successfully defended my Phd Thesis in Alcala de Henares, Spain. It was the end of a quite long journey, starting from 2009, that ended happily in a cloudy day last year.

Despite having completed the PhD, it certainly did feel like it, cause I didn’t have my diploma in my hands! Not until today when I visited the Spanish Embassy in Athens to receive a package that arrived…!

Minutes after visiting the embassy, I opened the cylinder and took my PhD papyrus out! Now, I am reliving the joy of the completion of the PhD and the sense of achievement that comes with! Here’s a part of my diploma, below!


Signed by the King of Spain (!), with the magic word “Doctor”, complemented with the “Doctor Internacional” attribute some lines below! I wish I could receive a copy of this every year or so, just to get the same feeling over and over again! How cool would that be? To conclude this “small” self-promoting post, I would like to quote the acknowledgement section of my PhD, just to say one more thank you to all the people that helped me through this adventure!


“It seems really amazing how someone can go on and on, mumbling for almost 300 pages about metadata, but get completely stuck when called upon to write two pages of acknowledgements! I am trying really hard to summarize the journey of the past five years, into a couple of cohesive and accurate sentences. I cannot do it on my own; not without borrowing some words at least. Konstantinos P. Kavafis said it already in his poem “Ithaca”: “Ithaca has given you the beautiful journey. Without her you would not have set out on the
road. Nothing more does she have to give you”.

My PhD study, has been the perfect analogy to my personal Ithaca that I finally reached. An Ithaca not only related to the PhD study itself, but also an Ithaca of an endless list of personal ups and downs that made these five years a period of my life that I will never forget. To begin with, during this journey I have had the priviledge to work with many inspiring and above all, generous colleagues and friends that did more than they had to, asking less than they deserved in return. Hannes (Ebner), you’ ve been an enormous help in the first and most important experiment of my PhD with all the technical support. But above all, you have shared with me the agony for my PhD as I did with yours. Beers and laughing sure did the trick for me and I hope that you are also completing your thesis as we speak.

Kostas (Makris), thank you for being there, despite the hectic schedule, to provide me with data from the Natural Europe project on demand, no matter the time or day of the week. Vassilis (Protonotarios), thank you for deploying the peer review experiments in a couple of cases, but most of all thanks for taking the time to understand and apply all the crazy ideas I came up within the projects you worked. Miguel (Refusta), thanks a lot for replying to all the requests for data from VOA3R from this crazy Greek (that’s me), even if they went a bit outside your job description. Charalampos (Thanopoulos), thanks for allowing me to meddle with your workshops and sessions, to test my assumptions and theories. Effie (Tsiflidou), thanks for collecting data, presenting work and analyzing data for this final part of the PhD study. I hope that this has been a useful experience for you and also that I can return the favor helping out with your dissertation. Miguel-Angel (Sicilia) thank you for supporting my decision to start a PhD with the University of Alcala de Henares some time ago. Most of all, thank you for knowing when to intervene, silently and gracefully to keep me in track with my obligations. Pythagoras (Karampiperis), thanks for “tricking” me into publishing my first journal paper during a time that I was really over-researching instead of just writing! I always though of myself for smarter than that, but you managed to trick me, so hats-off to you!

Salvador (Sanchez-Alonso), words cannot express the gratitude I feel for all the honest feedback, kind support but also hard  mentorship that got me through this experience in one piece! Thank you for keeping the balance for me, and I am sorry if sometimes I have been late with my obligations. Nikos (Manouselis), we have known each other since March 2005 and I know that the fact that I recall this, is a bit scary. If I had to complete a LOM metadata record to describe you, under the element Lifecycle.Contribute.Role, the values I would assign would be: “family”, “friend”, “colleague”, “mentor” and “boss”, in this exact order. I know that supervising me, has been a pretty hard “exercise” on you, because of all these connections between us. Especially for that, and knowing how hard I can be to handle, I owe you a big thank you for the fantastic job you did. Through hard decisions, problems and revisions of PhD topics, you always offered your experience and guidance, but mainly instilled in me a way of working and dealing with problems that will follow me through the course of my professional and personal life from this day on. Thank you. Apart from the “scientific” contributors to the PhD work, there are also the people that had to put up with me on a daily basis during the times of crisis and doubt, when I became less than bearable.

Mom (Katerina Vayena), you have shown me how it is to find peace in chaos for as long as I can remember. You have proven to me that nothing is impossible and I know that you are the only person in my life that believes there’s nothing I cannot do, making me believe it myself. Dad (Giorgos Palavitsinis), I know you’re still trying to figure out what on earth I am studying! You have balanced Mom’s chaos with order and method and you should know that this is what keeps me in track, most of the times. Alex (Palavitsinis), music is what I owe to you. Your music, your performances and success through these years have given me equal amounts of joy as the completion of this PhD does, really. You have been my reality-check to what really matters. Dimitris (Gogas), thank you for listening to all the nagging and complaints and for changing the topic to something more pleasant, each time! Giannis (Antoniou), thank you for being the best teammate I ever had, both in the court, helping me to blow off the steam, but mainly outside the court, being among the few that really understood and managed to help me through this. Yiouli (Dr. Kritikou), I was lucky to “find” you, in a workshop, half way through my PhD adventure. I was fortunate to have you close, sharing the burden and your PhD experiences every step of the way. Words are too limited to describe the ways in which you helped me. You sacrificed more than you had to, and this made the PhD way easier for me to handle. Thank you for being, among other things, my personal doctor for all of this…

Pappou (Nikos Vayenas), I have inherited your name and a couple of characteristics and character traits to go with it! You could have never known that I started a PhD or that I finished it, let alone have anything to do with it. Yet you did, as you have always been there, in flesh and in spirit, from the day I was born, supporting and caring for me as you did for all of us.”


2 thoughts on “Officially Ph-inishe-D!!!

  1. It has always been a pleasure working with you during these years… a lot of memories, a lot of experiences and a lot of hard work! I owe you a big one for what I am doing right now and I’ll never forget that 🙂

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