To Nathan Dunfield, a special thanks from Brian Benson for “supporting me with his time, effort and sometimes financially through his research grant throughout my six years at the university.”
To Richard Laugesen, a long-distance thanks for mentoring the future UC-Riverside math professor “as an unofficial adviser when it became clear my thesis project was taking on a new direction, even providing me with research funding from one of his grants. I think that is one of many stories which illustrate the strong collaborative culture within the mathematics department at Illinois.”
And to the owners of Zorba’s and Rosati’s, thanks not only for finding a spot on your staffs for a Ph.D. student with bills to pay — but for your flexibility in makng out the work schedule.
“While walking across the Quad or past the Alma Mater to Altgeld Hall will always remind me how fortunate I am to have attended the University of Illinois, I am also very appreciative of two local establishments and their respective owners for allowing me to work for hours at a time,” Benson says.
“I made great progress studying to pass my written comprehensive exams at Zorba’s, where I would sometimes take breaks to talk about sports with then-owner Matt Mortenson and his daughter, Danielle.
“After the unfortunate fire that occurred at Zorba’s in 2011, I began working for long hours on my thesis project at Rosati’s in Urbana, while eating chicken sandwiches and drinking tea.
"Similar to my experience at Zorba’s, Rosati’s owner Shane Morrison was very hospitable and we would each take breaks from our work to discuss sports.”