By Amy L. Ai, Ph.D.
Chris Peterson was both an intellectual giant and also an incredibly modest and kind person. In fact, he was the most modest and kind person I have encountered in my life. These traits cannot be overstated. How sad it is when such a superstar falls.
Our first meeting, about 20 years ago at his old office at the University of Michigan, remains vivid in my mind today. I approached him when he openly spoke against the anti-Asian attitude in a university newspaper article—an Asian doctoral student murdered colleagues at the University of Iowa. Out of that first face-to-face meeting, he became my mentor and then was dissertation chair, co-author, and co-principal investigator. Our strong working relationship continued for many years after I left Ann Arbor.
Chris had a great sense of humor, and it was a joy to work with him. This may be one of the reasons why students at all levels loved him; there was always a long waiting line outside of his office. When I received my distinguished dissertation award at the UM Rackham Graduate School, Chris offered a humorous introduction for my study: "I have been on 59 committees and Amy's dissertation is the first to win this honor. I haven't known anyone who has linked cardiac surgery with LISREL (i.e., software for structural equation modeling). Now, I have learned that cabbage (i.e., CABG) is not just a vegetable but also open-heart surgery!" Everybody could not hold their laughter. Chris's mentorship altered my life forever; numerous other students, taught and mentored by him, feel the same.