Congratulations Dr. Logan Pearce!

It’s been quite a week for our intrepid veteran-turned-teacher-turned-professional-astrophysicist. The hardest part of the dissertation defense is usually scheduling it at a time all your committee members can attend, and this time was no different. In true Texan style, Logan lassoed her committee and roped them in to a defense in-person and online this June 11th, 2024.

Unfortunately, I was only able to watch the public portion of the defense from afar via Zoom. I also vicariously enjoyed Logan’s big day through the subsequent vignettes dropped context-free in our Slack’s #blog-ops channel.

(I think of these as a sort of wishful thinking. Posters wish a blog post into existence by posting things that might illustrate it. Well, who am I to deny them?)

Logan began with a title slide crammed full of the stuff she’s been working on these past five years:

That’s me in the picture! I’m in the “18” by “Participants” on Zoom! (Photo by Eden McEwen)

She gave an overview of MagAO-X, for which she published the first ever peer-reviewed science paper using the instrument:

Twinkly star goes in, scienceable star comes out. Any questions? (Photo by Eden McEwen)

Gave the people what they crave (i.e. astronomical discoveries):

We got one, folks! (Actually, eight.) (Photo by Eden McEwen)

And let us know where we can find her in the near future:

At the Michigellan Telescopes, of course (Photo by Eden McEwen)

Because we’ve never been sticklers about anything*, the party to celebrate Logan’s defense took place before the successful conclusion of the defense. Frankly, I’m gutted to have missed it. Fortunately, former-pastry-chef-future-Dr. Jay Kueny made Logan’s favorite pineapple buns in my stead. (No doubt with Melanie’s help!)

*Except label maker use, circus activities, and other important lab rules.

I’m told a pastry chef can make a pretty darn good pineapple bun (on the first try, too!)

Meanwhile, back in linear time, Logan was locked in a room(/Zoom) with four dangerous scientists and had to escape with only her wits. The labmates / COVID bubble-mates group chat—now scattered between California, New Mexico, Tucson, and New York—waited anxiously for word that Logan had surmounted her final academic trial.

Did she beat school?

Dear readers, of course she did.

The group chat accordingly recognized the ascension:

A full program of celebrations was called for, beginning with further chef magic from Jay.

By “chef magic” I am of course referring to how Jay just happened to have non-alcoholic Grand Marnier on-hand. (Photo by Eden McEwen)

The Cardboard Crowning of newly-minted Ph.D.s is a tradition as old as the academy itself. (Don’t quote me on that.) So, naturally, Logan was not about to get away without a hat pointing out what giant nerd just got all doctorfied.

From now on, you have to wear that getup to do astronomy. It’s the rules. (Photo by Eden McEwen)

Some more glamour shots of the extremely regal crown Eden made:

Celebrations for Logan continued that evening with beers at the site of her triumphs, with a special guest appearance by the Director of Steward Observatory and head of the Department of Astronomy at University of Arizona: Dr. Buell Jannuzzi.

Logan’s miniature MagAO-X crafting project (Photo by Eden McEwen)

What’s that he’s looking at? Well, there might be a blog post about that soon. Sure looks like there’s a dang viscacha in that instrument.

Song of the Day

Today’s song of the day is brought to you by the temperature delta between June in Tucson (high: 109ºF) and Michigan (high: 84ºF).

“Too Darn Hot” by Ella Fitzgerald (really, the definitive version, don’t you think?)

Bonus Hedgehog

I modeled this hedgehog in a Ph.D. tam for Logan with the intent of getting it 3D printed. Turns out 3D metal printing is, like, expensive. But it was too good to keep to myself.