Behold: Alexander T. Rodack, Ph.D

Alexander T. Rodack began the day as any ordinary graduate student: tired, depressed, and wondering when, if ever, it will end? Well Alex, today is that day.

Welcome to having a doctorate from the College of Optical Sciences! I’m sure everyone who attended your dissertation defense thoroughly enjoyed your talk. And for those that weren’t present, I hope you post the recording somewhere for them to be amazed by the fruits of your labor (if they can understand what you’ve done, of course).

School’s out! Now go on and get to work at Raytheon!

Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer Lumbres!

The city of Tucson was made brighter today with the passing of Jhen’s PhD defense and a much-deserved level up. A huge round of applause for Dr. Lumbres!

Jhen’s talk was very comprehensive regarding her various projects she’s taken on during her time here at UArizona. If you’re like me, you learned a lot about the intricacies of Fresnel propagation and the problems that laser guide stars can solve. It was pretty surreal to me being that the last time I attended one of her talks was at the 2020 OpSci Winter School event when I was but a mere crouton in the world of optics and astronomy.

Moving forward, she’ll be relocating to sunny Los Angeles to work for Northrop-Grumman as an optical engineer and resident chocolatier early next year.

Salamat, Jhen! That’s a fancy Tagalog term that roughly translates to “may your hunts be fruitful and your arrows fly swift.” Or something like that. On second thought I think it just means thanks. We’ll miss you! (and your treats..!)

Song of the Day

Zweetkamertje—or—Congratulations Dr. Van Gorkom!

Our Dutch postdoc Sebastiaan Haffert has taught us many important terms (like “We at Toilet Duck recommend Toilet Duck!”), but the one most relevant today is zweetkamertje. As explained by Atlas Obscura, this is the “sweating room” where Ph.D. candidates in Leiden await the results of their doctoral exams.

This draft is being written (in part) during the sweating period of Kyle Van Gorkom’s Ph.D. defense.

But let’s back up a bit: Today, a pandemic-appropriate number of masked people filed in to Meinel 812 (and a much larger people joined online) to see Kyle Van Gorkom defend his Ph.D. research in adaptive optics. The view was excellent, but Jhen and Daewook had eyes only for Kyle.

Some pretty sweet mountains, you might say.

Mr. Van Gorkom (as he was then known) regaled us with tales of deformable mirror characterization and modeling. Battles won, vibrational modes damped, etc. (We will not talk about the IrisAO.)

The room was then closed for the committee to thoroughly examine him. We waited. Some of us blogged. Then, after some ritual hazing questioning, he was presented to us: Dr. Kyle Van Gorkom, Ph.D.!

A toast was called for.

The final test of the candidate is whether they can open a bottle of champagne. We are happy to report that he passed this as well, despite Susana’s evident skepticism.

And, after some initial difficulties, a toast was had! Congratulations, Dr. Kyle Van Gorkom!

Song of the Day

“Someday” by The Strokes

Congratulations to Dr. Lauren Schatz!

Resident pyramid expert Dr. Lauren Schatz defended her thesis work today, despite pandemic pandemonium. The field has decided to accept her (with minor revisions), and she will be joining the Air Force Research Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico later this year.

We’ll miss her a lot, but every wavefront sensed by MagAO-X will have her fingerprints on it. Well, not literally, that’d be bad optical science-ing. But you know what I mean.

We had all kind-of forgotten how to do the in-person rituals of academia, but we “reserved” a “conference room” and used a “projector.” We also set up Zoom, for good measure (and for everyone beyond the tiny occupancy limit imposed by These Unprecedented Times).

Masks were worn by all non-presenters, fear not.

Best wishes in all your future endeavors, Lauren!

Drs. Schatz and Males post-defense. The women of Optics make sashes to commemorate defenses, and this one was made by Dr. Silvana Ayala.

Song of the Day

You’ll find in time
All the answers that you seek
Have been sitting there just waiting to be seen
Take away your pride and take away your grief
And you’ll finally be right where you need to be

“Different Now” by Chastity Belt

Bonus Lauren

Have you ever unpacked a new optic and it turns out it was actually Lauren? (Photo: Jennifer Lumbres)

Congratulations Maggie, Madison, and Chris!

The school year has wrapped up and we’re about to head into summer. Usually we’re excited we survived the year at all, but this time we are celebrating the XWCL undergraduates graduating and completing their bachelor’s degrees! Chris, Maggie, and Madison have worked with us for the past couple years assisting on MagAO-X.

Chris joined us in 2016 as a computer science undergrad. He started working with Katie doing data reduction. Jared then poached him away to work a lot in the lab doing mostly hardware coding and is the original Basler camera whisperer. He is going to stick around with us for a few weeks to wrangle some more hardware control programming before journeying off to a real job with Fast Enterprises.

Congratulations, Chris!

Maggie joined us in 2017 as an optical sciences and engineering undergrad. She’s worked primarily with Laird on MagAO-X optomechanical design and alignment. She came along with us to SPIE last year and is part inventor with Laird on the optomechanical mount patent. She will be suffering sticking around with us this fall at UA for a PhD in optical sciences, where she will also be an NSF GRFP recipient. She is off to a summer internship in Baltimore at STScI working on HiCAT.

Maggie with Laird at the Optical Sciences commencement

Madison joined us in 2018 as an optical sciences and engineering undergrad. She worked with us part time last summer to help Lauren with the MagAO-X pyramid wfs alignment and joined us for the past school year doing quantum efficiency testing for a light source. She will be partially suffering sticking around this fall at UA for a MS in optical sciences. She is off to a summer internship in Boston at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

Madison with Jhen and Lauren at the Optical Sciences commencement

The MagAO-X PI has expressed an interest in the return of having a song with the blog posts. With the help of Joseph, we have a graduation-themed song for EACH of the undergrads:

For Chris, we have “Shut Up and Let Me Go” by the Ting Tings:

For Maggie, we have “Move On Up” by Curtis Mayfield:

For Madison, we have “Take Yourself With You” by Rose Linor Dougall:

Also, as tradition with the blog, here are quotes. The MagAO-X PI has some parting words for the graduating undergrads:

Jared: You’re here until you die*
*Source: “Look Down (Prisoners)” from Les Miserables

Congratulations again to the undergrads, XWCL is super proud of all the hard work you’ve done! Here’s to a fun and productive summer for everyone!