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Elizabeth O. Waagen


Elizabeth started working at the AAVSO in the summer of 1979, fresh out of Smith College with an A.B. in Astronomy. She says her "one-year position to process data, help with the Journal of the AAVSO, and help the Director with her international correspondence" has turned into an extraordinary 30 years (and counting)! Variable star astronomy, the AAVSO, and her job have all evolved greatly. She has found it an incredibly exciting time, and she has been thrilled to be part of it. She says she looks forward to all this evolution continuing.

Elizabeth says she can honestly say she has never had a day when she hasn't wanted to come to work; she thinks AAVSO Headquarters is a wonderfully exciting and challenging place! The constantly shifting priorities—but with projects that still have to be accomplished and deadlines met—make each day unique: a day's (or week's) planned schedule may have to be completely restructured because of what a phone call, email, or visitor may bring. She admits that there are times that are difficult or frustrating, usually due to time crunches. What helps then, and what makes all the other times great, is the nature of the AAVSO and AAVSO Headquarters. She is grateful to be with an organization that has such a worthy mission, incredibly dedicated members and observers, and such a very special set of colleagues (staff and volunteer) at Headquarters who are a true team and are like a family. She cherished the privilege to work for and with, and to learn from, Janet Mattei. The interactions with the international astronomical and educational communities are stimulating, instructive, and rewarding. For what more could one ask?

Elizabeth served as Interim Director, a position she held after late Director Janet Mattei was taken ill in September 2003. As Interim Director she was responsible for management of the AAVSO and its programs, in conjunction with the organizational leadership of the AAVSO Executive Board and Council. She returned to her former position (Senior Technical Assistant) when Dr. Arne Henden became the AAVSO Director on March 1, 2005.

As Senior Technical Assistant, and like everyone else at Headquarters, she has certain operations for which she is responsible and she helps out wherever else help is needed. Her main areas of responsibility include working with the AAVSO International Database - including data processing and quality control; interaction with the observers on a variety of issues; Associate Editorship of the Journal of the AAVSO; being primary assistant to the Director on numerous annual scientific projects including the AAVSO Bulletin (predicted dates of maxima/minima of 562 LPVs), predicted dates of maxima for Sky & Telescope magazine, and observing materials for the RASC Observer's Handbook and the Astronomical Almanac; giving whatever assistance the Director requests with correspondence, proposal/report preparation, or other writing and/or evaluation; and "minding the store" when the Director is away from Headquarters. Over the years she has done most things at Headquarters, and she used to enjoy her frequent tussles with the keypunch machines, ink duplicator, and other now-extinct things mechanical at HQ. She loves the many opportunities she has to give talks about variable stars and the AAVSO, its programs, and its possibilities to professional and amateur audiences.

When Elizabeth isn't at the AAVSO, she enjoys large- and small-group singing, gardening, camping and doing environmental work on the islands in Boston Harbor, needlework, reading, and variable star observing (a perennial beginner as she doesn't do it often enough to progress along the learning curve). She particularly treasures being able to care for her mother (now 90!), who moved to this area in 2002 and with whom she now shares a home. She is between cats.

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