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 37 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, AAVSO Director Dr. Janet Mattei for 24 years. She very much enjoyed working with and learning from AAVSO Director Dr. Arne Henden for 10 years, and now AAVSO Director Dr. Stella Kafka. 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 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 - quality control and data processing; interacting with observers on a variety of issues; serving as Associate Editor of the Journal of the AAVSO and Editor of the AAVSO Newsletter; coordinating observing campaigns requested by professional astronomers; being primary assistant to the Director on annual scientific projects such as the AAVSO Bulletin (predicted dates of maxima/minima of 380 LPVs) and observing materials for the RASC Observer's Handbook and the Astronomical Almanac; and giving whatever assistance the Director requests with correspondence, proposal/report preparation, or other writing and/or evaluation. 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 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, needlework, reading, gardening, and variable star observing (a perennial beginner as she doesn't do it often enough to progress very far along the learning curve). After many years of camping and doing volunteer environmental work on the islands in Boston Harbor, she is enjoying exploring the numerous Audubon Society sites in Massachusetts. She is between cats.