Who Put the Pomp?

I’ve been busy the last few weeks, writing documents for the Planck SGS RR, grant proposals, getting ready for the exam season, and (I know I can’t complain), travelling to the Aegean.

But this afternoon I took a few hours off and attended the Imperial College postgraduate degree ceremony. In and amongst the several hundred students received their degrees were all three of my first students (I celebrated their successful PhD vivas here, here and here). There were a couple of short speeches, and a few honorary degrees awarded (the morning ceremony gave one to F1 head and infamous labour donor Bernie Ecclestone), but most of the time was taken up by the students marching up one at a time and shaking the hand of an Imperial luminary. In addition to my students, their were a few other astrophysics PhDs awarded, including to Dr Brian May, who got (by far) the biggest cheer of the day. Me, I got the rare honor of sitting on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall, in my academic regalia (American PhDs robes are heavier than those from the UK, for reasons that escape me, not ideal for a couple of hours under stage lights — and it now appears that my hood wasn’t even the proper maroon and black combo that my Chicago degree apparently calls for).

I admit I was inordinately proud of my students, in my meagre supervisory role as Doktorvater (to use the excellent Germanic term for supervisor): they’ve all done fantastic theses, important science, and most importantly by the end I was able to just get out of the way while they did the hard work. Congratulations again to each of them.