Acknowledgements

Many people have been a part of my graduate education, as friends, teachers, and colleagues. Lars Bildsten, first and foremost, has been all of these. The best advisor and teacher I could have wished for, he is actively involved in the work of all his students, and clearly always has their best interest in mind. Thank you for pushing me. Time after time, his easy grasp of physics at its most fundamental level helped me in the struggle for my own understanding. On the personal side, he did not hesitate to invite his students to become an extended part of his family. I appreciated this immensely, and it was a joy to have even a small part in the lives of his daughters, Erika and Mariel. I was also fortunate to have been a member of the Bildsten group at Berkeley. Lars, Greg Ushomirsky, Ed Brown, Andrew Cumming, Mike Eracleous, and Bob Rutledge were an incredible group, with whom I had many productive scientific discussions, and many beers. Thanks especially Greg and Ed for answering my numerous computer questions, and to Mike (and also Deepto Chakrabarty) for acting as my observational co-advisors, without ever really having been asked.

In my office in Campell Hall, I was surrounded by knowledgeable and friendly people who helped me daily. My office mate, Sienny Shang, has been a great source of practical information, as well as being happy to be the first to hear my outrage or glee at the day's current events. My other neighbors, including Ed Moran, Magdalen Normandeau, Jay Anderson, Tony Wong, Mike Liu, Andrew Youdin, Andrea Somer, Andrea Gilbert, Doug Leonard, Tony Allen, Lexi Moustakas, and Jonathan Baker were each a great help in their own way. Magdalen, thank you for all the vegan cookies. Tony A., thank you for your humor. Thanks also to Joe Barranco for brightening my days with his visits and his outlook, and to Dan Plonsey, who has been a friend and provided excellent computer support. Much thanks also to Geoff Marcy and James Graham for coming by late at night to check on me. At Lick Observatory, where I spent many nights, I also had the good fortune to work with the support astronomers Tony Misch and Rem Stone, who patiently dealt with all my questions.

In addition to the people in Campbell, I have lucky enough to have the support of many good friends. Life would not have been the same without my classmates John Monnier and Ben Metcalf. Eric Fincke always provided a healing touch, and with my other ONLY-FUN friends Jack Kotovsky, TJ Cradick, and Elizabeth Cooper, always made me feel loved. Monica Barney and Neal Weiner were also extremely important to me while I was writing, with Neal approaching hero status in the final month. I also appreciate the friendship of Dapo Sorungbe, my connection to music.

The road to my graduate degree has been long and winding, so I would also like to thank some people from the early days. Richard Levien, Salim Nasser, Hilary Oliver, David Fox, Arianna Eberhardt, Sydney Ludvigson, Cindy Damon, and Sarah Keller were among those who kept me going at the beginning. From the very early days, I feel a lasting gratitude toward Danny Ziskin and also Jean-Marc Perelmuter, who I watched go through this long before I did. Meg Urry and Claude Canizares gave me my first opportunities in astrophysics, and were both excellent advisors. Tahir Yaqoob and Charles Day were friends and role-models when I was just considering graduate school. They seemed to assume that I would do fine, and this helped me more than they know. I also appreciate the assistance I received from the students and faculty at ISAS, in Japan. I have gotten much support from other women in science at every step, from advisors, to friends and classmates, to students. I couldn't have made it without these sisters.

Finally, I would like to thank those closest to me, whose presence helped make the completion of my graduate work possible. These are Morgan Mitchell, my best friend for the past 6 years, Laura Lising, Robin Benedetti, Chris Matzner, Jen Burch, the most reliable friend one could have, Tom Humphries, and Jennifer West. I also am thankful to Dan Brace, who shared my happiness, and made me happy. Brian Smith, thanks for the love, patience and understanding, and the assurance that the taxpayers wanted me to get back to work. Most of all, I would like to thank my family, and especially my parents, for their absolute confidence in me. The knowledge that they will always be there to pick up the pieces is what allows me to repeatedly risk getting shattered.