Trudy Griffin-Pierce was born December 27, 1949 in South Carolina to Ben and Trudy Griffin. Due to Ben Griffins career as an Air Force officer, she spent her childhood travelling including living in Florida, Hawaii, England and California. When she was 16 her mother died suddenly of an aneurysm which became a pivotal experience in her life. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida State University in printmaking and fine arts. While she was a student there she wrote to the Navajo Tribal Chairman asking if she could join a traditional Navajo family as a daughter. After spending time in Many Farms, Arizona with her Navajo family who she maintained a relationship with for the rest of her life, she returned to Florida to finish her degree. She returned to Arizona and enrolled at the University of Arizona as a graduate student in Fine Arts but switched to anthropology and earned a Master of Arts in museum studies in 1970. She worked as a curator at the Indian Pueblo Culture Center as well as at the Kitt Peak National Observatory museum. There she met Keith Pierce who she married in 1979. She returned to the University of Arizona and earned a doctorate in anthropology in 1987.
Dr. Griffin-Pierce specialized in medical anthropology and native cultures. She was an adjunct lecturer at the University from 1988 to 2003, assistant professor of anthropology from 2003 to 2008 and gained tenure as an associate professor in 2008. She authored six books including Earth is my Mother, Sky is my Father: Space, Time and Astronomy in Navajo Sandpainting 1992, Native Americans: Enduring Culture and Traditions 1996, The Encyclopedia of Native America 1995, Native Peoples of the Southwest 2000 which won the Alice Logan Writing Award in 2000, Chiricahua Apache Enduring Power: Naiches Puberty Ceremony Paintings 2007 which won the Southern Anthropological Society's James Mooney Award in 2008 and The Colombia Guide to American Indians of the Southwest 2010. Dr. Griffin Pierce was also an artist and did much of the art work for her books herself. She died January 6, 2009.
Austin Keith Pierce was born on October 2, 1918 in Tacoma, Washington to Tracy and Lucy Pierce. He was introduced early to telescopes as his father, a mathematics professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, who built telescopes at home. He attended the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, from 1936 to 1938 but eventually moved to Berkeley where he graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelor of Science degree in astronomy. He married Mildred Buell in 1941 and had three children, Barbara, John and Ross. During World War II he worked on uranium isotope separation at the E.O. Lawrence Radiation Laboratory calutron in Berkeley as well as in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He returned to Berkeley in 1945 and earned his doctorate in Astronomy in 1948 under Dr. C.D. Shane.
After graduation he was recruited by Leo Goldberg from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor to be a research assistant, he then moved to the McMath-Hulbert Observatory near Pontiac, Michigan. Dr. McMath found funding to develop the worlds largest solar telescope at Kitt Peak which Dr. Pierce helped site and design. He was appointed Associate Director in charge of the Solar Division which he held for 16 years. Dr. Pierce greatly contributed to work on the solar spectrum, especially the ultraviolet and infrared frontiers and was also a pioneer in the use of infrared and photoelectric detectors to make accurate measurements. At the 30th anniversary of the dedication of the McMath Solar Telescope in 1992 it was renamed the McMath Pierce Solar Telescope in honor of his contribution to the development of the facility. He died on March 11, 2005.