AstroTech Career Pathways Roundtable Discussion Guests

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Claire Poppett

Invited Guest

Claire Poppett is an Assistant Research Physicist at Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley. She received a PhD from the University of Durham in the UK and then moved to Lawrence Berkeley National Lab as a postdoc. Her expertise is in ground based astronomical instrumentation – loves designing and building hardware and then watching the instrument work! Claire’s primary role over the past few years has been as the lead fiber scientist for the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) for which she has also contributed to DESI imaging surveys and instrument commissioning. In the past Claire has worked on space instrumentation such as FUV for ICON, and other ground based astronomical instruments such as the Keck Planet Finder. In the near term future she will act as a DESI lead observer at Kitt Peak in Tucson. The remainder of her time will be spent working on new instrumentation such as FOBOS for Keck and SDSS-V.

Jessica Lu

AstroTech Co-Principal Investigator and Lead Instructor

Jessica Lu is an Associate Professor of Astronomy at University of California Berkeley. Her specialty areas include Adaptive optics (AO), Astrometry, Black holes, Stars, Galactic Centers, Optical/infrared instrumentation. Prof. Lu works on several instrumentation teams that aim to improve AO and astrometry from the ground and space, including the W.M. Keck AO system, the Thirty Meter Telescope IRIS instrument, the ‘imaka project, and the Roman Space Telescope astrometry group. She is the Project Scientist for the Keck All-Sky Precision Adaptive Optics (KAPA) instrument.

Emily Martin

AstroTech Instructor

Emily Martin is an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Santa Cruz. She combines instrumentation and observations to answer scientific questions about planets and brown dwarfs. Emily is the PI of the PEAS instrument for Lick Observatory and she served as the Instrument Scientist for the NIRSPEC Upgrade for the Keck II Telescope. Her instrumentation expertise is in optical and infrared instrumentation, including optics, mechanics, and detectors.

Maren Cosens

AstroTech Instructor

Maren Cosens is a Physics Graduate Student at UC San Diego in the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences. Maren received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2016 before switching to astronomy for graduate school. Her research focuses on both observational programs and developing new instrumentation. Maren uses optical and near-infrared integral field spectrographs to study the conditions of both nearby and distant star forming regions and how they interact with the galaxy as they evolve. She also works on the mechanical design of Liger, a future imager and integral field spectrograph for the W. M. Keck Observatory. 

Alan Garner

AstroTech Instructor

Alan Garner is a Postdoctoral Scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. His current research focuses on using multilayer mirrors and critical-angle transmission gratings in support of a future soft X-ray polarimetry mission. He earned his PhD in 2018 at the University of Florida where he helped design, fabricate, test, and operate two near-IR instruments for the Gran Telescopio Canarias.

Abhimat Gautam

AstroTech Instructor

Abhimat Gautam is a Keck All-Sky Precision Adaptive Optics (KAPA) Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Los Angeles. Abhimat’s research focuses on understanding the stellar population and dynamical environment of the Milky Way Galactic center, particularly with the aide of stellar binaries. He also works on improving precision stellar astrometry and photometry extracted from adaptive optics images of the Galactic center.

Alicia Lanz

AstroTech Instructor

Dr. Alicia Lanz is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Carnegie Observatoriesbuilding astronomical instrumentation and studying the evolution of galaxies and the process of reionization of the universe. Dr. Lanz received in her PhD in Physics from Caltech in 2018, where she built an infrared telescope aboard a sounding rocket (called “CIBER-2”) to study fluctuations in the cosmic infrared extragalactic background to place limits on reionization. At Carnegie Observatories, Dr. Lanz is building the objective optics for the fifth Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-V) Local Volume Mapper (LVM) instrument, which will perform the SDSS-V optical, integral-field spectroscopic survey. Dr. Lanz also uses Carnegie’s Magellan telescopes to gather observational data on the chemical and kinematic evolution of galaxies. Dr. Lanz also has experience with cryogenics; optical, thermal, and vibrational system analysis; infrared detectors and associated electronics; systems engineering; requirements definition; and rocket launches.

Renate Kupke

AstroTech Instructor

Renate Kupke is an instrument scientist with the University of California Observatories, UC Santa Cruz. Her research involves development of advanced instrumentation techniques for use in astronomical instruments, including adaptive optics with the Laboratory for Adaptive Optics at UCSC. She has also been involved in the optical design and commissioning of scientific instruments for the Lick 3-meter telescope, the Keck telescopes and the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

Saavidra Perera

AstroTech Instructor

Saavidra Perera is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of California San Diego. Her primary research is in the field of adaptive optics, i.e., to measure and correct for the effects the Earth’s atmosphere has on astronomical imaging from ground-based visible/infrared telescopes. She is currently working on testing and building the new wavefront sensor in the Gemini Planet Imager instrument, set to be mounted on the Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii. 

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AstroTech is funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation and by the National Science Foundation through the Keck All-Sky Precision Adaptive Optics (KAPA) project (AST #1836016).