AstroTech 2022 Instructors and Staff

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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.

Lisa Hunter

AstroTech Co-Principal Investigator and Instructor

Lisa Hunter is the Director of the Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators (ISEE) at University of California Santa Cruz. She has been collaborating with the telescopes and the astronomy community for 20 years to offer programs aimed at the undergraduate to professional levels. Her work has focused on equity and inclusion, development of professional skills, and effective teaching and mentoring.

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.

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).

Alicia Lanz

AstroTech Instructor & Program Manager

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.

Sarah Logsdon

AstroTech Instructor

Sarah Logsdon is an Assistant Scientist at NSF’s NOIRLab in Tucson, Arizona. She is also the Instrument Scientist for NEID, an extreme precision radial velocity spectrograph designed to detect and characterize exoplanets and exoplanet candidates. Prior to moving to Tucson, Sarah spent two years at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where she developed technologies, error budgets, and test plans for the NEID Port Adapter subsystem. The Port Adapter is responsible for sending star light from the telescope to the spectrograph. Sarah earned her PhD in Astronomy at UCLA where she served as the UCLA Instrument Scientist for FLITECAM, a near-infrared imager and grim spectrograph for SOFIA.

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.

Jean-Baptiste Ruffio

AstroTech Instructor

After graduating from Stanford University with a Ph.D. in Physics under the supervision of Prof. Bruce Macintosh, I was awarded a David & Ellen Lee Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship to join the exoplanet imaging group lead by Dimitri Mawet at the California Institute of Technology. Leveraging my background in applied mathematics acquired during my master’s degree at the French leading Aerospace engineering school, I have been pioneering statistical and instrumentation techniques to push the frontiers of planet detection and characterization. For example, I developed a planet detection algorithm for large high-contrast imaging surveys, measured the first precise planetary radial velocities, and measured the carbon-to-oxygen ratios of a multi-planet system therefore constraining its formation history.

Deno Stelter

AstroTech Instructor

Dr. R. Deno Stelter is a postdoc at UCSC where he works as the instrument scientist for SCALES (Slicer Combined with an Array of Lenslets for Exoplanet Spectroscopy). SCALES, an AO high-contrast integral field spectrograph, is currently in its Final Design phase.

Dr. Stelter was trained in the arts of advanced image slicer design and cryo-opto-mechanical engineering while in graduate school, and is passionate about astronomical instrumentation, regardless of whether or not slicers are involved.

Sean Terry

AstroTech Instructor

Sean Terry is a Keck All-Sky Precision Adaptive Optics (KAPA) Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley. He works on various PSF-Reconstruction techniques as well as high-precision astrometry of gravitational microlensing targets.

Shelley Wright

AstroTech Instructor

Shelley Wright is an Associate Professor in Physics at UC San Diego in the Center for Astrophysics & Space Sciences. Her research focuses on developing innovative astronomical instrumentation and observations using some of the world’s largest optical telescopes. Shelley specializes in near-infrared cameras and spectrographs, and studying distant galaxies and supermassive black holes. She is currently the Project Scientist for the first-light instrument IRIS for the future Thirty Meter Telescope and Principal Investigator for Liger a next-generation W. M. Keck Observatory instrument. Shelley has also been involved with Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) instrumentation and searches for over a dozen years.

Cynthia Nelly Carrion, AstroTech Program Manager

Cynthia Nelly Carrión

AstroTech Program Manager

Cynthia is an Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators (ISEE) Program Manager and works on the team that runs the AstroTech Summer School. Cynthia is involved in managing AstroTech in a range of ways, including program recruiting, application and selection, communication, and evaluation of program outcomes. She also serves as an instructor in the teamwork and collaboration sessions. 

Brandye Johnson

AstroTech Program and Events Coordinator

Brandye Johnson is one of AstroTech’s Program and Events Coordinators. She is also the Department Coordinator for the Astronomy department at the University of California Berkeley.

Nicholas McConnell, AstroTech Curriculum Lead and Instructor

Nicholas McConnell

AstroTech Curriculum Lead & Instructor

Nicholas leads the AstroTech instructional team in defining the overall learning outcomes of the Summer School and in coordinating the development of multiple Summer School activities.  He pursued observational astronomy research as a graduate student and postdoc before shifting his focus to education and career development.  He has previously been a program manager and instructor for ISEE’s Professional Development Program (PDP) and Thirty Meter Telescope Early-Career Initiative (TECI).  In 2021 Nicholas joined University of the Pacific as their Director of Academic Assessment. 

Nicole Mattacola, AstroTech Program & Event Coordinator

Nicole Mattacola

AstroTech Program and Events Coordinator

Nicole coordinates all events big and small that support the programmatic goals of ISEE, which includes AstroTech. She arranges all travel, meals, and facilities for AstroTech, and can answer questions at any point from application to arrival in Berkeley about logistics. Nicole is a good first point of contact for AstroTech, and will connect participants with the right person to address their needs.

Contact Us

Individuals with questions about AstroTech should contact AstroTech program staff –


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).