AstroTech 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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

Breann Sitarski

AstroTech Instructor

Breann Sitarski is the Optical Systems Scientist at the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization. She uses her astronomy (infrared studies of the Galactic Center with adaptive optics) and engineering (performance modeling and design) backgrounds to continuously monitor and evaluate the expected optical performance of GMT. This includes participating in optical design work, writing observatory and system-level requirements and technical budgets, and various types of modeling. Breann is also responsible for the alignment of GMT, monitoring Key Performance Parameters of the Observatory, and working with subsystems on their design.

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. 

Nicholas McConnell, AstroTech Curriculum Lead and Instructor

Nicholas McConnell

AstroTech Curriculum Lead & Instructor

Nicholas is a physics and astronomy instructor at California State University Sacramento, with research experience in observational astronomy.  He has previously been a program manager and instructor for ISEE’s Professional Development Program (PDP) and Thirty Meter Telescope Early-Career Initiative (TECI).  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.

Nicole Mattacola, AstroTech Program & Event Coordinator

Nicole Mattacola

AstroTech Program and Event 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).