AO Summer School 2010
Invited Speakers &
Administrator Biographies


S. Mark Ammons
S. Mark Ammons is a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Arizona. Mark researches novel techniques in astronomical adaptive optics that will enable diffraction-limited, wide-field imaging and spectroscopy at visible wavelengths on large telescopes. He has used laboratory testbeds and experimental AO systems on small telescopes to study gateway technologies in astronomical AO, including high-order Laser Tomography. He also uses the Hubble Space Telescope and other instrumentation to study the energetics of supermassive black hole accretion and feedback in distant galaxies. Mark has been the recent recipient of several research fellowships, including the Lawrence Fellowship at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.


Matthew Britton
Dr. Matthew Britton is a Senior Research Scientist at the Optical Sciences Company in Anaheim, CA. His interests include modeling and simulation of astronomical adaptive optics systems, and he is the author of Arroyo adaptive optics simulation library. He has conducted experiments in the use of adaptive optics for wide-field astronomical measurements using supplemental information from turbulence monitors. He has also participated in design studies of adaptive optics systems for TMT, Keck, the Hale 5m, and for small-aperture, robotic telescopes. Most recently he has been developing real-time control systems for use in adaptive optics. He received his PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1997.


Richard Dekany
Dr. Richard Dekany is the Associate Director for Instrumentation Development at California Institute of Technology. His interests include exploitation of advanced optical and photonics technologies for the advancement of astronomical science. He provides technical leadership for nine currently active astronomical instrument development projects. Among these, Dr. Dekany serves on the senior management team for the Next Generation Adaptive Optics (NGAO) instrument for 10-meter W. M. Keck Observatory. As Principal Investigator of PALM-3000, Richard is developing a new 3,000+ deformable mirror actuator capability for high-contrast exoplanet discovery and characterization at Palomar Observatory with first operation expected in 2011.


Michael Fitzgerald
Michael Fitzgerald is an Assistant Professor in the Infrared Laboratory of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UCLA.  His interests range from astronomical instrumentation, including coronagraphy and adaptive optics, to  observational study of planet formation.  In particular, he is interested in the application of high-contrast techniques to the direct imaging of extrasolar planets and circumstellar debris disks. In conjunction, he is also interested in the application of signal  processing techniques to both adaptive optics systems and analysis of high-contrast imaging data.


Donald Gavel
Donald Gavel is Director of the Laboratory for Adaptive Optics at UCO/Lick Observatory, UC Santa Cruz and is an Associate Director of the NSF Center for Adaptive Optics, leading the theme area for development of adaptive optics on large astronomical telescopes. He is actively involved on design teams for the Gemini Planet Imager, Thirty Meter Telescope, and Keck Next Generation Adaptive Optics projects.  Dr. Gavel spent a number of years developing the Lick Observatory Laser Guidestar Adaptive Optics system and participated in the development of the Keck Laser Guidestar System. Prior to his appointment at UCO/Lick, he worked in the adaptive optics group at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory developing AO systems for horizontal path coherent imaging and communications and on various AO systems for vision science application.


James Graham
James R. Graham is Chair of the Astronomy Department at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the project scientist for the Gemini Planet Imager project — an "extreme" adaptive optics system designed to allow direct detection of exoplanets. Previously, Graham was a senior research fellow at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. His PhD is from Imperial College, University of London.



Olivier Guyon
Olivier Guyon graduated from University of Paris 6 in 2002 (PhD research topic: wide field interferometry), and then joined Subaru Telescope's Adaptive Optics group. He now shares his time between Subaru Telescope and the University of Arizona, where he is associate professor in the Center for Astronomical Adaptive Optics. His research interests include quasar host galaxies and exoplanets.  Guyon has been developing new concepts for wavefront control and coronagraphy to enable direct imaging of exoplanets and disks from ground-based and space telescopes. He is now leading a small team to build a coronagraphic extreme-AO system for the Subaru Telescope, and also works with NASA scientists and engineers to plan a future space-based exoplanet imaging mission.


Michael Helmbrecht
Michael Helmbrecht is founder, President and CEO of Iris AO, Inc. Iris AO manufactures microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) deformable mirrors (DM) for adaptive optics (AO) and provides AO development systems. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1993, 1999, and 2002 respectively. In 1995, Dr. Helmbrecht joined the Berkeley Sensor & Actuator Center (BSAC) to conduct his graduate studies and post-doctoral-fellow research of MEMS optical systems and DMs. In 2002 he co-founded Iris AO, Inc., a company dedicated to building high-performance MEMS DMs and commercializing adaptive-optics systems. For his ground-breaking research at Iris AO, Dr. Helmbrecht received the “Retinal Technology Vision Award” from Retinitis Pigmentosa International in 2004. In the same year he was chosen as one of the top 100 innovators under 35 by the MIT Technology Review Magazine. In 2005, he participated in the National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering meeting. Dr. Helmbrecht holds 5 patents and one pending for deformable mirror designs and methods.


Claire Max
Dr. Claire Max is a Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she directs the Center for Adaptive Optics, an NSF Science and Technology Center. She is Project Scientist for the Keck Observatory’s Next Generation Adaptive Optics system, and was Principal Investigator for the Observatory’s laser guide star system. Dr. Max graduated from Radcliffe College and Princeton University.  She was a Physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for many years, where she was founding director of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at LLNL. Dr. Max's research interests include adaptive optics, laser guide stars, and their use for studies of active galactic nuclei – galaxies that have accreting black holes in their cores. Dr. Max was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004 and the National Academy of Sciences in 2008. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was awarded the Ernest O. Lawrence Award in Physics by the US Department of Energy in 2004 and the Madison Medal by Princeton University in 2009.


Mike Messerly
Dr. Michael Messerly has 20 years of experience in optical fiber fabrication, telecommunication systems, and fiber-based lasers. He is currently a staff physicist in Lawrence Livermore National Lab’s Photon Science & Applications Program, where he holds responsibility for design and fabrication of the fiber-based short-pulse seed lasers for LLNL’s newest Megaray source, which will produce monochromatic gamma rays through collisions with relativistic electrons. Dr. Messerly received his Ph.D. in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona in 1987, and before joining LLNL in 2004, spent his career developing optical fibers for 3M Company in St. Paul MN and telecommunications systems for Ciena Corparation in Baltimore MD.



Katie Morzinski
Katie Morzinski is a PhD candidate in Astronomy at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She is active in several Center for Adaptive Optics research and teaching programs: characterizing micro-electro-mechanical-systems (MEMS) deformable mirrors in the Laboratory for Adaptive Optics; studying the performance of ViLLaGeS, a visible-wavelength MEMS-based AO testbed on-sky at Lick Observatory; conducting a high-contrast imaging survey for low-mass stars and brown dwarfs in the Hyades cluster; and designing and teaching inquiry labs for college and graduate students in engineering and astronomy.



Lisa Poyneer
Dr. Lisa Poyneer is an engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, specializing in signal processing for adaptive optics (AO). She has developed several new techniques that enable high-performance AO, including the spatially filtered wavefront sensor, Fourier transform wavefront reconstruction and optimized-gain and predictive Fourier wavefront control algorithms. Lisa earned the SB and M.Eng in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT and is a Rhodes Scholar. She completed the Ph.D. at UC Davis concurrently with her research position at Livermore Lab, winning the 2008 Marr Prize for the most distinguished doctoral dissertation at the university.


Austin Roorda
Austin Roorda received his Ph.D. in Vision Science/Physics from the University of Waterloo, Canada in 1996. In a following postdoctoral appointment at the University of Rochester, he used the world's first adaptive optics ophthalmoscope to measure the properties of human photoreceptors, which included mapping the trichromatic cone mosaic. From 1998 to 2004, he was at the University of Houston College of Optometry, where he designed and built the Adaptive Optics Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope (AOSLO). AOSLO systems have since been replicated in many labs and he’s licensed his patent to a company that is currently developing a commercial version of the AOSLO. He is on the executive committee of the CfAO and holds grants from NIH and Foundation Fighting Blindness. He is the recipient of two major awards: the Borish Outstanding Young Researcher Award (American Academy of Optometry) and the Excellence in Research and Scholarship Award (University of Houston). Since January 2005, he’s been at the UC Berkeley School of Optometry where he is the current chair of the Vision Science Graduate Group. His research involves clinical applications for microscopic retinal imaging as well as basic investigations of structure and function of the visual system.


Don Wiberg
Don Wiberg is Emeritus Professor of Electrical Engineering at UCSC as well as a part time Researcher in the CfAO, 2001- present. He was Professor of Engineering and Applied Science and also Professor of Anesthesiology at UCLA 1965-1994.  He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and was selected as a Congressional Fellow in 1995 to serve in the office of Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA).  He was a Fulbright Senior Fellow to Denmark in 1976-77 and to Norway in 1964-65. His hobbies are duplicate bridge and beach volleyball.



Robert Zawadzki
Robert J. Zawadzki is an assistant professional researcher at the department of Ophthalmology & Vision Science, UC Davis. His main research interests have been on development of new instrumentation for high-resolution in vivo retina imaging (allowing visualization of individual cellular structures). This includes, but is not limited to, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), Scanning Laser Opthalmoscopy (SLO), Adaptive Optics (AO) and combinations of all the above. Currently, Dr. Zawadzki is also involved in studying eye aging process as well as various types of retinal diseases by using these novel instruments to enhance the understanding of its mechanisms.