Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) Project Office - Staff

The Project Office is an independent group operating out of the CFHT Headquarters building in Waimea, Hawaii, led by the MSE Project Manager. The Project Office coordinates all engineering and technical work for MSE. The majority of the design and development work for MSE is performed within the home organization of partners, prospective partners and commercial organizations, as work packages assigned and directed by the Project Office.

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Project Manager - Kei Szeto, a graduate of MIT, joined the astronomy community in 1995 at Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics. Since that time he has participated in a wide range of observatory projects from instrumentation development to facilities design and upgrade. Working as the lead mechanical engineer, he oversaw the design and delivery of the adaptive optics system, Altair, for the Gemini northern telescope as well as the Canadian share of the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrographs collaboration with Royal Observatory Edinburgh. Continuing the international theme to his work, he provided technical leadership and project management for facility design and development planning for the Gemini GLAO system, and most recently held leadership positioners in design phase of the TMT telescope structure, enclosure and the first-light AO system NFIRAOS. Most notable, and a boon to MSE, Kei was also responsible for leading the ngCFHT technical feasibility study which laid the foundation for redevelopment of the CFHT facility into MSE.

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Project Advisor - Rick Murowinski has had a varied career spanning a wide range of instrument and observatory projects, from Project Manager of the Gemini Multiobject Spectrographs through senior roles in the development of the Far Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph’s guider, JSWT’s Fine Guidance Sensor / Tunable Filter, and ultimately serving as Project Engineer through most of ALMA’s construction phase. Retirement was becoming quite satisfying, until the opportunity arose to work with CFHT and the MSE team on this exciting new adventure. Hailing from Victoria Canada, he’s now looking forward to establishing a solid set of project engineering and management structures and practices for the MSE Project Office.

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Project Scientist - Alan McConnachie received his Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Cambridge in 2005. After spending 3 years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Victoria, he moved to NRC Herzberg at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, first as a Plaskett Fellow and then as an Instrument Scientist within the Astronomy Technology Program. His astronomical research is centered around Galactic Archaeology and the study of the nearest galaxies. Among the facilities serving his research, CFHT is a major component, with Alan being the Principal Investigator of the Pan-Andromeda Archaeological Survey, a large program using MegaCam that ran from 2008 - 2011. He plays an active role in the development of astronomical instrumentation and facilities and, along with Pat Cote and David Crampton, he is one of the original founders of the MSE concept.

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Systems Scientist - Nicolas Flagey is the Systems Scientist for the Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer. He started working for CFHT in 2013 while a Science Fellow at the Institute for Astronomy in Hilo. Before moving to Hawaii, Nicolas obtained his PhD in France in 2007, studying the Galactic interstellar dust properties and evolution. He then worked as a CalTech Postdoctoral Scholar at the Spitzer Science Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Spitzer and Herschel satellites. Nicolas has an extensive observational expertise, from optical to radio, from the ground and space.

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Project Engineer - Alexis Hill, a graduate of University of Victoria, in Canada, worked as a mechanical engineer on a variety of projects in the biomedical field before she joined the instrumentation group at the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics where she was involved with several instrument projects. She was a key member of the team that delivered the opto-mechanical super-structure for the Gemini Planet Imager, an instrument that is now operating on the Gemini southern telescope. She then joined the group designing the adaptive optics system for TMT, where she was responsible for many large optical and mechanical subsystems, along with managing the contractors to deliver them. She is now playing a key role in driving the development of MSE toward a well-run, scientifically efficient, observatory.