Project Office

Project Office

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

Kei SZETO

Project Manager

A graduate of MIT, joined the astronomy community in 1995 at Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics. Since then 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 three instruments for the Gemini Observatory: the adaptive optics system, Altair, and both Gemini Multi-Object Spectrographs, which is a collaboration between Canada and the UK.

Continuing the international theme of his work, Kei led the feasibility design and development planning for the Gemini GLAO system, and held leadership positions in design phase of the TMT telescope structure, enclosure and the first-light AO system NFIRAOS. Most notable to MSE, Kei was also responsible for leading the ngCFHT technical feasibility study that became the basis for transforming the CFHT facility into MSE.

Jennifer Marshall

Project Scientist

Jennifer Marshall is an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Texas A&M University. Her scientific interests include the study of near-field cosmology, specifically using metal-poor stars found in the halo of the Milky Way to better understand the formation mechanisms of the Galaxy and of the Universe as a whole. Most recently she has focused on studying the detailed kinematics and chemistry of satellite galaxies of the Milky Way, particularly those that have been discovered by the Dark Energy Survey.

As an astronomical instrument builder Jennifer led Texas A&M’s involvement in the Dark Energy Survey, producing the calibration systems that enable the unprecedentedly precise photometric measurements produced by the survey, and also in the HETDEX project, building the VIRUS spectrographs. She is the co-PI of GMACS, the wide field multi-object spectrograph that will be a first-light instrument for the Giant Magellan Telescope. She is also the director of the REU Site in Astronomical Research and Instrumentation at Texas A&M, which brings talented undergraduates from other universities to conduct scientific research with Texas A&M astronomers each summer.

Samuel C. Barden

Systems Engineer

Sam comes to MSE after serving 6 years with the 4MOST project where he led the development for their wide field corrector, acquisition system, and fiber metrology system. Prior to that, he was project manager of the adaptive optics development for the DKIST telescope. He was previously head of instrumentation at the Anglo-Australian Observatory leading the design studies for the Gemini/Suburu WFMOS concept as well as the design of the HERMES spectrograph.

Sam's early career was as a Scientist at NOAO/KPNO where he developed the DensePak fiber array, Nessie plugboard fiber MOS system, and the WIYN and CTIO Hydra fiber MOS instruments. Additionally, he has participated in early ELT design studies (GSMT engineering study), served on numerous design reviews, and has been an early innovator in both fiber optics technologies and in the introduction of volume-phase holographic gratings to astronomy.

Sam graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelors in Astrophysics and then received both a Masters and Doctorate in Astronomy from the Pennsylvania State University where he helped pioneer the first fiber optically coupled bench mounted spectrograph.

Jennifer Sobeck

System Scientist

Jennifer will join the MSE Project Office as the System Scientist after a 7-year tenure with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV (SDSS-IV). She served as the Project Manager for one of its cornerstone projects, the Apache Point Galactic Evolution Experiment 2 (APOGEE-2), and additionally managed SDSS-IV Operations at Las Campanas Observatory (LCO). Jennifer was a member of the team that built the second APOGEE instrument, which acquires multi-object, high-resolution spectral data in the near-infrared.

Jennifer’s research is centered on the chemical composition of stellar populations and galactic chemical evolution. She is also interested in stellar astrophysics and the use of fundamental physics data to improve the derivation of characteristic stellar parameters. As a participant in various large-scale data projects, Jennifer is focused on the development of efficient parameter determination techniques that allow for enhanced data exploitation.

Jennifer pursued studies at the University of Texas at Austin and received BS, MA, and PhD degrees in Physics. She completed postdoctoral positions at the European Southern Observatory, the University of Chicago, and the Observatoire de le Cote d’Azur, before undertaking research scientist roles at the University of Virginia and the University of Washington.

Alexis HILL

Deputy Project Engineer

Alexis is a graduate of University of Victoria in Canada. She worked as a mechanical engineer on a variety of projects in the biomedical field before joining the instrumentation group at the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics where she was involved with several instrument projects. She was a key member of the Gemini Planet Imager team and responsible for the opto-mechanical super-structure. Since its delivery GPI has been operating successfully on the Gemini southern telescope. She then joined the group designing the adaptive optics system NFIRAOS for TMT, where she was responsible for leading the development of many large optical and mechanical subsystems, along with managing the contractors who deliver them.

Alexis is now playing a vital role in directing the MSE development toward a well-designed and scientifically efficient observatory.

Andreea Petric

Deputy Project Scientist

Andreea obtained her PhD from Columbia University working on X-ray scattering halos and radio observations of high redshift Quasars. As a Postdoctoral Scholar at Caltech and then a Science Fellow at the Gemini Observatory she studied nearby, luminous infrared galaxies and galaxies hosting growing super massive black holes. Andreea's research focus is on the formation and evolution of galaxies. She uses X-ray to radio data to study the impact of mergers and AGN feedback on the star formation rates in nearby galaxies. She uses NIR to radio data from ground and space facilities to estimate the interstellar medium content of quasars to understand the relationship between type 1 and type 2 QSOs.

In her graduate and undergraduate teaching, mentoring, outreach, and community interactions Andreea strives to empower and create equal opportunities for the next generation to achieve their astronomy career aspirations in environments that value equally their culture and analytical skills.

Mary Beth Laychak

Director of Strategic Communications

Mary Beth Laychak is the Director of Strategic Communications at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and serves in the same capacity for the Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer. She runs the Maunakea Scholars program, CFHT’s flagship outreach program, which provides students from Hawaii public high schools the opportunity to apply for observing time on the Maunakea Observatories. Mary Beth co-chairs the MSE Education and Public Outreach working group, focusing on MSE’s Hawaii impact while developing a robust EPO program for MSE across the partnership.

Mary Beth has an undergraduate degree in astronomy and astrophysics from Penn State University and a masters degree in educational technology from San Diego State.

Rick MUROWINSKI

Project Advisor

Rick has had a varied career spanning a wide range of instrument and observatory projects, from Project Manager of the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrographs through senior roles in the development of the Far Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph guider and JSWT Fine Guidance Sensor/Tunable Filter, and ultimately serving as Project Engineer through most of the ALMA construction phase.

Retirement was becoming quite satisfying, until the opportunity arose to work with the MSE team on this exciting new adventure. Hailing from Victoria Canada, he is a valuable resource who the Project Office calls on for advice and help on a regular basis.

Laurie Dale

Office Administrator

Laurie graduated from the University of Cincinnati with an associate degree in Business and has worked for CFHT since October, 2002 in Administration. Laurie currently serves as Administrative Service Manager for CFHT.

Laurie has spent a portion of her time providing administrative support to the MSE Project Office for several years. In her new position, Laurie’s work on MSE will increase to 40% of her time while continuing to work in her previous role in the CFHT Administration team.

Barbara Small

Project Administrator

With a master’s degree in Computer Science and a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Barbara hails from Memphis, Tennessee, where she spent a decade in Information Technology Project Management at International Paper. After visiting Maunakea in 2014, she moved to Hawaii the following year to become an Interpretive Guide at the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Station.

Barbara brings her love of the mountain and passion for its stewardship, her scientific curiosity, and her project management and communications skills to the team.

Christian Surace

PESA Technical Lead

Christian Surace (Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille) will join the Project Office to lead the development of the Program Execution Software Architecture (PESA) conceptual design over the next year.

Working remotely from France, Christian will coordinate the efforts of the distributed teams working on various aspects of the PESA conceptual design, providing overall leadership and guidance. His recent work leading the Astrophysical Data Center of Marseille (Center de données Astrophysique de Marseille; CeSAM) has prepared him well to lead the PESA development effort.

Lisa Wells

Sharepoint Administrator

Lisa has been working at CFHT for over 21 years, first as an observing assistant then as a remote observer. Lisa is now joining the MSE Project Office part-time as the Sharepoint Administrator.

Lisa received her Masters degree in Astronomy from the University of Arizona after having worked for NOAO for 7 years, first for 5 years at CTIO in La Serena, Chile, then 2 years at KPNO in Tucson as a data reduction specialist and observing assistant at KP. She has extensive observing experience having observed with the Cerro Calan/Cerro Tololo Supernova search in Chile, contributing to the supernova field having reduced and analysed countless images producing the light curves and spectral evolution of many bright nearby events like SN1987A, SN1989B, SN1991T, and SN 1991bg. She also collaborated with a group from Harvard imaging with the 2.1M at KPNO observing late time type II supernova events and worked in the IR with collaborators at OSU studying the IR light distribution of galaxies.

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