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.


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, he 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 she 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. His 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. He 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.

Nicolas FLAGEY

System and Operation Scientist

Nicolas started working at CFHT in 2013 while being a Science Fellow at the Institute for Astronomy in Hilo. In 2016, he joined the Project Office as the Systems Scientist. 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.

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. She 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 Petric is the Institute for Astronomy’s (IfA) resident astronomer at CFHT, where she is the instrument scientist for the wide field optical imager MegaCam. 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.


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.

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