Dr. Claire E. Max

Interim Director, UC Observatories

Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics
UC Santa Cruz


Contact Information:

UCSC Office: Interdisciplinary Sciences Bldg 375

Phone: 831-459-2991

Fax: 831-459-5244

E-Mail: max [at] ucolick [dot] org

Claire Max Photo

Educational Background:

A.B. in Astronomy, Harvard University

PhD in Astrophysical Sciences - Plasma Physics, Princeton University

Research Interests:

My research focuses in a few areas:

1) Astronomical applications of adaptive optics. I use the adaptive optics systems at the Lick and Keck Observatories to observe astronomical objects at near-infrared wavelengths. In the past several years I and my students have been using adaptive optics to observe merging galaxies, ultra-luminous infrared galaxies, and dual active galactic nuclei (galaxies with black holes in their cores). In the past, with colleagues from Berkeley, I imaged the planet Neptune and Saturn's moon Titan with adaptive optics.

2) The Crab Nebula. We are part of a multi-wavelength consortium that observes the region around the Crab Pulsar when an intense gamma-ray flare is seen by the FERMI LAT instrument in space.

3) The development of advanced adaptive optics systems for large current and future ground-based telescopes. I work closely with colleagues at UCSC, the W. M. Keck Observatory, Caltech, and LLNL. The LLNL group has developed laser guide star adaptive optics for the Lick and Keck Observatories.

Administrative Roles:

I serve as Interim Director of the University of California Observatories.


Astronomy 289: Adaptive Optics and its Applications
Astronomy 18: Planets and Planetary Systems

Education & Outreach Activities:

1. Co-founder and co-leader for Akamai Short Course and Internship on the Big Island of Hawaii. This began as a Center for Adaptive Optics program aimed at increasing the participation of Hawaiian community college-age students in the scientific and technical workforce. It is now funded separately by NSF. Optics and observatory operations are at the core of this summer internship experience.

2. Co-founder of the Institute for Scientist and Engineer Educators at UC Santa Cruz. This program is a spin-off from the Center for Adaptive Optics, with the goal of introducing science and engineering graduate students to modern knowledge and practice of teaching and learning, and using these skills in outreach programs to students from groups that are under-represented in science and engineering.

3. Sponsor and advisor for the Lick Observatory Teacher Institute (LOTI). This program brings high school teachers to Lick Observatory for an intensive program over the summer.

4. Collaborator with the Multiverse education program at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory, to develop new education and outreach projects for Lick Observatory.

5. Frequent speaker for astronomy outreach activities and groups.

Other Information:

Curriculum Vitae
Publication List from NASA ADS service

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Click here for Professor Max's departmental web page