Keck Visiting Scholar Program

The Keck Visiting Scholar Program is designed to connect early career scientists to the technology, operation and science of the W. M. Keck Observatory (Keck Observatory). The program is aimed at graduate students and post-docs seeking to enhance their careers through an observatory hands-on experience working directly with a Keck Observatory scientist. Although this is an unpaid internship, funding will be provided to successful candidates to cover travel and accommodation expenses for 4-12 weeks. A full program description can be found here.

A description of previous projects funded with the Keck Visiting Scholar Program can be found here.

Applications are currently being accepted through end-of-day Friday, March 1, 2024. To apply to the program, go to: On-line Application. The application must include a one-page description of the research and/or technical work the scholar is interested in working on; a one-page letter of recommendation from the scholar’s advisor and/or supervisor; and a selection of the Keck Scientist(s) the scholar is interested in working with.

Keck Observatory gratefully acknowledges the Keck Visiting Scholars Program sponsors Roy and Frances Simperman and major contributors: the M. R. and Evelyn Hudson Foundation; Tom Blackburn; John and Ann Broadbent; Bert and Candee Forbes; Carl and Marsha Hewitt; Doug Johnson and Valerie Gordon-Johnson; Andy and Worth Ludwick; Tom McIntyre; and Jeff Steele and Rebecca Miller Steele.

Staff Astronomers

Dr. Carlos Alvarez graduated in Solid State Physics from the Universidad del Pais Vasco (Spain) in 1994 and in Astrophysics from the Universidad de La Laguna (Spain) in 1998 and attended Imperial College of London (England) in 1998. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Leeds (England) in 2002 with a Thesis on Outflows from Massive Young Stellar Objects. Dr. Alvarez worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Max Plank Institut fur Astronomie in Heidelberg (Germany) from 2002-2004 and focused on high spatial resolution observations of massive star forming regions. He held the post of Support Astronomer at the 10-meter Gran Telescopio Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (Spain) from 2006-2015. Currently, Dr. Alvarez is a Staff Astronomer with Keck Observatory. Dr. Alvarez has contributed to scientific publications in fields ranging from massive star formation to active galactic nuclei, sub-stellar objects, and comets and asteroids. His interests expand a wide range of topics within Astrophysics and in recent years his interests are focused on the study of Solar System Objects.

Randy Campbell has technical expertise in developing and maintaining the instrumentation of the observatory, in particular the laser guide star adaptive optics (LGSAO) used to remove image blur caused by atmospheric turbulence. LGSAO is a powerful technique greatly improving image quality to realize the full potential of the world’s largest telescope. Randy’s research is primarily in the study of classical novae, a type of cataclysmic variable star. This research involves capturing the event at time the ejecta of these exploding stars enter the nubulous stage in order to better understand the astrophysical processes that power the nova phenomenon.  The nebulae are expanding at high velocities and the timing of the observations is vital as they are only bright enough to study for a few years, the blink of an eye in astronomical time scales. Precisely timed observations is termed Time Domain Astronomy, TDA, and Randy’s efforts in observatory operations have been to develop policies and procedures compatible with the unique requirements of TDA observations.  Randy is member of the UCLA Galactic Center Group where he contributes TDA expertise and tools for three-dimensional visualization of data.

Dr. Greg Doppmann received his BA and Ph.D. astronomy degrees from the University of Texas at Austin in 1994 and 2002. As an undergraduate, he developed a code that predicted the far-IR fluxes of selected asteroids used to calibrate the responsivity of a prototype bolometer array used aboard the Kuiper Airborne Observatory. As a graduate student, he was directly involved in infrared instrumentation, building two spectrographs and a dichroic speckle camera for the McDonald Observatory. Dr. Doppmann's thesis research under Dr. Dan Jaffe, was focused on star formation, where he characterized the physical properties of pre-main sequence stars from their high-resolution near-infrared spectra by matching key diagnostic photospheric lines to spectral synthesis models. As a National Research Council science fellow at NASA's Ames Research Center working with Dr. Tom Greene, Dr. Doppmann expanded his spectral fitting technique to include more embedded protostellar sources and using additional diagnostic lines, afforded by data taken with NIRSPEC at Keck. In 2004, Dr. Doppmann joined the science staff at the Gemini Observatory in Chile, where he was directly involved in upgrading GNIRS. In 2006, Greg moved to NOIRlab in Tucson where he began his research on planet formation by characterizing the dynamics and composition of inner disk regions (i.e., terrestrial planet-forming zones) surrounding protostars from high resolution L and M-band spectra and detailed fits to circumstellar model spectra. Currently, Dr. Doppmann is a Staff Astronomer with Keck Observatory, where he is the instrument scientist for NIRSPEC and HIRES.

Dr. Percy Gomez received a B.S. in Physics from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru and M.S. and a Ph. D. in Astronomy from New Mexico State University in 1998. He has previously been a postdoctoral fellow at Rutgers and Carnegie Mellon University. Before moving to W. M. Keck Observatory as a Staff  Astronomer in 2016 he was an Associate Scientist at  Gemini Observatory. Percy’s research focusses on the study of the physics of galaxy clusters mergers and galaxy cluster evolution. In order to do this he combines multi-wavelength observations with numerical simulations and theoretical models of cluster evolution.  Currently he is the instrument scientist for NIRES (Near-Infrared Echelette Spectrometer) mounted on Keck 2.

Dr. Michael Lundquist recieved his Ph.D. from the University of Wyoming in 2015 and held a postdoctoral fellowship at Gemini Observatory and Steward Observatory. Dr. Lundquist's main interests include observations of the transient universe. This includes a focus on searches for supernovae and kilonovae, and the associated software infrastructure. At Steward Observatory he led Arizona contingent of the Searches After Gravitational waves Using ARizona Observatories (SAGUARO) program and was a core member of the Distance Less Than 40 Mpc (DLT40) survey. Currently, he supports LRIS and DEIMOS.

Dr. Jim Lyke received his Ph.D. in Astrophysics in 2003 from the University of Minnesota. Jim is the Manager of Observing Support at the the W. M. Keck Observatory and leads a team of scientists who provide visiting astronomers with observing support while using the Keck telescopes. His research interests include classical novae. Using Adaptive Optics, Jim is interested in how the dust and/or emission lines are distributed in the expanding shell of the outburst. In supporting observations, Dr. Lyke enjoys working with many different cutting-edge research projects in all areas of astronomy, including solar system objects, stars, the Galactic Center, and even galaxies at z > 9.

Dr. Josh Walawender received B.A.s in Physics and Astrophysics from the University of California at Berkeley in 2000 and his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2006.  After working at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, The University of Hawaii at Hilo, and Subaru Telescope, he now works as a Staff Astronomer at the W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea.  Josh has experience working on astronomical software such as data reduction pipelines, infrared instrumentation on large telescopes (e.g. the FMOS, MOIRCS, and MOSFIRE instruments), small robotic telescopes, and citizen science projects.  Josh’s research interests lie in the area of protostellar outflows and young stars.  At Keck, Josh is currently the instrument scientist for the MOSFIRE instrument and serves as the Mainland Observing Coordinator.

Dr. Sherry Yeh received her Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics from the University of Toronto in Canada in 2013. Sherry worked at Subaru Telescope as a NAOJ-Subaru Research Fellow from 2013 to 2016, and she joined W. M. Keck Observatory as a Staff Astronomer in 2017. Sherry has worked on the interactions between massive stars and their interstellar medium in extragalactic HII regions, understanding the stellar feedback mechanisms such as radiation pressure and stellar winds. Sherry carries out her research in near- and mid-infrared observations using Keck, SOFIA, and Subaru Telescope, as well as in numerical simulations using Cloudy. Sherry is extending her research work to nearby galaxies containing AGNs, and most recently she is collaborating with astronomers who study white dwarfs to run Cloudy simulations. Sherry also has worked on protostellar outflows using radio interferometry data. As a Staff Astronomer at Keck, Sherry supports OSIRIS+LGS-AO (heavily), MOSFIRE, HIRES, NIRC2+LGS-AO, and KCWI. Sherry enjoys working with and learning from astronomers of all fields, and she loves teaching astronomy to very young minds.

Adaptive Optics Team

Dr. Antonin Bouchez received his Ph.D. in Planetary Science from Caltech in 2003, studying the surface and atmosphere of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. He was a post-doctoral researcher at the W. M. Keck Observatory before moving back to Caltech to develop two new adaptive optics systems for the historic Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory. From 2010 to 2021, he led the adaptive optics program for the Giant Magellan Telescope project. This included the development and testing of innovative wavefront sensors and a segmented adaptive secondary mirror to enable diffraction-limited science observations on this future 25 m segmented telescope. He is now back at the W. M. Keck Observatory, where he leads the development of future AO capabilities. Current projects include a laser tomographic AO system on Keck 1, a 2844-actuator deformable mirror upgrade to Keck 2, and future ground-layer and multi-conjugate AO systems

Dr. Charlotte E. Guthery is a Heising Simons Postdoctoral Fellow at the W. M. Keck Observatory. She earned her Ph.D. in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona in 2022 and B.S. in Photographic Sciences from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2017. As a graduate student, she led the development and validation of a Hybrid Shack-Hartmann-Pyramid Wavefront sensor. Her work gave her in-depth experience on optical, mechanical, and software development for adaptive optics (AO) as well as large optics design and fabrication. As a Postdoc, she collaborates with research groups at the IfA, Caltech, and UC-Santa Cruz to develop operational tools for high contrast AO. She works on focal plane wavefront sensing, Zernike wavefront sensors, Pyramid wavefront sensors, speckle nulling, and predictive wavefront control.

Dr. Avinash Surendran joined W. M. Keck Observatory in 2019 as a post-doctoral researcher for the integration of the Keck All-Sky Precision Adaptive Optics System (KAPA). He is involved in implementing tomographic algorithms, designing calibration hardware, characterizing wavefront sensors and developing operations software to transform the Keck 1 AO system to perform laser tomography with four lasers. He received his Integrated M.Tech-Ph.D. in Astronomical Instrumentation from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, where he worked on building an instrument for ground-layer seeing estimation used for the site survey of the National Large Optical Telescope (NLOT) and on developing a scalable real-time control platform for Adaptive Optics on FPGAs.

Eduardo Marin is a project engineer who leads Adaptive Optics (AO) development projects at the W.M. Keck Observatory. He received his B.S in Astronomy from San Diego State University in 2009. After which he immediately started working at the Gemini Observatory where he became interested in AO and optics in general. While working in the field of AO he completed his M.S. in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona in 2021. He currently manages the development of new AO capabilities including the Real-time controller upgrade, and the Keck All-sky Precision Adaptive Optics system (KAPA). Eduardo is interested in wide field AO and visible light AO. He is currently working on a new Ground Layer AO (GLAO) system and a visible Multi-Conjugate AO (MCAO) system for Keck I. On Keck II he is working on high angular resolution at visible wavelengths using the High Order Adaptive Optics (HAKA) DM upgrade, and the NASA Orbiting Configurable Artificial Star (ORCAS) mission.



This page last updated 13 May, 2024 skw