Congratulations, Claire!

Photo of Claire Max

Claire Max

Hard to believe there was a time women astronomers were denied access to telescopes. I remember a director at CalTech who blocked access back in the 1970s, saying night operators wouldn't like taking instructions from women researchers.

Against that backdrop, it was especially gratifying to hear that UCSC's Claire Max was named director of UC Observatories, our multi-campus research unit. I've known Claire since she was a postdoc at Princeton and I was a postdoc in Boston. We've kept in touch over the years, and I was delighted when she joined the UCSC faculty in 1999.

We are fellow theoretical astrophysicists. Her thesis work focused on an important problem in plasma astrophysics that no one had been able to solve. She did, and I've taught her discovery in classes a number of times. Claire spent years at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where she did great work on inertial fusion before becoming an expert in adaptive optics. We hired her to succeed Jerry Nelson as director of our Center for Adaptive Optics. She is a great collaborator who gets along with people and focuses on finding the best path forward.

UCSC has a strong tradition of welcoming women scientists, and I'm proud that Claire succeeds our colleague Sandra Faber, who served a two-year term as interim director of UCO. Congratulations, Claire!

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