Austin Convention Center
Austin, Texas, United States
10 - 15 June 2018
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    Gender Equity Panel: Effective Ways to Increase Gender Diversity in the Adaptive Optics Community

Panelist Biographies:

Claire Max, Director, Univ. of California Observatories, USA (Chair)

Claire Max is Director of the University of California Observatories, and a Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on laser guide stars, adaptive optics, and their application to study mergers of nearby gas-rich galaxies. Max was the first female graduate student in Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton, and she has been active in gender-equity activities throughout her career. She is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Claire Max has been involved with gender equity issues for most of her career. Though she wrote a paper on career paths for women in physics a long time ago* and has supervised 6 female graduate students since 2001, most of her activities have been informal. She has taken part in National Science Foundation programs to encourage high school girls to study science, and starred in a full-length role-model film entitled "Sandra, Zella, Dee and Claire: Four Women in Science" produced by the Math-Science Network (now called the Expanding Your Horizons Network). She has been a frequent speaker for organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers, Women in Science and Engineering, the Women in Physics organization at UC Santa Cruz, and the Expanding Your Horizons Network.
* "Career Paths for Women in Physics" by C.E. Max, in Women and Minorities in Science: Strategies for Increasing Participation, ed. S.M. Humphreys (Boulder, CO: Westview Press), 1982.

Madeline Close, Durham Univ. Centre for Advanced Instrumentation, United Kingdom

Madeline Close recently joined Durham University's Centre for Advanced Instrumentation as Senior Project Manager, moving from Gemini Observatory. She has also worked in the defense and satellite industries as a project manager and systems engineer, and through out her career she has been fortunate to have mentor and mentee relationships with other female managers and colleagues. Madeline is involved in the Society for Women Engineers (SWE) and led an initiative at the 2015 SWE conference to reach a large diverse audience and convey the exciting opportunities for engineers in astronomy. Over 8,000 women and men attended the conference last year, including twenty representatives from seven astronomical observatories and institutes around the world. This was the first such get together, but will not be the last. The representatives met to share diversity initiatives at their home institutes, participated in the career fair to discuss opportunities with prospective job seekers, and held a panel talk on "Engineering Careers in Astronomy." If you are interested in learning more about SWE or the annual conference please contact Madeline or go to

Michèle Péron, Director of Engineering, European Southern Observatory, Germany

Michèle Peron started her career at the European Southern Observatory more than 25 years ago as a software engineer.  She became Director of Engineering in the same organization in 2010 and is part of the management team. The Directorate comprising around 180 engineers represent all the disciplines  which are critical to the mission of ESO, namely building and operating ground-based optical observing facilities. She has been co-leading gender diversity and inclusion activities at ESO since end of 2014 , with a special attention to the engineers. She is currently leading the development of an overall Diversity and Inclusion Plan around three pillars, namely recruitment, working conditions, gender awareness.

Neill Reid, Associate Director for Science, Space Telescope Science Institute, USA

Neill Reid is the Associate Director for Science at Space Telescope Science Institute, a position that includes oversight of the allocation process for observing time on the Hubble Space Telescope. As part of monitoring the integrity of this process, he has identified a small, but systematic, offset in the relative success rate of proposals led by male and female PIs; similar offsets are evident in other telescope time review processes ( Understanding the nature and origins of this offset will be important for both current observatories and future missions, such as the James Webb Space Telescope.

Rachel Ivie, Director, American Institute of Physics Statistical Research Center, USA

Rachel Ivie is Director of the Statistical Research Center (SRC) at the American Institute of Physics (AIP).  She received her PhD in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she specialized in research methods, statistics, and gender.  Over the past 18 years at SRC, she has studied the careers of physicists, particularly the careers of women in physics. She directs a survey that collects data on physics faculty members by gender and rank as well as by gender and ethnicity. AIP is one of only a few professional societies that has such data. Dr. Ivie authored the first ever thematic report on women in physics, bringing together data from AIP's surveys with data from outside sources (updated in 2005).  She has designed and carried out numerous studies: from a global study of physicists outlining gender differences in career progress by country to a longitudinal study of astronomy graduate students that explains the factors that may make women more likely to leave the field. 

Tomas Brage, Director of Education in Physics, Lund University, Sweden

Professor Brage obtained his PhD in Atomic Physics in 1988 and has since then had positions as a Research Assistant Professor in Computer Science at Vanderbilt Univeristy between 1989 and 1993, and Research Associate at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, working on the Goddard High Resolution Spectroscopy mission on the Hubble Space Telescope, from 1994 to 1996. He is now a Professor of Physics at the Division of Mathematical Physics of the Department of Physics in Lund University, where he has been active with teaching and research for twenty years. His main interests are Laboratory Astrophysics and Computation Atomic Physics, and he has published around 100 articles in refereed journals. He is a visiting researcher at the Fudan University in Shanghai in China, where he spend a few months each year at the Key Laboratory for Ion Traps. Lately he has been strongly involved in Gender and Science, where he is active in several European networks, e.g. under the workgroup for Gender of the Leading European Research Universities (LERU) network. He has led several projects at Lund, e.g. the Gender Certification project, the Antidiscrimination education and, most recently, the Core-Value project. He has received the Gunilla Jarlbro award for important contributions to the strive for equal opportunities in the academia.