A new leader for Astronomical Optics in Australia

15 February 2019


Macquarie University has appointed Dr Mark Casali as the Director of the Macquarie node of Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO-Macquarie). He will take up his appointment at the end of April 2019.

A globally-regarded leader with over 30 years of experience in the design and construction of world class instrumentation, Dr Casali currently leads the technology development and second-generation ELT instrument programs for the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which operates a suite of powerful telescopes based in Chile including the VLT facility of 8 metre telescopes, and the new 39 metre Extremely Large Telescope, currently under construction.

“Mark brings a deep expertise in optical astronomical instrumentation to Australia,” says Professor Barbara Messerle, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

The AAO-Macquarie team joined the University in mid-2018 as part of a major restructure of optical astronomy in Australia. “AAO-Macquarie’s optical engineers and researchers have a long history of achievement in the creation of powerful instruments for the world’s telescopes,” Barbara says. “Under Mark’s leadership, AAO-Macquarie (AAO-MQ) will create the next generation of astronomical instrumentation, expand its presence in the fields of optics and sensing, and pursue new opportunities in medicine and defence,” she says.

Mark Casali completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne in 1987 and subsequently took a position with the Royal Observatory Edinburgh based initially at UK telescopes in Hawaii and later at the UKATC in Edinburgh developing a reputation in infrared astronomy, star formation and young stellar evolution. He joined ESO in 2004, where he initially led the development of infrared instrumentation, then led ESO’s instrumentation division, with responsibility for the first light instruments for the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). He currently heads ESO’s Technology Development Program, and the development of second generation instruments for the ELT.

In 2012 Mark co-chaired the SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation conference and has twice chaired its instrumentation symposium.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming Mark back to Australia,” says Interim Director Professor Michael Steel. “Working with our partners in the new AAO Consortium, Mark’s leadership positions AAO-Macquarie to ideally capitalise on Australia’s strategic partnership with ESO for the benefit of all Australian astronomers, and create new opportunities for astronomical optics technology to have impact in research and industry.”

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