Peter Wizinowich, Chief of Technical Development

Peter Wizinowich, Ph.D.

Chief of Technical Development



Peter Wizinowich has been with the W. M. Keck Observatory `ohana since 1991. During this time he has played a lead role in the installation and alignment of the telescope optics, the design and implementation of the Keck adaptive optics systems and Keck Interferometer, the development of engineers and postdocs, and the management of the observatory’s technical projects. Peter actively collaborates with astronomers using Keck AO (Adaptive Optics) and groups developing adaptive optics systems around the world.  He has been Principal Investigator for fourteen Federal and Foundation funded projects totaling $42M and co-Principal Investigator for another $10M of funding.


  • University of Toronto, Canada, B.S., Physics & Astronomy, 1978
  • Institute for Aerospace Studies, University of Toronto, Canada, M.S., 1980
  • Optical Sciences Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, Ph.D., 1989


  • Chief of Technical Development; W. M. Keck Observatory, Kamuela, HI; 2017-present
  • Optical Systems Manager; W. M. Keck Observatory, Kamuela, HI; 1991 – 2017
  • Staff Scientist; Steward Observatory, Tucson, AZ; 1989 – 1991
  • Instrumentation Technician; Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope; Kamuela, HI; 1982 – 1985
  • Research Associate; Department of Astronomy, University of Toronto; Canada;  1981
  • Resident Astronomer; University of Toronto Southern Observatory; Chile; 1980 – 1981  

Membership in Professional Organizations:

  • Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE), Senior Member
  • Optical Society of America (OSA), Senior Member

Professional Service:

  • Committee chair:
    • Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) AO readiness review (2021)
    • Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) Metrology CoDR (2020)
    • Gemini North Adaptive Optics (GNAO) Assessment of Alternatives Review (2020)
    • Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Telescope and AO Performance Review (2008) and NFIRAOS (TMT AO System) Cost Review (2010)
    • SPIE Adaptive Optical Systems Technology Symposium, Munich (2000), Waikoloa (2002), Marseille (2008) and San Diego (2010)
    • Gemini Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics CoDR & PDR, Hawaii (2000 & 2001)
    • Mauna Kea Laser Guide Star Technical Working Group, Hawaii (1996-2000)
    • Gemini Altair Adaptive Optics System PDR & CDR, Victoria (1996 & 1998)
    • OSA Summer Topical Meeting on Adaptive Optics, Maui (1996).
  • Program committee member for adaptive optics conferences and for AO and instrument reviews
  • Associate editor (2014 – present) for SPIE Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems
  • Giant Magellan Telescope standing review board member (2017 – present)
  • Referee for optics journals and astrophysical journal; and for proposals to U.S. NSF and NASA, Australia ARC and Canada NSERC. Visiting committee member for the 2017 Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille (LAM) site visit for the French HCERES
  • Colloquium: Arcetri Observatory, Australian Astronomical Observatory, Australian National University, Bologna, Carnegie Observatory, European Southern Observatory, LAM, National Research Council – Herzberg Institute for Astronomy, National Science Foundation, Observatoire de Paris, Swinburne University of Technology, University of Arizona, University of British Columbia, University of Bologna, Suranaree University of Technology, University of Grenoble, Universidad Catolica, Very Large Telescope. 
  • Dunlap Institute summer school instructor (2018)



Federal and Private Funding Awards:

  • Principal Investigator for the following awards:
    • 2004-2009. W.M. Keck foundation award for new wavefront controllers for the Keck AO systems
    • 2005-2012. JPL cost reimbursement subcontract for Keck Interferometer development and operation
    • 2006-2010. NSF MRI award for a dual field phase referencing and astrometry upgrade to the Keck Interferometer
    • 2008-2011. NSF TSIP award for the preliminary design of the Keck next generation AO system
    • 2009-2010. NSF AURA award for a U.S. consortium’s collaboration with ESO for the development of laser preliminary designs 
    • 2009-2014. NSF MRI award for a launch telescope for the Keck II laser guide star (LGS)
    • 2010-2015. NSF ATI award for a near-infrared tip-tilt sensor for the Keck I LGS AO system
    • 2012-2016. NSF ATI award for point spread function determination
    • 2011-2016. Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation award for a next generation laser for the Keck II LGS AO system
    • 2012-2016. W. M. Keck Foundation award for a next generation laser for the Keck II LGS AO system
    • 2014-2016. Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation award for enhancing the LGS AO performance with improved image motion and focus correction
    • University of California Office of the President award for AO optimization
    • University of California Office of the President award for point spread function reconstruction
    • 2016-2019. NSF ATI award for a near-infrared pyramid wavefront sensor demonstration
    • 2017-2021. NSF MRI award for a Keck II real-time controller upgrade
    • 2018-2023. NSF MSIP award for Keck All sky Precision Adaptive optics (KAPA)
      • KAPA related awards (commitments made in the MSIP proposal):
        • 2019-2023. Heising-Simons Foundation award for the AstroTech Instrumentation Summer School (PI: Lu, Hunter)
        • 2020-2024. Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation awards to Science teams (PIs: Ghez, Liu, Treu, Wright)
  • Co-Investigator for the following awards:
    • 2005-2010. NSF award for a laser system for the Keck I telescope as part of a larger Gemini and USAF collaboration (PI: Ellerbroek)
    • 2011-2016. W. M. Keck Foundation award for developing adaptive optics tools to enable a test of general relativity as part of an UCLA, tOSC and WMKO collaboration (PI: Ghez)
    • 2016-2018. Heising-Simons Foundation award for the Keck Planet Imager and Characterizer AO-fed fiber injection unit to NIRSPEC as part of a Caltech and WMKO collaboration (PI: Mawet)
    • 2017-2019. Heising-Simons Foundation award for a high contrast coronagraph module for the Keck fiber injection unit (PI: Mawet)