Claire Max is a Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she is Director of the University of California Observatories. She graduated from Radcliffe College (A.B.) and Princeton University (Ph.D.), and was a postdoc at UC Berkeley. Dr. Max was a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for many years, where she was the founding director LLNL's branch of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics. At UCSC she was a founder and Director of the Center for Adaptive Optics, an NSF Science and Technology Center.
Dr. Max's current research interests include adaptive optics, laser guide stars, and their use for studies of nearby galaxy mergers and active galactic nuclei. She is a co-founder of the Akamai Workforce Initiative in Hawaii, which advances Hawaii college students into the high-technology workforce. She is faculty liaison for Education and Public Outreach programs at Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton in California, including workshops providing professional development experience for local middle and high school science teachers.
Dr. Max is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the California Academy of Sciences. She was recipient of the Ernest O. Lawrence Award in Physics by the US Department of Energy in 2004, the James Madison Medal of Princeton University in 2009, and the American Astronomical Society's Joseph Weber Award for Instrumentation in 2016. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the SPIE, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.