Meet the Team

The NRT design team consists of staff from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) and the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT).

Below is a description of the partner institutes and a brief bio and photo of each of the team members.

Project Partners


The Liverpool John Moores University team are part of the Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI). The Liverpool Telescope team currently consists of thirteen staff members (including one postdoc) and two PhD students, with one new NRT staff member starting in early 2019. The ARI have a large time-domain research group who utilise the LT and advise on its potential science uses.


The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) is an international research centre based in the Canary Islands, Spain, with centres and observing sites on La Palma and Tenerife. The IAC officially became a partner of the NRT project in April 2016 when they signed a memorandum of understanding with LJMU. Since then the IAC have been building their team of engineers and have started exploring design concepts for the telescope and optical system.


The National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT) is a research organisation based in Thailand enabling the development of a collaborative research network regionally and globally. NARIT have recently signed a memorandum of understanding with LJMU and are working on the design concepts of the telescope.

University Of Oviedo

The University of Oveideo is a public institution of higher education and research in the Principality of Asturias, Spain.

Project Staff

Dr. Doug Arnold (LJMU)

NRT DevOps Engineer

Doug Arnold

I have been interested in Telescopes and Astronomy since being a teenager. After studying Physics and Astronomy I completed a PhD at Liverpool John Moores University working with instrumentation on the Liverpool Telescope, to measure polarisation of Gamma-ray Burst Afterglows. During the PhD I was also a Student Support Astronomer at the Isaac Newton Telescope in La Palma for a year. Whilst looking after this older telescope in it’s twilight years, I learned much the control systems and mechanics of a 1980s telescope. I’m looking forward to designing the Software and computing systems for the New Robotic Telescope.

David Copley (LJMU)

Systems Engineer

David Copley

I have an industry background in Automotive systems, specifically in mechatronic systems. Most recently I took a systems specialist role at Sensor City in Liverpool’s Knowledge Quarter working with companies to adopt Industry4 technologies where I was particularly interested in embedded systems. I’m very excited to now be working on the New Robotic Telescope project with many talented engineers and scientists from a variety of disciplines. I hope to broaden my skills in systems engineering throughout the project and gain insights into optical telescope design and astronomy in general.

Dr. Chris Copperwheat (LJMU)

NRT Deputy-PI

Chris Copperwheat

I am the Liverpool Telescope Astronomer in Charge and a Reader in Time Domain Astrophysics in the Astrophysics Research Institute at Liverpool John Moores University. I obtained my PhD in 2007 from University College London, and then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Warwick before joining LJMU in 2012. My research interests span a wide array of time variable phenomena, including (but not limited to) white dwarf binaries, exoplanets and gravitational wave counterparts.

Dr. Éamonn Harvey (LJMU)

NRT Instrument Scientist

Eamonn Harvey

I finished my PhD entitled the ‘Structure and Evolution of Classical Nova Shells’ in January 2018 at NUI Galway. I now work as the Instrument Scientist for the Liverpool New Robotic Telescope to be built on the Roque de los Muchachos (La Palma). Aside from developing the instrumentation for the New Robotic Telscope, my research interests revolve around the nebulae created from stellar destruction events in binary systems. Outside of work you may find me swimming in the ocean or surfing the sidewalks.

Dr. Helen Jermak (LJMU)

NRT Project Scientist

Helen Jermak

I obtained my PhD from LJMU in 2016 and worked as an E-ELT PDRA at Lancaster University, and an Instrument Scientist for the MOPTOP polarimeter project at LJMU before joining the NRT project in Spring 2018. My research interests are optical polarimetry, particularly of blazars, and instrumentation. I am one of the co-chairs of the ARI’s Equality and Diversity team and I am also the Diversity and Wellbeing representative for the departmental Management Board. In my spare time I like to play rugby, practice yoga and see live music.

Mr. Adrian McGrath (LJMU)

NRT Project Manager

Adrian McGrath

I am the New Robotic Telescope Project Manager. I am a Prince2 and Scrum Master qualified Project Manager who has used these methodologies in isolation and combined to deliver a variety of different sized projects. Multi-disciplined projects like the NRT are a great opportunity to develop existing skills and learn new ones. I’m excited to discover what new skills I’m going acquire during this project.

Mr. Asier Oria Carreras (IAC)

Mechanical Engineer


I am a mechanical engineer with strong interest in R&D projects currently working as part of the IAC New Robotic Telescope design team. I have previous experience in ground astrophysical instrumentation projects which were by far smaller than a 4m-class telescope. For this reason I am willing to learn as much as possible from this exciting new project.

Ali Ranjbar (LJMU)

Mechanical Engineer


I am a multi-disciplinary design engineer with experience in aerospace structural analysis and mechanism design. I have worked a variety of projects, such as sizing an electric trainer airplane, and the analysis of a spacecraft propulsion system. I’m looking forward to this great opportunity of working with the team on the New Robotic Telescope design.

Mr. Juan José Sanabria Cumbreño (IAC)

Software Engineer


I have been working for years as software engineer in Madrid in different projects and companies. I moved to Tenerife where I became telescope operator for two of the night time telescopes placed in the Teide Observatory. In addition, in the IAC, I have worked as an engineer designing software for scientific instrumentation, data analysis and telescope control. I am an amateur astronomer and I like to observe the night sky regularly with the naked eye and binoculars.

Prof. Iain Steele (LJMU)

NRT Director

Iain Steele

I am the LT Director and Head of the Technology Group at ARI, LJMU. I obtained my PhD in observational infrared astronomy from the Univeristy of Leicester in 1994, and then worked as a Research Fellow at the University of Southampton until 1996 when I moved to LJMU to work on the original robotic telescope project. My research interests include novel astronomical instrumentation, especially polarimetric and spectroscopic, as well as observational work on a wide range of time variable phenomena including GRBs, Be stars, blazars and exoplanets. Although I am from Newcastle upon Tyne, I have absolutely no interest in football!

Mr. Miguel Ángel Torres Gil (IAC)

NRT Systems Engineer


I am a computer engineer with a great affinity to hardware and electronics. I have worked in a variety of different R&D projects, from asistive technologies for blind people to unmanned solar airplanes, wind tunnels and assistant robots. I have also worked a lot on prototyping and researching involving mechanics, electronics and software. In the NRT project I have the oportunity of participating in a bigger project and develop my skills as a systems engineer. The NRT is an exciting project where I am sure I will develop new skills and learn a lot from excellent engineers and scientists.

Project Oversight

A project board has been established with representatives of the project partners. The board is tasked with:

  • Supporting the development of a Consortium Agreement for the design phase, and approving any subsequent changes to the Agreement;
  • Overseeing progress of initial design phase of the NRT project against the programme plan, schedule and agreed milestones;
  • Confirming priorities, resolving issues and providing advice as requested and required by the Project Executive Group;
  • Approving major changes to specification, cost, schedule and science scope in the project;
  • Acting as an interface to the ORM and advising the ORM and CCI on the NRT as part of wider strategic discussions concerning the ORM; and
  • Advising the Project Executive Group on financial planning and funding matters, as required.

Membership of the Project Board is balanced across the funding representatives of the consortium participants and currently comprises representatives of LJMU, IAC, NARIT and the Univeristy of Oviedo.

  • Prof Ahmed Al-Shamma, Executive Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Technology, LJMU
  • Prof Chris Collins, Director, ARI, LJMU
  • Dr. Carlos Gutierrez, IAC
  • Prof Johan Knapen, IAC
  • Prof Paolo Mazzali, ARI, LJMU
  • Dr. Thirasak Panyaphirawat, NARIT
  • Prof Rafael Rebolo, Director, IAC
  • Prof Javier de Cos, University of Oviedo

In addition the project PI (Prof Iain Steele) is chair of the board and the Deputy-PI (Dr Chris Copperwheat), Project Manager (Mr Adrian McGrath) and Project Scientist (Dr Helen Jermak) are in attendance.