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Mark Mulligan

Executive Director of SSEC
Associate Director of Engineering

As Executive Director of the Space Science and Engineering Center, Mark Mulligan is part of the Center’s senior leadership, which includes the director and associate directors. He is responsible for implementing the vision and directives of the Director. To that end, he works collaboratively with the associate directors to coordinate and execute administrative processes, research support and infrastructure to meet Center needs. Duties include leading the day-to-day operations of the Center, as well as long-range, strategic planning related to administrative, financial, infrastructure and core capabilities.

As the Associate Director for Engineering, Mr. Mulligan leads the engineering research and development group and ensures that SSEC investigators have the necessary technical infrastructure and resources to conduct their research. Technical infrastructure encompasses technical computing resources, receiving antenna systems, remote sensing instrumentation and the various tools and systems required for the definition, development, quality and testing of scientific instrumentation.

Mr. Mulligan began his career at SSEC in 1991 as an engineer and later became a project manager. As an engineer, he has participated in many successful instrument development projects. He was a mechanical engineer on the NASA-funded Diffuse X-ray Spectrometer instrument, which successfully conducted a low energy x-ray survey aboard the Space Shuttle mission STS-54. He served as a mechanical engineer and project manager in the development of several adiabatic demagnetization salt pills used to supercool detectors to tens of milli-Kelvin above absolute zero for the Astro-E satellite missions. He served as deputy project manager for the IceCube collaboration, funded by the National Science Foundation, to build a kilometer-cubed neutrino telescope in the South Pole ice until being reassigned as the project manager for the Enhanced Hot Water Drill (EHWD). The EHWD was critical to the success of the IceCube telescope because it allowed the mission team to drill boreholes and bury detectors up to 2500 meters deep.

Mr. Mulligan has been a project manager for the High Spectral Resolution Lidar installed on NCAR’s GV aircraft and has continued to work with the lidar team to help coordinate their instrument support and development for the Department of Energy and the Office of Naval Research. In 2013, he was appointed principal investigator for the Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDDO) research team. IDDO, now known as the Ice Drilling Program, supports a wide range of scientific investigations across diverse fields such as climatology, glaciology, astrophysics and biology through the development of unique drilling and coring systems. Mr. Mulligan served as the project manager for the Near Infrared instrument which was commissioned on the Southern African Large Telescope in 2022.

Mr. Mulligan earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and master’s degrees in business and engineering from UW–Madison.