Welcome to the SAO Predoctoral Program Resource Site

The SAO Predoctoral Program Director

Dr. James Babb is entering his fourth year as the Director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) Predoctoral Program. As director, Dr. Babb is responsible for the review of all program applications. Moreover, he is particularly active in monitoring the research activities and progress of all students while they are in residence. He also provides ongoing administrative oversight of related activities including changes to the website, advisor requirements, and support services. He meets annually with all program participants in October; however, he is always available by appointment to discuss any issues affecting the quality of life and research of graduate students at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

During his tenure as director, Dr. Babb has introduced a monthly journal club activity for fellows in conjunction with Dr. Martin Elvis in the High Energy Astrophysics Division. Dr. Babb has also overseen the expansion of the career and issue-oriented seminars available to predoctoral fellows and visiting students. Additionally, he has advocated for greater communication with fellows that has resulted in additional web pages and an annual meeting with all participants in the program.

His research is in applications of theoretical atomic and molecular physics to astrophysics. Broadly speaking, this concerns the interactions of these particles with others of their kind as well as photons. Recent work is focusing on collisions leading to the formation of heavy molecules for modeling Type II supernovae ejecta and similar environments.