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The ITC Alumni                                                          Make a Pledge To The ITC

The Institute for Theory and Computation (ITC) resides in the Theoretical Astrophysics Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. One of the primary objectives of the ITC is to integrate conceptual theory with computational modeling.


The Illustris group's (featuring ITC members Lars Hernquist, Dylan Nelson, and Shy Genel) simulation work was chosen as one of the top stories (#5) in all of physical science last year by Physics Database.com.

It gives great pleasure to announce the list of incoming ITC members for 2015/16. They are (in alphabetical order):

*Nicola Amorisco (ITC/MPA fellow), arriving from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark

*Ilse Cleeves (Hubble/ITC/SMA fellow), arriving from the University of Michigan

*Benedikt Diemer (ITC fellow), arriving from the University of Chicago

*Anastasia Fialkov (ITC fellow) arriving from Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris

*Gongjie Li (Harvard Society/ITC fellow), graduating from Harvard

*Anna Pancoast (Einstein/ITC fellow), arriving from UC Santa Barbara

In joining the ITC, these new fellows had to give up on prestigious offers from Stanford, CITA, IAS, and Princeton university, as well as on prize fellowships such as the Einstein, Jansky, and Hubble fellowships. Our recruitment success rate was 86% (6 out of 7), and yielded candidates of exceptional quality and diversity both geographically (2/3 born outside the US) and gender-wise (2/3 women).

Special thanks go to the ITC postdoc selection committee chaired by Lars Hernquist, whose additional members were Blakesley Burkhart, Charlie Conroy, Cora Dvorkin, Karin Öberg, Annalisa Pillepich, Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, Laura Sales, Alicia Soderberg, and myself. We also owe a great debt of gratitude to Nina Zonnevylle and Mark Palmer, who enabled a smooth and efficient selection and recruitment process.

Please join us in welcoming our stellar recruitments. We look forward to seeing them in our corridor after the summer.

ITC Director Avi Loeb gives a colloquium organized by Harvard's Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications, entitled "A Closer Look at Black Holes" , Part One.

ITC Director Avi Loeb is interviewed for an upcoming episode of BBC's science and philosophy documentary series, "Horizon".

In the Science section of the Forbes "30 Under 30," you'll find three scientists with Harvard ITC affiliations: One is the Harvard undergrad Henry Lin (at the ripe age of 19!), working with ITC Director Avi Loeb. The second is a former Loeb graduate student, Tony Pan, who now works as the principal scientist in a new company. Finally, Konstantin Batygin joined the faculty of Caltech after his postdoc work at the ITC. Congrats to all!

ITC Director Avi Loeb is interviewed by the New York Times.

The predicted existence of relativistic stars by ITC Director Avi Loeb and ITC Postdoc James Guillochon was covered by Time Magazine. The abstract and link to research article are available on ArXiv.

ITC Director Avi Loeb received a visit from eminent astrophysicist Professor Martin Rees. See the photo on the new ITC Facebook page.

Karin Oberg, Assistant Professor of Astronomy, was awarded the prestigious Packard fellowship. Her citation reads: "Oberg is an astrochemist. She combines ice experiments and radio astronomy to explore the chemistry present during planet formation. This chemistry regulates the compositions and habitability of nascent planets, and is thus key to our understanding of the origins of life." For more details, see the public announcement at Packard

Avi Loeb, Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science, has been appointed to serve on the Board on Physics and Astronomy (BPA), which is the principal forum for issues connected with the fields of physics and astronomy of the National Academies.

Current and former ITC Post-doctoral Fellows Shy Genel and Mark Vogelsberger, in collaboration with researchers at several institutions have created the first realistic virtual universe using a computer simulation called "Illustris" that can recreate 13 billion years of cosmic evolution in a cube 350 million light-years on a side with unprecedented resolution. These results, reported in the journal Nature. The video is featured in the New York Times.

A NASA press release describes results of the deepest X-ray observation of a Type Ia supernova ever, which allowed ITC Post-Doctoral fellow Raffaella Margutti, in collaboration with others at CfA, to put meaningful constraints to the progenitor system: Nasa Although nothing was detected in 50 ks of Chandra, the 0-photon image was apparently worthy of the NASA Picture-of-the-day: Astronomy Picture of the Day

Professor of Astronomy, Daniel Eisenstein, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Philip M. Sadler--F.W. Wright Senior Lecturer in the Department of Astronomy and Director, Science Education Department--was recognized recently by the International Planetarium Society at its meeting in Beijing. Phil received the society's Technology and Innovation Award for his 1977 invention of the Starlab portable planetarium. These inflatable planetariums are now in use by thousands of museums and school systems world-wide, reaching millions of children. We have one that is used by CfA staff and students when visiting schools, by local teachers, and by Phil himself for teaching Astronomy 2.

In light of the recent BICEP2 discovery of cosmological gravitational waves, former ITC Research Scholar Anna Ijjas presented two lectures reviewing the principals of inflation, entitled "Introduction to Cosmic Inflation: Principles and Challenges" that can be viewed at these links: Part I Video + Slides and Part II Video + Slides.

ITC and Harvard University Society of Fellows post-doctoral fellow Sayan Chakraborti has been awarded the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) Medal for Young Scientist (2014).

An August 2014 report by NPR chronicles Avi Loeb's search for extraterrestrial smog may actually be a good way to search for alien intelligence.

The April 2014 issue of Discover chronicles Avi Loeb's search for our universe's earliest gas clouds, galaxies and stars to tell the scientific version of Genesis.

In Nature, Avi Loeb and collaborator Paulo Pani, of the University of Lisbon in Portugal, posit that primordial black holes are unlikely to exist in numbers sufficient to explain dark matter

The 2014 Rossi Prize of the American Astronomical Society has been awarded to Doug Finkbeiner, together with Tracy Slatyer, and Meng Su, former students and ITC members, "for their discovery, in gamma rays, of the large unanticipated Galactic structure called the 'Fermi Bubbles.'"

Rebekah Dawson and Matthew Walker received the Martin and Beate Block Award for Promising Young Physicists at the 2013 Aspen Center Particle Astrophysics Conference.

Click here for photos from the sixth annual ITC Soccer Cup match, August 16, 2014.

Click here for photos from the Fall 2014 ITC Reception, September 14, 2014.

NEWS ARCHIVE: Click here for a listing of previous news items.

PHOTO ARCHIVE: Click here for a listing of photos from past years.


For general directions to the CfA, click here.

Directions and other information for visitors may be found here (password protected).


Visiting Scholars

Faculty on sabbatical from institutions outside Harvard wishing to conduct research at the ITC, typically for one semester in residence, may contact the ITC Director, Avi Loeb. Applicants must be endorsed and nominated by Senior ITC members.

Postdoctoral Fellowships

For application procedures for the ITC Postdoctoral Fellowship, please click here.

Predoctoral Fellowships

Graduate students at institutions outside Harvard wishing to conduct thesis research at the ITC for a period of one year may apply to the SAO Predoctoral Program.

The ITC also has limited funds to support students wishing to conduct research at the ITC for a period of one to three months. For more information, please email itcinfo[at]cfa.harvard.edu.


The Eric R. Keto Prize for Graduate Students in Theoretical Astrophysics, endowed with a generous donation by ITC Senior Member Eric Keto, is awarded each year for the best thesis in theoretical astrophysics by a student at the CfA, as selected by the Senior Members of the ITC. The restriction is that the nominated student needs to receive her/his PhD in the year of the award on a topic in theoretical astrophysics. The student can be from any department within Harvard as long as her/his advisor is a senior member at the ITC.

  • 2014 - Katherine Deck and Paul Torrey
  • 2013 - Robert Penna
  • 2012 - Laura Blecha
  • 2011 - Gurtina Besla
  • 2010 - Claude-Andre Faucher-Giguere
  • 2009 - Matt McQuinn (Astronomy) and Rebecca Shafee (Physics)


Eighth Harvard-Smithsonian Conference on Theoretical Astrophysics: Debates on the Nature of Dark Matter, May 19 - 22, 2014 in Cambridge MA. Sponsored by Raymond and Beverly Sackler and Irwin Shapiro.

Seventh Harvard-Smithsonian Conference on Theoretical Astrophysics: Testing General Relativity (GR) with Astrophysical Systems, May 14 - 17, 2012 in Cambridge MA. Sponsored by Raymond and Beverly Sackler and Irwin Shapiro.


For information on all Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics postdoctoral research fellowship opportunities, please click here.

Information on the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship Program, can be found here.

Canadian citizens may apply for funding through the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.

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