Opportunities: CfA Postdoctoral Fellowships Overview

The CfA Postdoctoral Fellowship

The CfA Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian is intended for recent Ph.D. recipients who do not already have extensive postdoctoral experience. The Fellowship supports innovative astrophysics research by offering to the next generation of researchers full access to the unique facilities, research staff and resources of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA). Past CfA Postdoctoral Fellows have gone on to faculty and research positions at major universities and research centers, and have received some of astrophysics' most important awards. One former CfA Fellow is a Nobel Laureate.

Applications are now open for the 2020 CfA Postdoctoral Fellowship competition. Successful candidates will be outstanding researchers with demonstrated promise in theory, observation, instrumentation and/or laboratory or experimental astrophysics. The CfA will award at least one CfA Fellowship and may award additional Fellowships depending on the strengths of the applicant pool. Only applicants who receive their degrees between January 1, 2019 and September 1, 2020 will be considered.

A list of previous CfA Fellows is available.

About the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA)

The CfA is known for its leadership in theoretical, observational and laboratory astrophysics, and for its observational programs across the electromagnetic spectrum. The CfA also includes highly successful instrument development teams and facility operations expertise. CfA Fellows are able to use the combined resources and facilities of the CfA's two collaborating observatories: the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory.

Through the CfA's operational agreements with its partners, CfA Fellows can propose for CfA-allocated observing time on the MMT in Arizona, the Magellan Telescopes in Chile and the Submillimeter Array in Hawaii. Other opportunities to participate in ground- and space-based observing programs include but are not limited to, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), the Event Horizon Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), Kepler K2, the Parker Solar Probe, Pan-STARRS, and the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The CfA also offers a number of specialized laboratories, the renowned Wolbach astrophysics library, an astrophysics statistics program, and several formal research initiatives open by application to Fellows, which focus on a particular research area (for example in black holes, theoretical astrophysics, and the origins of life), where inter-disciplinary, inter-institutional collaborative research is the central organizing principle.

The CfA provides a dynamic range of weekly luncheons, prestigious colloquia, journal clubs, daily coffees, divisional get-togethers and many other formal and informal opportunities for the exchange of ideas and professional development in a diverse scientific community. In addition, many influential and recognized researchers from other institutions are frequent speakers and visitors to the CfA. Some 300 CfA Ph.D. researchers, 35 graduate students, 12 predoctoral fellows, and numerous engineers, program managers and technical staff combine to conduct their research, serve the field on numerous committees and advisory bodies. In the past year, CfA researchers published a combined 1,042 refereed papers per year in publications such as Astrophysical Journal, Astronomy and Astrophysics, the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Nature, and Science.

The CfA is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a vibrant slice of the larger Boston metropolitan area, known for its excellent universities, colleges and public education, its world renowned medical facilities, a dynamic modern economy, a booming artistic community, passionate sports fans and diverse cultures, all within a two hour drive to great skiing, hiking in the White, Green or Berkshire mountains, and many Atlantic Ocean beaches. As a joint collaboration between Smithsonian and Harvard, the CfA can also offer CfA Fellows selected special privileges through both institutions.

About the CfA Postdoctoral Fellowship

CfA Fellows have considerable research independence in an environment that thrives on the ideas and contributions of early-career scientists. The CfA Fellowship offers the following benefits and opportunities:

  • Three-year appointment (with a fourth year likely, dependent on satisfactory progress)
  • Stipend of $69,500, with an annual cost-of-living increase
  • Research budget of $16,000 for each year
  • Funding for health and dental benefits for the Fellow (and dependents if applicable)
  • One-time relocation allowance
  • Eligibility to propose as a Principal Investigator for external support
  • Opportunity to receive advice and mentoring from CfA researchers
  • Opportunity to gain direct experience in advising graduate, undergraduate students who are recruited for CfA internship and fellowship offerings tailored to their academic level

Application forms and instructions are available at https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/opportunities/fellowships/cfapost/admissions.html. Applications are due by October 30, 2019. Offers will be made by December 20, 2019.

The Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian Fellowships do not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, gender stereotyping, pregnancy, and sexual orientation), national origin, age, disability, genetic information, parental status, or marital status of any applicant.


Clay Fellow Warren Brown