Opportunities: Minor Planet Center (MPC) Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
 We invite applications for the inaugural MPC Post-Doctoral Fellowship. The MPC Fellowship Program is administered by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Fellowship office and is geared towards early career PhD Scientists and Engineers, enabling their pursuit of independent research into astrophysical, computational, data-processing, and/or data-communication topics that are broadly applicable to the field of Near Earth Object and Minor Planet science. These highly talented individuals will perform research to solve problems of their own choosing in an atmosphere that caters to collaborations and translational research.

The MPC Post-Doctoral Fellow will have the freedom to develop their own projects but will receive guidance in terms of ensuring their overarching research/development goals meet the aim of contributing to the MPC’s mission. The incumbent will be expected to independently plan and execute their assignments within those broad guidelines. The incumbent is responsible for independently selecting the approach to be taken and the methodology to be used.

Successful Candidates:

Successful candidates are expected to demonstrate the independence to undertake research and/or development in topics including (but not limited to):

  • Research in astronomy with an emphasis on the Solar Systems minor Planets
  • Develop novel data-processing methods.
  • Developing novel communication and/or data visualization tools to improve either the MPC's public outreach offering or the MPC's interactions with professional scientists.
Successful candidates are expected to be able to engage in the dissemination of the results of their research, for example, by preparing papers for publication in scientific journals, and preparing and presenting findings at scientific meetings as required.

Minor Planet Center:

The Minor Planet Center (MPC) is the internationally recognized, processing center, and archive for minor planet and comet position observations located in Cambridge, MA, and is under the Directorship of Dr. Matthew Holman. The MPC is tasked with identifying candidate near Earth asteroids from all data reported to the MPC, as well as with supporting asteroid survey programs, through services for identifying known asteroids and predicting their positions, and NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office through notification of potential impacts from initial orbit determination.

The MPC is part of the Solar, Stellar and Planetary (SSP) Sciences Division of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, at the Harvard – Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The SSP Division is home to world-renowned groups focused on research into minor planets, exoplanets and solar research. The MPC is funded by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program as a subnode of the Small Bodies Node of NASA’s Planetary Data System.


Individuals from established US or International academic institutions are encouraged to apply. This Fellowship is for 2 years (not to exceed 24 months) and offers a stipend, medical and dental insurance coverage and support for other research related expenses (such as travel, publications costs, etc.). J-1 VISA sponsorship considered.

How to Apply:

Applications are due January 30, 2018


Please supply the following application materials:

  • Curriculum Vita
  • Summary of Previous Publications
  • Research Proposal (up to 4 pages) describing the applicants proposed research during their fellowship.
Online admissions materials are due on/by the deadline. The first time you go to the below link you will need register for a login password. When you see the Login page, click on the "Update Account" button. This will take you to a form where you will create your account. Make sure that you remember your password so that you can return to the same application to finish your application, or to make changes.

The online application can be found at:


Please upload all documents in a PDF Format.

How to upload Letters of Reference Three letters of reference are required to be considered a complete application. Please ensure that all letters of reference are submitted by the application deadline – January 30th.

  • Contact your references. Make sure that they are available to submit the reference and are willing to write a letter on your behalf.
  • The applicant supplies the name and email of each referee in the application form.
  • A message is emailed to each reference, which provides a unique URL.
  • The reference uses the URL give in their email to upload the letter.
  • Once the reference letter has been uploaded, the applicant will see "Complete" when checking the appropriate area of the application status page.


Please contact the MPC Fellowship Program at mpcfellow@cfa.harvard.edu if you have any questions.


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