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The Banneker Institute summer program is a ten-week research and study experience. We prepare undergraduate students of color for graduate programs in astronomy, focusing on research, graduate coursework, and social science education. 

The Banneker Institute is taking a break for the 2021 summer program until we can meet safely again in person. Please contact with any questions or concerns.


Named for 18th Century African-American astronomer Benjamin Banneker, the Banneker Institute's summer program is a ten-week, full-time summer research and study experience created to prepare talented undergraduate students of color and other underrepresented groups for studies in top graduate programs in astronomy. The program trains students with the practical experience required for them to thrive in their graduate careers and builds a community of support for these emerging scholars.

Led by Professor of Astronomy John Asher Johnson, the program welcomes a cohort of 8-10 rising seniors each year to the Center for Astrophysics| Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA), where they complete a research project, gain practical experience, and immerse themselves in readings related to social and racial justice, with emphasis on the history of science and institutional prejudice. These are crucial in arming students with the information and confidence they need to carry themselves through graduate school and on to faculty positions in astronomy and STEM sciences.

Students work alongside Harvard faculty, SAO researchers and postdoctoral advisors to complete a research project culminating in a final presentation open to the CfA community, where they apply their research experience, their course material, and their public speaking training. They also earn experience with solving astronomical problems using observational studies, theoretical investigations, and the development of new instrumentation.

At the same time, students take on graduate-level coursework and build a comprehensive set of computer and astronomy skills. Supplementing the program are presentations by eminent guest speakers and topical discussions related to professional and personal development, including working in diverse teams, communication styles, navigating difficult conversations, finding study groups, and building scientific collaborations. Students also reconvene for poster presentations at the Annual Meeting for the American Astronomical Society (AAS).