SAO/LIP Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I apply?

SAO/LIP is open to students in the UMLSAMP Program. If you are interested in applying, contact the UMLSAMP Grant Program Coordinator, Ms. Reaksmey Roeung-Meas by email( or by phone at 978-934-2458.

How do I get notified of my acceptance into the Program?

Ms. Christine Crowley, the Fellowship Coordinator at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), will contact you to set up an interview with a potential advisor after your application materials have been reviewed. She will notify you by email of your acceptance after your interview or interviews at SAO.

How many hours a week do I spend as an intern at the Observatory?

Students work 35 hours during the summer from the first week of June until the third week in August. If you are taking any vacation time during this period, please let her and your advisor know at least two weeks in advance. During the academic year, students generally work 10 hours per week. However, one student has successfully managed to intern 20 hours per week during the academic year. You work out your hours between classes with your SAO Advisor.

What are the hours of my internship?

You work out the days and hours of your weekly schedule with your SAO Advisor. There is flexibility with your schedule but it must be approved by your advisor.

What are the requirements?

Besides your weekly research hours, you are required to participate in three outreach projects including a center-wide poster session, the planning of a center-wide panel, and a visit to the Cambridge Mayor's Summer Youth Program. Additionally, you will be required to participate in a week-long orientation, a weekly education seminar and Python training, as well as a weekly meeting with your Peer Mentor. Students are also required to send the SAO Fellowship Program Coordinator a weekly report of their research activities.

Can I get course credit?

Yes, but you must work out the details with UMASS ahead of your internship. Two students have used their internship as a capstone project for course credit.

How do I get paid?

For payment through UMASS, you must contact Ms. Reaksmey Roeung-Meas. At SAO, interns are paid once-a-month as a non-service fellowship recipient. The process is different than UMASS but more information will be provided during orientation week in June.

Do I have to present my research?

Yes, at the end of your summer research experience in the second week of August you will present a research poster. You will also likely present our poster at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) or at another conference dependent on your interests and at the recommendation of your SAO advisor.

Can I stay beyond the one-year term of my internship?

Yes, about half of the students have been invited to stay longer as a research intern. This depends on the quality of your work and the availability of funding from your SAO advisor.