SAO/LIP Program Overview


Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Latino Initiative Program (SAO/LIP) is open to current undergraduate science majors in the Urban Massachusetts Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program. Preference is given to students in their sophomore and junior years as students may be invited to continue on a project at the conclusion of their internship. Additionally, internship assignments require preliminary coursework or skill requirements common to undergraduate students in their second or third year of study.


Students will be notified directly by the SAO Fellowship Program Coordinator about their acceptance into the internship program. This notification will be provided in April or earlier.

Length of Appointment

SAO/LIP is a 3-month summer internship program that starts in June and ends in August. Students will have the option of continuing their internship in the Spring or Fall Semester based on satisfactory progress on their individual research project. Program hours will be determined by mutual agreement between student and advisor. Some students will be invited to present at the American Astrophysical Society Conference; however, they may also present at the Annual Americans in Science (SACNAS) Conference in mid to late November. Students are expected to spend 35 hours a week at the Center for Astrophysics during the summer months and 10 hours a week during the academic year.


Any questions concerning the issuance of your stipend through the Financial Office at UMASS can be directed to the respective LSAMP Coordinator.

Funding for your stipend--as well as your conference and travel fees--will be funded through the National Science Foundation. Please direct any questions about these expenses to Christine Crowley, the SAO Fellowship Program Coordinator.


Students should plan to spend 35 hours during the week on their internship in the summer. During the academic year, students can plan on spending 10 hours per week on their internship dependent on the course schedule and advisor requirements. At the end of each semester as an intern, the students will submit a summary of their research accomplishments as well as a research proposal if applicable.

In the summer months, students are required to participate in up to three outreach projects including a trip to the Museum of Science to speak with urban students about selecting science as a major in college. Additionally, students will participate in a panel discussion that centers around issues related to greater inclusion in physics and astronomy among students from underrepresented minority communities. Finally, students will present their research in a poster session to the Observatory community in the Rotunda in anticipation of a possible conference presentation in the near future.