SAO Summer Astrophysics REU Intern Program: Overview

We have begun accepting applications for the 2021 summer program. To apply, point your browser to the applications page.

For more information, please DOWNLOAD OUR FLYER from the 2019 program.

The SAO Summer Intern Program is an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) internship where students take on an astrophysics research project with an SAO or Harvard scientist. In 2021 we expect to run the program for 10 weeks, from June 6 - August 14. Students are expected to work at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics for the full duration of the program. Typically we house our interns in Harvard's graduate student dormitory facilities, but given the realities of the pandemic, that is by no means certain this summer; we may end up hosting a remote internship in 2021, as we did in 2020.

The program is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution. Important note: we are currently awaiting a decision on our funding for the 2021 session. All plans for the internship in 2021 are contingent upon approval of our funding request by NSF.

Potential areas of research include (with a few example study subjects that reflect ongoing research at the CfA):

  • Galaxies. How do they form, what powers them, how will they evolve over cosmic time?
  • Our Solar System. What are near-Earth asteroids? What kinds of objects populate the Oort Cloud and Kuiper Belt?
  • Stars and Planets. Are stellar models accurate? Where are new planets to be found?
  • Lab Astrophysics. What chemistry takes place in space? Do ices matter? How did the Earth get its water?
  • Extreme Astrophysics. What connects supermassive black holes to their host galaxies? What can we learn from X-ray emitting binary stars?

...and can involve data from a host of facilities, including space-based telescopes like NASA's Kepler, Spitzer, and Chandra missions (among others), and the many ground-based observatories often used by SAO scientists, such as:

Undergraduate students interested in astronomy, astrophysics, physics, or related physical sciences are encouraged to apply. We provide a wide range of projects to our interns. That said, we have noticed in recent years that many of our projects involve programming tasks, and Python tends to figure prominently in them. You may find it helpful to bring some Python proficiency to your internship -- but this is by no means required; we have hosted many successful interns with NO prior programming experience. In a similar vein, you may find it useful to have taken at least an introductory Astronomy course, for scientific context. Again, that is NOT required.

Check here periodically for further updates.


Clay Fellow Warren Brown