SAO Summer Intern Program

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) Summer Intern Program is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) internship where students take on an astrophysics research project with an SAO or Harvard scientist. In 2021, the program will take place from Sunday, June 6, through Saturday, August 14. Students are expected to work at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics for the full duration of the program. Interns are housed in Harvard’s graduate student dormitory facilities.

The program is funded by NSF and the Smithsonian Institution.

Potential areas of research include (with a few example study subjects that reflect ongoing research at the Harvard Center for Astrophysics):

• 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?

Undergraduate students interested in astronomy, astrophysics, physics, or related physical sciences are encouraged to apply. The application deadline for the Summer 2021 program is January 31, 2021. We can offer a wide range of projects to our interns. For more information, visit