Smithsonian Museum Assignment

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory hosts two independent summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs, one in Astronomy, and one in Solar Physics.  Details of both programs can be found below.

Astronomy Summer Intern Program

The Smithsonian Astronomy Summer Intern Program is a 10 week Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program where students work on astrophysics research with an SAO/Harvard scientist.  Potential areas of research include Galactic and extragalactic astronomy, stellar astrophysics, interstellar medium and star formation, supernovae and supernova remnants, laboratory astrophysics and astrochemistry, instrumentation, planetary and atmospheric science, and cosmology. In addition to each intern’s individual research project, there are field trips, professional development discussion meetings on topics including the responsible conduct of research, graduate school life, graduate school application process, graduate fellowship funding, and career opportunities outside academia, and a summer colloquium series. Students are also given the opportunity to present their research results at the January meeting of the American Astronomical Society following their summer in residence.

Undergraduate students interested in a career in astronomy, astrophysics, physics or related physical sciences are encouraged to apply. Applications from women, members of underrepresented groups and students from colleges with limited opportunities are especially welcome.  Students are expected to be in residence at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA for the duration of the program. For more information, descriptions of previous years activities and research projects, and to apply please see our website:

Apply Through: Website

Opportunity Website:

Application Deadline: February 2, 2015 (midnight EST)

Stipend: $500 per week

Term: 10 weeks

Eligibility: US citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) enrolled in a degree program leading to a bachelors degree. Seniors who graduate on or before June 2015 are not eligible.

Contact Email (preferred): intern [at]

Contact Phone: 617-496-7063

Solar Physics Summer Intern Program

The Solar and Stellar X-ray Group (SSXG) and the Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Group (SSP) at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) hosts a 10 week summer program for undergraduate students across the country to participate in cutting edge research on solar physics with CfA/SAO scientific mentors. Special seminars will be held to increase students’ public speaking and computer programming skills. Students will learn from experience about scientific research and how to apply their academic work to real-world problems. Participants must be US citizens and full-time undergraduate students, preferably finishing their sophomore or junior years. Applications from traditionally underrepresented groups are encouraged. Housing, stipend, and subsidized travel expenses to Cambridge are provided. More information including contact and application information can be obtained from the website listed below.

Apply Through: Website

Opportunity Website:

Application Deadline: February 15, 2015 (5pm EST)

Stipend: $500 per week;  housing and travel to and from SAO are also subsidized.

Term: 10 weeks

Eligibility: US citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) enrolled in a degree program leading to a bachelors degree. Seniors who graduate on or before June 2015 are not eligible.

Contact Name: Dr. Henry Winter

Contact Phone: 617-495-7400

Contact Email: hwinter [at]


Martian Dust Storms Internship

Dust plays an essential role for the Martian atmosphere, and dust storms range from a local to a global scale. The Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have kept a nearly continuous daily global record of Mars since 1999, providing a unique opportunity to study Martian dust storms.

This internship will allow a student to collect data on dust storms by using satellite images. The intern will gather information about storm location, time, morphology, texture, and other characteristics. They’ll also be taught how to analyze the data, so that they can learn about the spatial temporal distributions of various types of dust storms. The overarching goal is to understand more about how Martian dust storms work, which can be very helpful in planning future Mars missions. The intern will get the opportunity to learn about research while contributing to this goal.

For more information, click here.

Air Quality Data Analysis Internship

The Air Quality Data Analysis team at SAO is a world leader in the measurement of a variety of trace gases in the Earth’s atmosphere from satellites and airplanes, using backscattered solar ultraviolet and visible radiation. They’ve developed algorithms for the retrieval of ozone, nitrogen dioxide, bromine monoxide, formaldehyde, water vapor, glyoxal, and sulfur dioxide. These gases are produced from a variety of natural and manmade sources, including the burning of fossil fuels, industrial production, volcanic activity, biogenic byproducts and biomass burning. The team has produced products from instruments on NASA and European meteorological satellites, as well as instruments flown on NASA’s research airplanes.

Looking for

The Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies (SCEMS), curated the Museum Studies website from 1998 until 2014. This essential digital resource from the early days of the World Wide Web provided the museum field with a wide-range of practical, day-to-day skills in museum operations, and produced seminal research on the societal role of museums through the Fellowships in Museum Practice program. Many of the web tools pioneered by SCEMS, such as web-based lectures, and functions for serving the educational and informational needs of the museum field, are now actively sustained through associations and other dedicated museum sites: 

SCEMS transformed to become the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access (SCLDA) in 2014, and produces this website, called the Smithsonian Learning Lab. On this platform, learners can discover more than two million resources, create personal collections and educational experiences, and share their work. Learn more about the Learning Lab here. 

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