Job Overview


The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is part of what is arguably the largest and most diverse astrophysical institution in the world, where the staff carries out a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics, and earth and space sciences. If you would like to join this exciting organization, apply today!

The primary purpose of the position is to administer SAO’s Fellowship Program, including Postdoctoral, Predoctoral, Visiting Scientist and Internship Programs.  The SAO Fellowship Program Coordinator also assists SAO scientific divisions and administrative departments with fellowship matters and serves as the liaison between the Director's Office and Smithsonian Institution's (SI's) Office of Fellowships and Internships in Washington, D.C. The Fellowship Coordinator ensures that SAO complies with policies applicable to stipended members of SAO and is an advocate for predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows, visiting scientists and interns.


1. Administers SAO’s Fellowship Program, overseeing and managing the entire process from application to review, acceptance, orientation, and termination. Works collaboratively with the Fellowship Selection Committee and the Predoctoral Program Director to evaluate program success and make recommendations to the Director for improvements. Places announcements of fellowship opportunities in various scientific publications. Receives applications and analyzes content to determine program eligibility and to verify completeness. Responds to applicant's queries for information, providing information relative to guideline requirements. Prepares all applications for review by the Fellowship Selection Committee. Once applicants have accepted, ensures that all pertinent documents (academic information, tax forms, visas, etc.) have been collected. Verifies tax status by interpreting and applying IRS laws and regulations, consulting with SI’s Office of General Counsel as necessary. Maintains the Fellowship website.

2. Interprets, develops and implements administrative policies related to fellowship program administration, defining administrative requirements and providing information to the Director, scientific divisions and administrative departments. Provides advice and assistance to scientific divisions on policies, procedures and budget matters pertaining to academic and research programs. Monitors grants awarded by SI. Ensures compliance with internal and external regulations affecting financial, tax, and budget processes. Meets regularly with division administrators and support staff to identify any problem areas or concerns, trends, areas of imbalance, etc. Ensures timely stipend payments. Prepares reports and analysis as requested by the supervisor.

3. Supports the career development of students and fellows. Designs, develops, and implements career and networking series open to all students and fellows at the Center for Astrophysics. Identifies and recruits panelists from industry and academia. Seeks input from students and fellows by forming subcommittees to discuss content and direction of events. Moderates and leads panel discussions, as well as informal networking events with speakers. Organizes academic seminars and social events for Harvard students and SAO Predoctoral Fellows to encourage interaction between the two groups. Counsels and advises Predoctoral Fellows, as needed, to ensure success in their research at SAO. Monitors interns through discussions with advisors and teachers.

4. Administers and monitors the Fellow health insurance plan. Manages actions (enrollments, terminations, changes) and proceedings (billing issues, monthly invoices) relating to insurance coverage. Facilitates problem-solving and resolution of benefit issues when requested by fellowship awardees. Works with insurance representatives to deliver timely information to fellowship population about their health benefits. Prepares and maintains records, reports, and other confidential information related to health care enrollment.

5. Develops customized databases that integrate applications, finance and accounting transactions, admissions, record-keeping, listservs, and interactive websites with the goal of minimizing duplication and reducing redundancy in information collection. Maintains accurate data for current fellows and archives data for former fellows for longitudinal analysis.

6. Prepares required statistical reports for SI and reports requested by the Director and ADs for use in developing various reports, e.g. for the Visiting Committee. Reviews awards, stipends and allowances making recommendations of any changes felt necessary to remain competitive within/across particular fields of study. Analyzes data, develops metrics and responds to requests from administrators for statistics on current and past fellows.