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The ITC Alumni                                                          Make a Pledge To The ITC

The Institute for Theory and Computation (ITC) resides in the Theoretical Astrophysics Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. One of the primary objectives of the ITC is to integrate conceptual theory with computational modeling.


News report about a new paper on the detection of new planet Proxima b, that ITC Director Avi Loeb wrote with Laura Kreidberg (ITC and Harvard Society of Fellows Junior fellow).

ITC Director Avi Loeb was elected to serve as vice chair of the Board on Physics & Astronomy of the National Academies.

ITC Director Avi Loeb ITC Director Avi Loeb interviewed on the exciting new Exoplanet discovery.

ITC Director Avi Loeb ITC Director Avi Loeb interviewed on UK National Radio (August 14, 2016), about a wide variety of topics (including: What does he think of Star Trek?).

ITC Director Avi Loeb gave the keynote lecture "Innovation and Risk" at the Breakthrough Discuss conference in Stanford on April 15, 2016.

ITC Director Avi Loeb is interviewed in this PBS radio talk, regarding the development of intelligent life in the universe. Read the CfA press release.

Avi Loeb, ITC Director as well as Chair of the Breakthrough Starshot Advisory Committee, is interviewed in this video. Breakthrough Starshot is a $100 million research and engineering program aiming to demonstrate proof of concept for light-propelled nanocrafts. These could fly at 20 percent of light speed and capture images of possible planets and other scientific data in our nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, just over 20 years after their launch.

ITC Director Avi Loeb's life story and scientific contributions are highlighted in this video from the Smithsonian Science Education Center.

Congratulations to former ITC Postdoc Raffaella Margutti on accepting a position as Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Northwestern University, with the goal to start a hard-core observational program to follow-up Astronomical transients.

Congratulations to Zachary Slepian (Harvard, 2016) for winning the 2016 Eric Keto Prize for Graduate Students in Theoretical Astrophysics! The Keto Prize is awarded each year for the best thesis in theoretical astrophysics by a student at the CfA, as selected by the Senior Members of the ITC.

ITC director Avi Loeb will chair the Breakthrough Starshot advisory committee!

"What's Out there in the Universe?" from "Seven Days of Genius" at the 92Y In the last two decades, knowledge about our universe has exploded. Thanks to sophisticated instruments and space-traveling telescopes, we've gleaned astonishing new information about dark energy, dark matter, black holes, exoplanets and the nature of the early universe. Pluto, it turns out, may have water. Several of Jupiter's moons show signs of vast underground oceans. Our own Milky Way galaxy is filled with stars that host planets like our Earth. Abraham "Avi" Loeb, Chair of Harvard's Department of Astronomy and C. Meghan Urry, Director of Yale University's Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, take us on a tour of these remarkable discoveries.

Congratulations to Matt McQuinn and Mark Vogelsberger, former ITC postdocs, on receiving Sloan Fellowships!

Congratulations to former ITC member Phil Hopkins (Harvard, Astronomy, 2008), who received the 2016 Warner Prize from the AAS!

ITC Director Avi Loeb has published a paper on "Electromagnetic Counterparts to Black Hole Mergers Detected by LIGO".

A message from ITC director Avi Loeb: It is my great pleasure to report that the following bright stars will be shining at the ITC as our new postdoctoral fellows in 2016/17 (in alphabetical order):

*Ana Bonaca (Yale): ITC fellow

*Daniel D'Orazio (Columbia U.): Einstein/ITC fellow

*John Forbes (UCSC): ITC fellow

*Michael Johnson (SAO): Einstein/ITC fellow

*Laura Kreidberg (Chicago): Harvard Society/ITC fellow

*Caroline Morley (UCSC): Sagan/ITC fellow

In joining the ITC, the new fellows had to give up on offers from prestigious institutions such as Carnegie, IAS-Princeton and UC Berkeley. Our recruitment success rate was 86% (6 out of 7), and yielded candidates of exceptional quality and gender diversity (50% women). Our special thanks go to the ITC postdoc selection committee, chaired by Lars Hernquist, and including the members Blakesley Burkhart, Charlie Conroy, Benedikt Diemer, James Guillochon, Jill Naiman ,Karin Oberg, Annalisa Pillepich, Kate Rubin and myself. Please join me in welcoming the above list of brilliant young scientists to the ITC corridor.

Registration is now open for the Ninth Harvard-Smithsonian Conference on Theoretical Astrophysics: The Transient Sky, May 16 - 19, 2016 in Cambridge MA. Sponsored by Raymond and Beverly Sackler and Irwin Shapiro.

Former ITC Fellow Raffaella Margutti (now a Research Scientist in Physics at NYU) has received a Scialog Award--given to early career scientists from astronomy, astrophysics and computational science interested in pursuing collaborative, high-risk, highly impactful discovery research in Time Domain Astrophysics. Her team will research "Bringing Novae into the Twenty-First Century."

ITC Senior Faculty Member Rosanne Di Stefano is the featured guest on Planetary Radio. Rosanne discusses new research indicating that globular clusters--collections of up to a million stars--could provide stable environments for life, along with opportunities for interstellar civilizations.

Former ITC Fellow Konstantin Batygin (currently a Caltec assistant professor) and his Caltec colleague Michael Brown laid out the arguments for the existence of a ninth planet in our solar system.

Former ITC Fellow Smadar Naoz has received the Annie Jump Cannon Award for outstanding research and promise for future research by a postdoctoral woman researcher. It is given to a North American female astronomer within five years of receiving her PhD in the year designated for the award.

The American Astronomical Society has awarded the Newton Lacy Pierce Prize for 2016 to Karin Oberg.

The Pierce Prize is awarded annually for outstanding achievement over the past five years in observational astronomical research based on measurements of radiation from astronomical objects. It is given to an astronomer who has not attained 36 years of age in the year designated for the award. The citation reads:

"The AAS awards Dr. Karin I. Oberg the Pierce Prize for her research on the astrochemistry and astrophysics of ices and molecules in star-forming regions and proto-planetary disks. The panel recognizes Dr. Oberg's scientific leadership in her ability to identify important, well-defined, and tractable problems, yielding fundamental advances in the field of star and planet formation. Dr. Oberg's combination of experimental work matched to focused millimeter observations and comparison simulations provides novel insight into the details of chemical processes taking place in planet-forming circumstellar disks. The resulting implications for star- and planet-formation chemistry, and in particular evidence for the ubiquity of complex organic chemistry, have a significant impact across astrophysics, astrochemistry, and astrobiology."

The prize includes a cash award and an invitation to give a plenary talk at an AAS meeting (with travel expenses paid by the Society).

Congratulations to Einstein Fellow Dr. Blakesley K. Burkhart, who has been selected as a finalist for the 2016 APS Outstanding Doctoral Thesis in Astrophysics for her thesis "New Measurements of Magnetohydrodyanmic Turbulence in the Multiphase Interstellar Medium" (UW Madison, 2014). Blakesley will travel to Salt Lake City to give the award talk at the American Physical Sciences meeting in April 2016.

ITC Director Avi Loeb is featured in the cover story on "The Archaeology of Stars" in the December issue of . Discover magazine.

ITC Director Avi Loeb's presented a lecture on "Black Holes" at the 100 Years Celebration of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, held at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton on November 6, 2015. Watch the video.

Ed Turner from Princeton University presented a special talk on "Improbable Life: An Unappealing But Plausible Scenario for Life's Origin on Earth." Watch the video.

Congratulations to ITC Director Avi Loeb and Senior Faculty member Doug Finkbeiner on being named Fellows of the American Physical Society! This is a high honor, restricted to 0.5% of the membership in a given year.

Another ITC success story: Paolo Pani, a former long-term ITC postdoc visitor (who worked with Avi Loeb), has just received a tenure-track position at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. Congratulations!

ITC Director Avi Loeb is featured in the BBC program "Cosmic Dawn: The Real Moment of Creation." Watch the video.

With the goal of inspiring young children to enter science, the Science Education Center of the Smithsonian Institution produced a video about ITC Director Avi Loeb's unconventional career path from a farm in Israel to professor at Harvard. Watch the video.

A special ITC Colloquium was given by Stuart Firestein (chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University) on "Ignorance, Failure, Uncertainty and Doubt - Why Science is so successful" on May 21, 2015. Watch the video.

Congratulations to Gongjie Li (Harvard, 2015) for winning the 2015 Eric Keto Prize for Graduate Students in Theoretical Astrophysics! Before entering the PhD program at Harvard, Giongie ranked first among the astrophysics undergrads in her 2010 class at Caltech. Over the past four years, Gongjie was the lead author on an unusually large and diverse set of original papers, one of which is path breaking. Dr. Li accepted a prestigious Harvard Junior Fellowship starting in July 2015--after turning down Einstein and Hubble Fellowships, the Spitzer fellowship, and the KIPAC fellowship at Stanford.

Astronomy magazine just posted the following podcast of an hour-long interview with ITC Director Avi Loeb in their series "Superstars of Astronomy". The interview covers a broad range of topics ranging from the promotion of diversity and innovation to some of the most exciting frontiers in present-day astrophysics.

The Illustris group's (featuring ITC members Lars Hernquist, Dylan Nelson, and Shy Genel) simulation work was chosen as one of the top stories (#5) in all of physical science last year by Physics Database.com.

Please join us in welcoming our stellar recruitments. We look forward to seeing them in our corridor after the summer.

ITC Director Avi Loeb gives a colloquium organized by Harvard's Center of Mathematical Sciences and Applications, entitled "A Closer Look at Black Holes" , Part One.

ITC Director Avi Loeb is interviewed for an upcoming episode of BBC's science and philosophy documentary series, "Horizon".

NEWS ARCHIVE: Click here for a listing of previous news items.

PHOTO ARCHIVE: Click here for a listing of photos from past years.


For general directions to the CfA, click here.

Directions and other information for visitors may be found here (password protected).


Visiting Scholars

Faculty on sabbatical from institutions outside Harvard wishing to conduct research at the ITC, typically for one semester in residence, may contact the ITC Director, Avi Loeb. Applicants must be endorsed and nominated by Senior ITC members.

Postdoctoral Fellowships

For application procedures for the ITC Postdoctoral Fellowship, please click here.

Predoctoral Fellowships

Graduate students at institutions outside Harvard wishing to conduct thesis research at the ITC for a period of one year may apply to the SAO Predoctoral Program.

The ITC also has limited funds to support students wishing to conduct research at the ITC for a period of one to three months. For more information, please email itcinfo[at]cfa.harvard.edu.


The Eric R. Keto Prize for Graduate Students in Theoretical Astrophysics, endowed with a generous donation by ITC Senior Member Eric Keto, is awarded each year for the best thesis in theoretical astrophysics by a student at the CfA, as selected by the Senior Members of the ITC. The restriction is that the nominated student needs to receive her/his PhD in the year of the award on a topic in theoretical astrophysics. The student can be from any department within Harvard as long as her/his advisor is a senior member at the ITC.

  • 2016 - Zachary Slepian
  • 2015 - Gongie Li
  • 2014 - Katherine Deck and Paul Torrey
  • 2013 - Robert Penna
  • 2012 - Laura Blecha
  • 2011 - Gurtina Besla
  • 2010 - Claude-Andre Faucher-Giguere
  • 2009 - Matt McQuinn (Astronomy) and Rebecca Shafee (Physics)


Ninth Harvard-Smithsonian Conference on Theoretical Astrophysics: The Transient Sky, May 16 - 19, 2016 in Cambridge MA. Sponsored by Raymond and Beverly Sackler and Irwin Shapiro.

Eighth Harvard-Smithsonian Conference on Theoretical Astrophysics: Debates on the Nature of Dark Matter, May 19 - 22, 2014 in Cambridge MA. Sponsored by Raymond and Beverly Sackler and Irwin Shapiro.

Seventh Harvard-Smithsonian Conference on Theoretical Astrophysics: Testing General Relativity (GR) with Astrophysical Systems, May 14 - 17, 2012 in Cambridge MA. Sponsored by Raymond and Beverly Sackler and Irwin Shapiro.


For information on all Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics postdoctoral research fellowship opportunities, please click here.

Information on the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship Program, can be found here.

Canadian citizens may apply for funding through the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.

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