IAU African Astronomer Travel Fund

LSST Discovery Alliance (LSST-DA), in collaboration with the African Astronomical Society and the National Organizing Committee of the IAU General Assembly, is raising funds to support African astronomers to attend the IAU General Assembly in their own continent. This fundraising campaign is the sole avenue for individuals to donate to this program. 

Please join us in supporting our efforts to expand inclusion in astronomy! Below, you’ll find frequently asked questions about the travel fund, including how to donate and how to apply for funds.

What is the IAU General Assembly?

The IAU is the largest and most important international association of professional astronomers, across the world, with approximately 13,000 members. Every three years, the IAU organizes a General Assembly (GA) where thousands of astronomers meet to discuss progress in their scientific field. In 2024, and for the first time in the over 100-year history of the IAU, the GA will take place on the African continent.

Why is an African Astronomer Travel Fund needed?

Astronomy is currently an emerging scientific field in Africa. Although it is taught and researched, funding is often tight, and in particular, students and early-career researchers may not have local funds to enable them to attend professional conferences.

Attending a professional conference alongside the leaders in your field of study, including Nobel Prize winners, is often a life-changing and career-defining opportunity. In order to make the IAU GA a truly African and inclusive event, this fund will provide travel grants for professional astronomers who are working and living in Africa, including MSc and PhD students, to attend the GA.

Who will benefit from the fund?

The travel fund is intended for professional astronomers, including MSc and PhD students working and living in Africa who do not have enough local funds to finance their in-person or virtual attendance at the 2024 IAU GA.

Who can donate to the fund?

Anyone from anywhere in the world is welcome to contribute as much as they wish and can afford. Both individuals and organizations are welcome to contribute.

How long will this fundraising campaign be open?

This campaign will be open through at least March 15, 2024 – the deadline to apply for the African Astronomer travel grant to attend the 2024 IAU GA.

I cannot afford to donate. Can I help in another way?

Not everyone is in a position to contribute financially, but you can still help. You can, for instance, bring this fund to the attention of others who might be able to contribute, share the news about the IAU 2024 GA, or forward a message to possible grant recipients from Africa. There are also many ways to get involved in the events surrounding the GA, which would benefit African astronomers. See www.astronomy2024.org for more information. 

How can I/my organization/foundation/company donate?

  • To make a credit card contribution, use this secure online portal.
  • To donate by check, send to LSST Inc., Attn: African Astronomer Travel Fund, 933 North Cherry Avenue, Tucson, Arizona 85721 USA (Questions? +1-520-626-9349 – Dana Parks)
  • To make a brokerage account transfer, use the recipient name: LSST, Inc. (LSST Discovery Alliance), Tax ID 56-2390650. Please mark this transfer as “African Astronomer Travel Fund”
  • To make a donation via ACH or wire transfer, contact us to obtain banking information for the transfer. Please select Donation on the contact form.
  • To discuss a specific donation arrangement, contact us directly. Please select Donation on the contact form.

Can I or my organization be publicly acknowledged for our donation?

Yes, if desired. However, by default, the names of donors to the Travel Fund will remain anonymous. 

How much of my donation will go directly to funding African Astronomer participation in the 2024 IAU GA?

LSST-DA will direct 100% of funds received to AfAS. We are playing an administrative role in receiving donations and transferring them to AfAS and will keep none of the money.  A small percentage of your donated funds will go into fees levied by banks and credit cards when the funds are received by LSST-DA and transferred to AfAS. If contributions exceed the demand for travel support through this program, AfAS will use them to support astronomy programs in Africa.

How and when can I apply for travel funding?

You can make a request for travel support through the abstract submission form, which will open on November 30, 2023. Submitting an abstract and grant application will not require you to pay any registration fee in advance. When you submit an abstract to the IAU GA, you will be asked if you wish to apply for a grant from this travel fund, and you will complete the application at that time. There is no requirement for an accepted abstract, only that you have submitted one. The African Astronomical Society (AfAS) will review the requests for Africa-specific grants and directly notify applicants.

How will awards be made?

The African Astronomical Society (AfAS) will announce the selection criteria, review applications to the fund, and organize the selection of the awardees. They will work with the awardees to provide funds in an optimal way. AfAS will give priority to applicants who have submitted their abstract and obtained a talk/poster. 

Can I apply for an award from this Travel Fund?

AfAS will make full details on eligibility available in the call for applications.

What costs can the travel awards cover?

AfAS will provide details of eligible costs with the call for applications. Examples of costs under consideration include hotel, travel, visa, meal, and registration costs for 2024 IAU GA participation.