Expansion Partnership Program

The Expansion Partnership Program is designed to make LSST science accessible to research communities that might otherwise be excluded. Our goal is to increase the diversity of active LSST-DA member institutions, thereby expanding inclusive participation in Rubin LSST science.

Program Overview

We facilitate partnerships between two institutions (or consortia)—one being an LSST Discovery Alliance (LSST-DA) standard member and the other a small, under-resourced institution in Rubin LSST science, referred to as an expansion member. 

A standard member institution in good standing may choose to confer LSST-DA membership to an expansion member at no additional cost to anyone. Each institution in the partnership will be a full institutional member of LSST-DA. All member institutions benefit from access to resources, influence, and visibility and a like-minded community establishing new norms of inclusive participation in astrophysics. Expansion partnerships will position faculty and students at expansion member institutions to participate in Rubin LSST science networks and the design and development of new programs to support their use of Rubin LSST data.

The standard member of an expansion partnership will work actively to include the expansion member in their astronomical community and to integrate them into the LSST-DA Institutional Board. In addition, accepted expansion partnerships must submit an annual one to two-page report on partnership activities to the Membership Committee.

Expansion Partnership Program Benefits

Benefits for standard members of the partnership include:

  • Close connections to a new community of researchers and students with interests and expertise related to Rubin LSST
  • Recognition as a leader in community building and inclusion, including public recognition as an Expansion Sponsor on our website
  • Concrete and direct contribution to inclusive participation in STEM through a structured program and with a cohort of institutions with similar goals
  • Opportunity to pursue support for membership costs from individuals or funding organizations that prioritize unique and low-cost approaches to building regional connections, building community, and/or increasing inclusive participation in STEM
  • Funding to travel to LSST-DA Board Meetings and send a student on a research trip

Benefits for expansion members of the partnership include:

  • Shaping LSST-DA plans and programs through the Institutional Board and elected Executive Board
  • Integration in a network of larger institutions
  • Access to funding and resources that are prioritized for institutional members
  • Increased institutional visibility among an international coalition of LSST-DA members
  • Kickoff research funding to establish initial engagement
  • Annual funding to travel to LSST-DA board meetings to send a student on a research trip

Expansion Partnership Program Funding

LSST-DA currently has funded support for ten partnerships. For each partnership, we can offer:

  • $14,000 in one-time support to invest in each expansion institution’s success
  • $5,000 in annual support for partnership student participation in Rubin LSST-related research travel (e.g., a conference or to another institution)
  • $3,600 in annual support for expansion sponsor and expansion institution to attend the annual LSST-DA board meeting
  • Sponsored cohort development meetings in 2024 and 2025

Program Application Process

Any LSST-DA member institution can submit an application. There are three steps to the process.

Step 1 | Expansion Institution Status Request

Please prepare a one to two-page document that addresses:

  • The barrier to paying standard membership dues
  • How the inclusion of the candidate expansion institution would diversify voices in the LSST-DA and/or Rubin LSST community
  • The existence, or lack thereof, of a local network of established academic programs with Rubin LSST engagement
  • The educational level (e.g., PUI, developing a Ph.D. program or an established Ph.D. program), population served (e.g., a private institution, public institution, or MSI), access to research resources, membership in other surveys/collaborations (e.g., SDSS), research rating (e.g., R1, R2, other), and the number of astrophysics faculty members.

Step 2 | Expansion Partnership Plan

The proposed partner institutions work together to prepare a one to two-page document that addresses:

  • The expected involvement of the expansion member in LSST-DA
  • How the standard member will include their proposed expansion partner in their astronomical community and in Rubin LSST activities, including LSST-DA activities
  • Expectations for the time invested and roles for each institutional member of the partnership
  • Plans for allocation of the Expansion Partnership funding (if available)

Step 3 | Board Approval

The Membership Committee reviews the proposal and associated input, consults with the LSST-DA CEO, Chair, or other Board members as needed, and makes a recommendation to the full Executive Board.

Program Collaborators

LSST-DA Staff and Board

LSST Scientific Community

  • Dr. Tim Sacco, NOIRLab/University of Arizona, LSST-DA Catalyst Fellow
    Social scientist who specializes in research inclusion and cross-institutional partnerships
  • Dr. Gloria Fonseca Alvarez, Rubin Observatory Operations Community Science Team, Postdoctoral Research Associate; Invested in inclusive Rubin Data Preview access and engagement activities with researchers at small, minority-serving, and/or underserved institutions
  • Dr. Bryan Scott, Northwestern University, LSST-DA Data Science Fellowship Program Postdoctoral Fellow; Brings leadership experience in inclusion-fostering networks from his former role in the APS Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Alliance (IDEA) network of physicists.