Catalyst Fellowship


Funded by the John Templeton Foundation, the Catalyst Fellowship aims to realize the full potential of the Rubin Observatory’s Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST), both through new discoveries and by creating exceptional opportunities for astrophysics and social science researchers, including those from traditionally under-represented groups and institutions.

LSST Discovery Alliance (LSST-DA) currently has two cohorts that began in 2022 and 2023. Applications are currently closed, but the archived astrophysics and social science calls for proposals are available for reference.

Program Overview

We seek early-career researchers who aspire not only to conduct their own cutting-edge scientific research but also to contribute to the program’s lasting legacy by building networks, learning and sharing skills, and cultivating practices that enable science with big data. Catalyst Fellows will:

  • Serve as ambassadors for the Rubin community in their home institutions
  • Lead community-focused projects that will broaden the impact of Rubin Observatory
  • Publish leading research in astrophysics and/or social sciences related to Rubin LSST
  • Develop critical connections with each other and the LSST Science Collaborations

Fellowships are held at a variety of US or international host institutions.

Types of Fellowships

Catalyst Symposium 2023. Credit: LSST-DA/R. Quinn (Urban Abstrakt)

If you’re interested in an upcoming fellowship, click below to see archived announcements, selection criteria, and application requirements. These FAQs are also helpful.

Fellowships in Astrophysics

Our astrophysics fellowships support postdoctoral scientists to make discoveries during the run-up to LSST and during the early years of LSST. The Fellowship is designed to train a diverse group of scientific leaders who are familiar with LSST’s capabilities to ensure its full potential is realized.

Fellowships in Social Science

Our social science fellowships support early-career social scientists to study the social aspects of this large-scale, innovative scientific endeavor. For example:

  • How collaboration networks form and interdisciplinary research is fostered
  • How original contributions develop
  • How gender and race influence scientific practice and mentoring
  • How social and technical developments influence the practice of astronomy and science policy
  • How the practice of science is evolving with the advent of new, big, open datasets

Software and Computing Resources through LINCC

The LSST-DA Catalyst Fellowship is a foundational part of the LSST Interdisciplinary Network for Collaboration and Computing (LINCC). One Catalyst fellow in each cohort sits at a LINCC Hub institution. All Catalyst fellows have opportunities to connect with the software development team of the LINCC Frameworks Initiative and participate in software development or serve as beta testers for software related to their science. They also receive computing resources in the cloud or on HPC to enable their LSST-related work.

Mentoring Resources

We provide Catalyst fellows with a suite of resources to promote informal and formal networking, mentoring, and leadership development across disciplines. Meet our Catalyst Fellowship mentors.

Collaboration and Mentoring Committees

Each fellow designs their own Collaboration and Mentoring Committee, which operates as a more mature, peer-to-peer version of a PhD student’s thesis committee. For each astrophysics fellow, the committee includes the fellow, the fellow’s local advisor, an additional faculty member or researcher from one of the LINCC Hub institutions, an active member of the LSST Science Collaborations (SCs), a faculty member from one of the expansion-site institutions, and a social scientist. To ensure these mentors have time and resources to engage meaningfully, the committee members from the SCs and those representing an expansion site each receive modest grants. Learn more about mentor goals and expectations.

Peer Mentoring, Leadership Training, and Annual Symposia

Virtual peer mentoring takes place monthly for all the fellows together (astrophysics and social sciences). We offer specific leadership training activities to all of the fellows. In addition, all participants come together for an annual symposium at one of the LINCC Hub institutions, featuring scientific talks by the Fellows as well as discussions and activities to further the fellowship program goals. These symposia are open to the scientific community.

Ideas Lab

We periodically host a virtual Ideas Lab workshop about the Catalyst Fellowship. We’ll publicize any future workshops on this website and throughout the Rubin LSST community.

These workshops are informational only and are not part of the selection process. They will, however, help applicants craft strong applications by enabling structured networking and brainstorming with faculty and researchers in the Rubin LSST research community.

We also encourage you to watch the overview of the Catalyst Fellowship presented at Rubin Observatory’s annual Project and Community Workshop in 2021.

Program Leadership

Jeno Sokoloski directs the Catalyst Fellowship program with the support of the Catalyst Fellowship steering committee, which Kathryn Johnson of Columbia University chairs.

Catalyst Fellowship Steering Committee

  • Kathryn Johnston, Columbia University
  • Vicky Kalogera, Northwestern University
  • James Davenport, University of Washington
  • Adriano Fontana, Italian National Institute for Astrophysics
  • Rachel Street, Las Cumbres Observatory
  • Jana Diesner, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (computational social science)
  • Jarita Holbrook, University of the Western Cape (astronomy and society)
  • Erin Leahey, University of Arizona (sociology)
  • Anissa Tanweer, University of Washington (culture and practice of data-intensive science)
  • Lois C Trautvetter, Northwestern University (education and social policy)

LSST Discovery Alliance gratefully acknowledges the John Templeton Foundation for its support of the Catalyst Fellowship.