Spring 2022 Newsletter

As the Rubin Observatory’s Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) moves towards commissioning and first light, the LSST Corporation moved into 2022 with a renewed sense of purpose and vision. Our extraordinary sense of accomplishment at having realized some major goals gives us momentum going into the new year.

Program Updates

Three years ago, LSSTC and its member institutions, in consultation with the LSST Science Collaborations, began to envision an LSSTC flagship Initiative that would support the Rubin LSST science community with a suite of community programs administered through a network of data science centers — the LSST Inter-disciplinary Network for Collaboration and Computing (LINCC). Thanks to major gifts from two private foundations last year, LSSTC was able to launch two core components of LINCC, the LSSTC Catalyst Fellowship, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, and the LINCC Frameworks, funded by the Schmidt Futures Foundation.

Catalyst Fellowship

The LSSTC Catalyst Fellowship, starting in Fall, 2022, will support early-career researchers in astrophysics and the social sciences whose research relates to Rubin LSST or the Rubin science community. The Fellowship will help realize the full potential of the Rubin LSST both through accelerating new discoveries and training a diverse group of outstanding scientific leaders, including those from traditionally under-represented groups and institutions.

The inclusion of social scientists, who will investigate changes in the field of astrophysics, the career trajectories of astrophysicists, and the practice of team science in response to LSST is just one novel aspect of this Fellowship. Another is the inclusion of structured mentorship and leadership training. Most Fellows will conduct their research at an LSSTC member institution of their own choosing. Fellows will develop critical connections with each other and with the Science Collaborations across the worldwide LSST community, contributing to the program’s legacy by building networks, learning and sharing skills, and cultivating practices that enable science with big data. Diversity, equity, and inclusion will be prioritized in all aspects of the LSSTC Catalyst Fellowship.

Catalyst Fellowship Program Leadership – Steering Committee

Left to Right: Anissa Tanweer (U Washington, culture and practice of data-intensive science), Kathryn Johnston (co-chair, Columbia, astrophysics), Erin Leahey (U Arizona, sociology), Jeno Sokoloski, (Catalyst Director, LSSTC & Columbia), Lois C Trautvetter (Northwestern, education and social policy), Vicky Kalogera (co-chair, Northwestern, astrophysics), ), Masao Sako (U Pennsylvania, astrophysics), James Davenport (U Washington, astrophysics), Adriano Fontana (INAF, astrophysics, Rachel Street (Las Cumbres Observatory, astrophysics), Jarita Holbrook (University of the Western Cape, astronomy and society), Jana Diesner (U Illinois Urbana-Champaign, computational social science)

LINCC Frameworks

The LINCC Frameworks project, a collaboration between the University of Washington (UW), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and the LSSTC, will allow LINCC to build critical infrastructure and develop tools to help enable the large-scale science that will be driven by the LSST data. LINCC will lead the development of a cloud-first (deployable on the cloud and High-Performance Computing) open-source software infrastructure that will support the LSST science community’s robust and scalable science analyses across a broad range of science cases in astronomy and cosmology. A primary goal of LINCC Frameworks, jointly based at CMU and UW, is to provide scientists with tools that enable them to carry out new and improved analysis techniques that can accommodate the scale and complexity of the LSST data, creating meaningful and useful pipelines of discovery.

LSSTC and the Frameworks leadership team will run programs to engage the astrophysics community in the design, testing, and use of the new tools throughout the project. The first of these programs, a workshop called “From Data to Software to Science with the Rubin Observatory LSST”, took place March 28-30, 2022, and is being followed by the development of a community white paper on computational needs that cut across LSST science cases. Teams from UW and CMU, along with collaborators at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and the University of Pittsburgh, will collaborate with scientists and software engineers from the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC) at NOIRLab and Rubin Observatory to ensure the resulting analysis framework is accessible to the broader astronomical community. The multi-year collaboration will fundamentally change how scientists use modern computational methods to make sense of big data.

The three points of contact for the LINCC Frameworks project are Andy Connolly, University of Washington, Rachel Mandelbaum, Carnegie Mellon University, and Jeno Sokoloski, LSSTC and Columbia University. Stay tuned for future updates about key LINCC Frameworks personnel and leadership.

Headshot of Andy Connolly.
Headshot of Rachel Mandelbaum.
Headshot of Jennifer Sokoloski.

Welcome Corporate Philanthropic Partner!

The Corporate Philanthropic Partners program of the LSST Corporation is our way of recognizing businesses that are investing in information technology and the future of science. LSSTC proudly announced Wasabi Technologies LLC as the first, founding, Corporate Philanthropic Partner and welcomed them to the LSSTC family. Wasabi’s generous support will fund a special Enabling Science grant for a single LSSTC Member Institution to provide funding for a graduate student, postdoc, or research scientist, including salary, tuition, and/or stipend, and direct costs towards travel, publications, etc.

Through generous philanthropy, corporations have long shown their commitment to understanding the dynamic universe in which we live, and to searching for that understanding through research from a diverse, and diversifying, cadre of researchers. Our Corporate Philanthropic Partners are visionaries who see the potential in a data-driven, critical inquiry-based project like LSST. We are grateful for, applaud, and welcome corporate support.

2021 Enabling Science Grant Awards

LSSTC’s Enabling Science program funded 34 proposals from our members and the LSST community to support student researchers working on projects connected to Rubin LSST science. The grants supplemented stipends and other resources that will help the researchers contribute to preparing for LSST science. View brief summaries of their proposed work.

Thank You!

LSST Corporation has been fortunate to have the support of institutions across the globe, as well as generous individuals, foundations, and corporations, who have been investing in LSST science. These donors will be the cornerstone of research based on the Legacy Survey of Space and Time for years to come.

Special thanks go out to all the volunteers who participated in launching the LINCC Catalyst Fellowship and LINCC Frameworks project. Thank you for your time, hard work, and expertise! We appreciate your amazing generosity and dedication. The startup of these core programs couldn’t have been as successful without your involvement.

LSSTC continues to build on the passion and talents of its staff, leadership from the Board of Directors, and the commitment and support of member institutions, the science community, and our stakeholders. Thank you –  we wouldn’t be here without you.


Patricia (Pat) Eliason, Executive Officer,  LSST Corporation
Lucas Macri, Executive Board Chair, Texas A&M University