FCAD Education/Research Fellow for AY 2023/24 to AY 2025/26

The Five College Astronomy Department (FCAD) is a partnership that combines the talent and resources of a prestigious department of an R1 state university (University of Massachusetts Amherst) and small departments from four high caliber liberal arts colleges (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges). A centerpiece of the collaboration is our commitment to excellent undergraduate educational opportunities, including a shared curriculum, opportunities for student research with faculty from all schools, and an Educational/Research Initiative that supports a postdoctoral Education/Research Fellow and provides for observing time and student travel to a professional observatory in Arizona.

We are searching for a Fellow to start in Fall 2023. This Fellow will be based in the Astronomy Department at Mount Holyoke College, and will teach at both Mount Holyoke College and Smith College. Teaching mentorship will be provided by Prof. Darby Dyar (Mount Holyoke) and Prof. Kim Ward-Duong (Smith). The Fellow will also be a member of the FCAD, and research mentorship will be provided by faculty in FCAD most closely aligned with the research area of the fellow. The annual salary rate for 2023/24 is $60,000 plus full benefits

EDUCATION: The Fellow is expected to teach one course to astronomy majors each semester and to supervise one or more students in research projects during the summer or academic year. Classes will be taught at Mount Holyoke College and Smith College and are open to qualified students from all FCAD schools.  

Fall Class:  AST 337 Observational Techniques I:. This course will offer a basic introduction to working with astronomical images and/or spectra, including retrieving archival data by querying large databases, basic data reduction and analysis techniques, and writing Python programs for data manipulation and statistical analysis. This course is a prerequisite for AST341. This course will be taught at Smith College and in year 1 it will be co-taught with Prof. Ward-Duong.

Spring Class: AST 341 Observational Techniques II: This course is fairly well established but would be modified by the Fellow to cover a scientific topic aligned with the Fellow's own research, such as galaxy properties, molecular clouds, HII regions, circumstellar disks, exoplanets, etc. The course begins with an 8 night observing run at Kitt Peak National Observatory in January before the spring term starts. The class will use a professional telescope in Arizona (either WIYN 0.9m on Kitt Peak or Perkins 1.8m near Flagstaff) to investigate a science topic selected in advance by the Fellow. During the semester, students will work in small teams, writing research proposals to work on subsets of the class data, and reducing and analyzing it during weekly seminars through the semester. Scientific results will be presented in a poster session to the full Five College Astronomy Department at the end of the semester and may result in co-authorship on a published paper. A previous syllabus of AST 341 is here. This course will be taught at Mount Holyoke College.

RESEARCH: The Fellow is expected to have a vibrant research program that has synergy with other research in the Five College Astronomy Department. FCAD provides the fellow with a small research stipend to cover travel, publications, computer and other research expenses. The Fellow will have offices at MHC and Smith as well as in the Astronomy Department at the University of Massachusetts. Applicants will have the opportunity to participate in science projects with the Large Millimeter Telescope in Mexico.

SubmitCandidates must hold a Ph.D. in astronomy.  Submit application to careers.mtholyoke.edu with (1) a cover letter; (2) a curriculum vitae; (3) a statement of research goals and a proposal for a research project that would be conducted during your time in the FCAD; (4) a statement of educational goals and teaching experience, including an indication of what you would offer to the planned observational astronomy course(s) and a second possible course; and (5) three confidential letters of recommendation. Review of applications will begin December 1, 2022.