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Director Cambridge, MA

Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institution jointly seek an astrophysicist with outstanding research accomplishments and demonstrated administrative ability to serve as the next Director of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA). The CfA is a unique, collaborative center, bringing together faculty from the Harvard Department of Astronomy, housed at the Harvard College Observatory (HCO), with scientists and staff from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO). The combined intellectual capital, expertise, and resources of the HCO and SAO has positioned the CfA to achieve and maintain its status as one of the most influential entities in the field of astronomy and astrophysics. The CfA Director serves as both the Director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory with a Smithsonian Trust indefinite appointment and as the Director of the Harvard College Observatory. The Director also serves as a tenured professor in the Department of Astronomy at Harvard University.

The Center for Astrophysics is home to over 900 staff members, including nearly 300 Ph.D. researchers and numerous students, technical staff, and administrative staff. The CfA is one of the largest groups of astronomers and astrophysicists in the world, conducting cutting-edge, curiosity-driven research into fundamental questions about the universe. The breadth of the Center is a particular strength: researchers work across observational, theoretical, and experimental realms, with strong engineering and mission leadership capabilities, and bring expertise spanning the electromagnetic spectrum, allowing them to conduct research across small and large scales.

Education is a core tenet at the CfA, and 41% of scientists in the astronomy section of the National Academy of Sciences were educated by, taught at, or conducted research at the CfA. Harvard University’s Department of Astronomy offers a Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics, and students perform their research at the CfA. The SAO also offers a pre-doctoral fellowship program to provide opportunities for graduate students from other universities to work with CfA scientists. The CfA also hosts around 100 postdoctoral fellows in any given year. The CfA is actively engaged in education at the elementary and secondary levels, providing curriculum and opportunities for professional development for teachers.

As director of both the HCO and the SAO, the CfA Director serves as the conduit between two historic and globally admired institutions. The director will have significant fundraising responsibilities and will serve as the public face of the CfA, communicating the accomplishments of the Center to the scientific community, funding agencies, philanthropic groups, and the greater public. The director will look to the future of the field and position the CfA to remain a preeminent institution, supporting faculty and scientists, and investing resources into new projects, technologies, and staff. The director will be a vocal champion and advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, continuing to implement best practices to attract, mentor, and retain diverse talent and developing new initiatives to advance representation in the field and at the CfA.

John Muckle is leading this search with Nick Strand.


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