Center for Computational Astrophysics Pre-Doctoral Program: Important Information
For a general overview of the program and application process, please view this short video.
Here, we provide some important information about the program that prospective and accepted pre-docs might find helpful. Applicants should not feel obligated to read this document but may find it helpful; accepted applicants should read it in full. Please note that none of the below should be considered legal or financial advice, and we do not endorse any specific products, services, or websites.
Please reach out to Chris Hayward if you have any questions.
What do I need to do prior to my start date at CCA?
We encourage international students to consider opening a checking account in U.S. dollars prior to coming to NYC to ensure that their first paycheck is deposited as soon as possible. If this is not possible, you will need to apply at a bank branch. Bank of America, which has a branch at 5th Ave. and 23rd St. (two blocks from the Flatiron Institute), is one option that requires a passport only (no social security number needed). Chase and Wells Fargo are other options.
The following websites may be useful:
What are the anticipated start and end dates?
Fall pre-docs start late August and end late January. Spring pre-docs start late January or early February and end late June. HR will provide the exact dates. If the dates cause any problems, please reach out to Chris Hayward for assistance.
How should I handle my institutional tuition costs while participating in this program?
In order to participate in the program, the pre-doc’s advisor and department chair (or other appropriate individual) must sign a letter stating that the pre-doc’s home institution will waive or otherwise cover the predoc’s tuition. CCA does not provide money for tuition, and you should not be charged.
Will medical benefits be available?
Medical benefits are provided to pre-docs hired as temporary full-time employees for the five-month program. The HR team will provide further details when a formal offer is presented.
Will computing resources will be available?
Pre-docs are provided with a laptop and external monitor as part of the onboarding process. While employed at the CCA, pre-docs have access to Flatiron clusters. Pre-docs’ accounts are closed at the end of their employment at the CCA, and they are responsible for transferring any required data elsewhere. Pre-docs should consult with their mentors if this will be problematic, as it is possible to extend cluster accounts (but not email, etc.) if merited. In addition, laptops will be returned to the Simons Foundation at the end of the pre-doctoral appointment during the offboarding process.
What housing options are available?
Pre-docs are given priority for apartments in the Simons Foundation-owned discounted apartment building, The Alabama, located in Greenwich Village, 0.5 miles from the Flatiron. The total cost to the employee (rent + tax) is very favorable for the building’s location. Rents are in line with those charged by local universities for comparable accommodations. Rent includes all utilities, insurance, cable and internet.
The apartments are furnished, but it may be necessary to purchase some household items (For example, previous pre-docs have established a collection of kitchenware for the benefit of future pre-docs). At The Alabama, all fully furnished units include a TV, couch, coffee table, dining table, chairs, dishwasher and a two-in-one microwave/convection oven. Each bedroom/studio has a full-sized bed, TV, wardrobe, a study desk and chair. Pre-docs will receive a video tour prior to move-in, as well as a list of what items are included with rent.
Pre-docs also have the option to rent or sublet market-rate apartments outside of The Alabama if preferred. Useful sites include Airbnb and StreetEasy. Please note that if you rent a market-rate apartment, you may be subject to broker fees and/or security deposit fees.
How can I get help with a visa?
The Simons Foundation’s HR team will assist international pre-docs with procuring the necessary visa/work authorization.
Is there any relocation support?
Relocation benefits will include round-trip travel to/from New York City. Incoming pre-docs typically purchase their own flights and are reimbursed in their first paycheck. If reimbursement is not a viable option from a cash-flow perspective, pre-docs should reach out to their Simons Foundation HR representative, cc’ing Chris Hayward, for assistance. Please note that relocation expenses are considered taxable income. Applicable taxes will be taken out of the first paycheck.
What meal-plan options are available?
Breakfast and lunch will be provided on site every weekday for the pre-doc cohort.
How will I get my paycheck?
All Simons Foundation employees are paid semi-monthly via direct deposit. The quoted salary is pre-tax, and federal and state taxes are withheld from each paycheck. Pre-docs will need to file a tax return and may receive a tax refund at the end of the calendar year(s) during which they work at CCA. Online tax calculators such as this one may be useful for planning purposes. Cost-of-living estimators such as this one may also be helpful.
How frequently should I plan to communicate with my advisor?
Pre-docs and their mentors should regularly communicate with the student’s advisor at their home institution. We recommend arranging monthly Zoom meetings.
What additional meetings and workshops should I attend during my appointment?
An ongoing list of upcoming events at the CCA is available here. Pre-docs should ask their mentors for guidance about which weekly meetings and events they should attend.
Are there any funds for external travel during my appointment?
The CCA will fund travel to one conference for the purpose of presenting research done at the CCA either during the pre-doc’s time at the CCA or up to six months after the end of the program.
Are page charges covered by CCA during my appointment?
The CCA will cover a pre-doc’s share of the page charges for work started at the CCA. Page charges should be divided amongst co-authors as they would for any other collaborative paper.
What are program expectations?
Pre-docs are expected to work standard hours, primarily from the CCA offices at 162 5th Avenue, for the duration of their visit. Some degree of flexibility on hours and working location may be arranged with the pre-doc’s manager (usually their research supervisor at CCA). Similarly, the pre-doc is expected to spend the majority of their working time while here working on their proposed project and interacting with CCA collaborators, but this balance should be determined in conversation with the pre-doc’s advisor(s).
What are the “end of program” expectations?
Pre-docs are invited to give a short, 15-minute presentation on their work to the CCA community as part of a wrap-up symposium event. Symposia typically occur during the second-to-last week of the program, but timing may vary.
- Is there a list of alumni for the CCA Predoctoral Program?