Flatiron Institute Center for Computational Astrophysics Pre-Doctoral Program


“The CCA Pre-doc Program has revolutionized my view of the field of astronomy and my place in it. Thanks to the support of my advisors and peers, the professional and healthy working environment at CCA, and the rich exchange of ideas that comes with the CCA being a gathering place for astronomers in town, I had never had such positive feelings about my research and my scientific identity. I aim to take back to my institution not only newfound ideas and motivation to take my research to the next level, but also to build culture and community to extend this invigorating experience to others in my department back home.”

Chris Lam – 2022-2023 pre-doc, University of Florida

“Being a pre-doc at the CCA was an amazing and invaluable experience. The CCA is a world-class institute with impressive science interests and researchers. With a very active and friendly community, I was inspired to think about my work in a broader context, try new methods and discuss these ideas with colleagues working on vastly different topics. The supervision was excellent; my mentors took time for me and helped me immensely during my project. I learned a lot during my time there. I have become a better programmer and scientist. As someone who has not previously worked in the U.S., it also gave me the possibility to expand my network immensely, through close ties with other local universities, the constant flux of visitors to the CCA, and opportunities to visit other institutes. I felt welcome from day one, both as part of the pre-doc group and as part of my scientific group. Throughout my time there, I made many friends. Living in New York City for five months gave me the time to experience the city to its fullest, from visiting various museums and strolling through the snowy Central Park to seeing cherry blossoms all over the city and relaxing at the beach on a hot summer weekend. I would recommend it to anyone!”

Sophia Lilleengen – 2021-2022 pre-doc, University of Surrey

“It has been a rewarding experience for me to be a pre-doc at the Flatiron Institute. I worked on polarization-modeling of millisecond pulsars and collaborated with some of the world’s leading scientists, like Drs. Yajie Yuan and Sasha Philippov. I have gained valuable knowledge about the scientific method and developed skills such as critical thinking, numerical analysis and data visualization. Overall, my experience as a pre-doc has been incredibly valuable and has prepared me well for my future career in academia.”

Ankan Sur – 2021-2022 pre-doc while a student at the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center; now a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University

“During my time at CCA, I engaged with each of my advisor’s previous predocs. It’s amazing to see how this continuing community, actively cultivated by my advisor and the plasma group, has grown and thrived far beyond the program’s short duration.”

Sophia Sánchez-Maes – 2021-2022 pre-doc, Harvard University

“Working at the Flatiron institute allowed me to experience a unique niche of academic research, with a highly lateral work structure that allows scientists at various stages of their career to interact with each other. Group meetings are made available to anyone who is interested in attending, and it’s highly encouraged to just get to know people working in different groups and even different departments. It was great to work with new people not only to build my network but also to get to know how other people go about mentoring and managing. The Flatiron Institute also made it easy to transition to the city and provided a convenient housing option that made it an immersive experience all around.”

Snigdaa Sethuram – 2021-2022 pre-doc, Georgia State University

“Working as a pre-doc at the CCA was the perfect opportunity for me to expand my research network and gain broad exposure to a range of ongoing scientific efforts. Through the program, I led a project of my own design together with an interdisciplinary team of brilliant colleagues. That freedom led to a suite of exciting new questions that now form the basis for my plans as a postdoctoral researcher. The environment at CCA is both fast-paced and supportive, and the regular visitors from around the world make it easy to forge new collaborations and friendships. I can’t recommend the program enough.”

Alex Gagliano – 2021-2022 pre-doc, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

“The Pre-doctoral Program was a fantastic experience that exploded the impact of my research and opportunities available to me as an astronomer. My research in graduate school had ventured far from my advisors’ expertise in high-redshift galaxy observations, and my time as a pre-doc under the mentorship of CCA research scientist Shy Genel was a great complement that also expanded the skills I was starting to build. The Flatiron Institute and CCA as a whole were and are supportive and fun places to work, even at the height of the pre-vaccine pandemic. I made great connections and relationships through the program and around the CCA, and I was able to engage with New York City in a really special way while living at The Alabama. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without having done the pre-doctoral program, and the research I started there is already taking me and my collaborators to very cool discoveries.”

Lucia Perez – 2020-2021 pre-doc while a student at Arizona State University; now a Future Faculty in the Physical Sciences Fellow at Princeton University

“The CCA Predoctoral Fellowship was one of the most rewarding scientific experiences of my career so far: I got to do awesome science, under great mentorship, with unparalleled access to a variety of experts in relevant subfields. I think about the CCA’s breakfast oatmeal more often than I’d like to admit.”

Iryna Butsky, 2019-2020 pre-doc when a student at University of Washington; now DuBridge Postdoctoral Scholar at Caltech

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