Paid Research Positions for Creative Students

Curiosity and creativity are fundamental to scientific progress. Astronomers follow their curiosity, ask thoughtful questions, craft new paths to answers, observe what's around us, work hard, and help people understand the Universe in new ways. Artists do all that too! The Colorado Scholars of Astrophysics and Art is a program for undergraduate students to explore the Cosmos through funded research projects at the intersection of astronomy and art.

Colorado Scholars of Astrophysics and Art

The Colorado Scholars of Astrophysics and Art (CSA2) program provides paid research fellowships for undergraduate students, focused on discovery and exploration through astronomy and art at CU Boulder. Scholars will lead independent research projects that combine astrophysical research techniques with artistic creativity. Students participating in the CSA2 program will be primarily advised by Prof. Zach Berta-Thompson with access to consultation from members of his exoplanet research group and the broader campus community. In all this work, we will collectively strive for equity, collaborative learning, valuing diverse perspectives, and celebrating hard work and new ways of thinking.

Scholars will both work on structured projects with defined goals and have broad freedom to explore creative projects of their own choosing. Our goal is to help students connect more strongly to astronomical research and education, while also expanding the creative toolkits that may serve their future careers. For very loose example, work might include projects related to

  • generating simulated rainbows and sunsets from exoplanet atmosphere observations
  • creating 3D stereographic images from widely-separated cameras to demonstrate stellar parallax
  • photographing the astronomical sky using both digital detectors and photosensitive paper
  • cataloging spectra of reflected and emitted light sources on Earth and in space
  • developing patterns to knit the curvature of space-time around a black hole
  • illustrating pedagogical cartoons that teach astronomical concepts
  • writing poems with text scraped from literature papers
  • embroidering foundational astronomy plots on fabric
  • crafting LED constellations with paper electronics
  • animating logarithmic maps of the Universe
  • ...or countless other ideas you develop!

How to Apply

Current CU undergraduate students are eligible to apply. Funding is available to pay scholars $16/hour for working and learning up to 40 hours/week in the summer and up to 10 hours/week in the academic year. Additional funds will be available for materials and supplies. Work may be in-person or remote. Exact dates and the number of hours you want to work each week will be extremely flexible.

To be considered for Summer 2023 (June-August), please apply by 24 May 2023 (11:59pm). Applications will be reviewed by Zach Berta-Thompson with help from a small team of scientists/artists/scholars from the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences. To apply, please complete the application below, which asks for the following items:

  1. a brief resume/CV that includes previous work and academic experience
  2. a sample of any type of astronomical and/or artistic work that you have completed and of which you are particularly proud (a problem set, a painting, a piece of code, a photo, a homemade sundial, whatever)
  3. short statements about what strengths you feel you could bring to CSA2, what skills you would like learn and develop as scholar, and an idea in astrophysics you have found to be really beautiful or compelling
  4. your anticipated time availability for CSA2 over the summer
  5. some basic demographic information

Interview requests will be sent out soon after the application due date. If you have any questions about these scholarship positions or the application process, please contact Zach Berta-Thompson.

Previous CSA2

The first Colorado Scholars of Astrophysics and Art started in summer 2020:

We took a brief hiatus in 2021-2022, but we hope to return with more wonderful scholars in 2023!