LSSTC Catalyst Fellowship Opportunities

Dear Potential LSSTC Catalyst fellows -- Columbia is an invigorating place to be an astronomer, astrophysicist or cosmologist. We enjoy the intellectual vibrancy that follows from the diverse nature of our research programs. We sit at the nexus of an explosion of astronomical research in the Tri-State area. We have forged a Big Apple community with our colleagues at Barnard, AMNH, the City University of New York (CUNY), New York University (NYU), and the Flatiron Institute Center for Computational Astrophysics (CCA). Researchers in the Departments of Astronomy and Physics at Columbia work on a variety of topics related to core science goals of LSST.

Gravitational Wave events - optical observations

Columbia astronomers and physicists are involved in all aspects of multi-messenger gravitational wave astrophysics, ranging from experimental efforts within LIGO to theoretical work focused on LIGO/LISA/PTA sources and their associated optical transient counterparts. See this paper for an example of our vision for joint LSST/LIGO science opportunities. (Haiman, Levin, May, Marka, Metzger, Paerels)

We have a strong Theoretical High Energy Astrophysics Group studying compact objects and gravitational waves.

Haiman's research includes binaries of stellar-mass compact objects, whose time variable EM counterparts in LSST will complement GW observations by ground-based GW detectors.


We have pioneers in the use of time series data and machine learning to detect planets and extract fundamental planetary and stellar properties (Agüeros, Angus, Kipping, Ness, Oppenheimer).

Possible projects in the area of extrasolar planets include the discovery of transiting planets around white dwarf stars and the search for stellar mass black holes using exoplanet-themed phase curve methods. See the Cool World Labs


We have long-standing interests in the nature of transient sources produced by novae and supernovae (Helfand, Metzger, Patterson, Shara, Sironi, Sokoloski).

Galaxy formation

We study Galaxy formation, interactions and evolution, Stellar Populations, the Milky Way and the Local Group (Bryan, Johnston, Mac Low, Ostriker, Putman, Shiminovich, van Gorkom)

Melissa Ness and Kathryn Johnston are interested in galaxies on a star-by-star level. They use measurements of stellar positions, motions and abundances in the Milky Way and Local Group to tease out insights into the dynamical processes that shape galaxies, and the histories of star formation that have populated them. LSST offers rich opportunities in these areas. It’s time-domain capabilities can be used to track motions of faint objects in the outer Galaxy as well as identify variable stars as tracers structure entirely across the Local Group - both unexplored frontiers.

Greg Bryan simulates the formation of galaxies in a cosmological context using a variety of numerical codes and is interested in making comparisons between these simulations and galaxies observed as part of LSST.

Mordecai-Mark Mac Low studies the formation of stars and star clusters in galaxies with numerical simulations. LSST data will allow exciting comparisons to dynamical and chemical properties of stellar populations.

Mary Putman studies the gas in nearby galaxies and will link the gas content and spectroscopic information from the gas to new objects found with LSST.

Supermassive Black Holes

We have researchers exploring the growth of supermassive black holes at galactic centers (Bryan, Haiman, Halpern, Sironi).

Haiman's research includes binaries of massive BHs whose time variable EM counterparts in LSST will complement GW observations by LISA. It also includes the formation and evolution of the earliest quasars, for which LSST will provide a ground-breaking new sample.

Greg Bryan simulates the formation of the first generation of stars and black holes as well as the co-evolution of galaxies and black holes and is interested in connecting theoretical predictions to observational indicators from LSST.

Weak lensing

Our members are forging new approaches to analyze weak lensing data for insights into cosmology (Haiman, Hill, Hui, May).

Haiman is exploring cosmology with LSST data, specifically weak lensing and standard sirens with joint GW and EM data, including the application of novel machine learning methods.

Hill is working on cosmological inference from LSST data using higher-order statistics, as well as constraining astrophysical feedback scenarios using cross-correlations of LSST data and upcoming CMB surveys, including the Simons Observatory and CMB-S4.

Resources at Columbia

At Columbia there are copious opportunities to present your work, learn from others, and forge collaborations. Columbia Astronomy and Physics hold seminars and colloquia, informal talks and paper discussion, as well as workshops and other meetings resulting in frequent national and international visitors, many of them prominent leaders in astronomy. We have active Outreach programs for our NYC neighbors.There are 15-20 postdocs in Astronomy and Astrophysics at Columbia at present. Mentorship is a priority, with a faculty member specifically assigned to support the postdoc community. In a recent three years period, 13 postdocs from our program were hired into faculty positions. We would be delighted to welcome an LSSTC Catalyst Fellow to join us.

If you have questions, please contact us at