Figures in the Sky Initiative – Research Intern

Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian

Job Type: Fixed-Term

Type: LHT (Less than Half Time)≤14hrs/week
Duration: 6 months
Location: This position is open to all US residents and has the option of being fully remote
Salary: $21.00/hr

What is the ‘Figures in the Sky’ Initiative?

The Figures in the Sky Initiative is an endeavor by the Wolbach Library to elevate the voices of Black and Indigenous peoples and their astronomical heritage in order to “normalize” their inclusion and undercut white supremacy in astronomy. To this end, the Initiative aims to connect people with resources to help them understand and appreciate different astronomical cultures, as well as meaningfully engage in conversations about how colonialism and racism have been, and continue to be, facets of astronomical pursuits. To begin this important work, our team will focus on presenting and contextualizing asterisms from Native American and Native Hawai’ian traditions, as well as the African diaspora. By focusing on indigenous astronomical traditions, we aim to both implicitly highlight the colonial heritage of astronomical observatories and the land they occupy, while empowering, not diminishing, Indigenous peoples and their cultures.

Position Summary

The Figures in the Sky Project intern will contribute meaningfully to project development by addressing questions imperative to the initiative’s success and beginning the research required to identify, curate, and begin to create the open resources needed to facilitate learning. Throughout this internship, the FitSI intern will work with the Historian-in-Residence to determine the scope of the project- identifying/creating resources, synthesizing information for an interdisciplinary audience, and assist in planning further grant goals in addition to traditional historical research.

Essential Responsibilities

  • Supports research to inform decisions about the scope and execution of ethno-astronomical work that broadens the astronomy community’s exposure to marginalized cultures with a particular focus on our institution’s history of imperialism and the astronomical traditions of indigenous peoples, such as Native Americans, Native Hawai’ians, and astronomy of the African diaspora.
  • Contributes written material on the history of relevant topics such as colonization, race, and white supremacy in astronomy. Examples may include:
    • Blogs summarizing work and proposed next steps for the creation of a public blog

    • Bibliographies, syllabi, or reading lists existing resources on indigenous and global astronomical cultures

    • Accounts of cultures’ history and select descriptions of relevant material.

Required Qualifications

  • Applicant must either be enrolled as a graduate student in history, sociology, or closely related field
  • Demonstrated experience using historical and ethnological research methods.

  • Experience both contributing to team projects and working independently.

  • Evidence of analytical, organizational, communication, project, and time management skills.

  • Demonstrated ability to set priorities, meet deadlines, and complete tasks and projects on time.

  • Strong teamwork skills and a commitment to promoting a collaborative environment of trust, inclusion, and transparency.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Familiarity with astronomy and its adjacent fields.
  • Familiarity working with and conducting oral histories and/or research interviews

  • Experience with interdisciplinary communication and the ability to present to a scientific audience.

  • Experience working remotely with a multidisciplinary team

To Apply:

The applicant must submit a complete application including a proposal that will guide the fellow’s research during the term. Completed applications must include:

  • A cover letter describing your relevant experience and qualifications for this position
  • Current resume/CV detailing education and relevant experience; and
  • List including names, email addresses, and phone numbers of three professional references

To apply, please email your application materials to Giancarlo Romeo at
Review of applications will begin on 05/17/2021 and continue until the position is filled.

Harvard University is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Posted: May 16, 2021