Skip to main content

"I would say that my SAO-UMass/LIP internship was definitely beneficial. The skills I learned at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center were the most important skills I gained period - from any class or internship."

Nicholas Baeza Hochmuth, SAO-UMass/Latino Initiative Program

SAO-UMass Latino Initiative Interns
Three of the SAO-UMass Latino Initiative Students in 2019.

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory - University of Massachusetts/Latino Initiatives Program (SAO-UMass/LIP) is an internship program for talented undergraduate science majors who participate in the Urban Massachusetts Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (UMLSAMP) Programs located on the campuses of the University of Massachusetts.


Partnering with the University of Massachusetts (UMass), the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) provides summer  internships to 6 students within the consortium annually. With generous support from the National Museum of the American Latino and the National Science Foundation, the Program sponsors seminars and outreach activities that raise awareness about the journeys, accomplishments, and ambitions of Latinos and other underrepresented communities within physics and astronomy. SAO-UMass/LIP has welcomed undergraduate majors in physics, computer science, chemistry, biology, and engineering, which is reflective of the ever-increasing interdisciplinary nature of science.

This program received federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the National Museum of the American Latino.

NFS Logo  This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1745460. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. 



The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory-UMass/Latino Initiative Program (SAO-UMass/LIP) is open to current undergraduate science majors in the Urban Massachusetts Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program. Preference is given to students in their sophomore and junior years as students may be invited to continue on a project at the conclusion of their internship. Additionally, internship assignments require preliminary coursework or skill requirements common to undergraduate students in their second or third year of study.


Students will be notified directly by the SAO Fellowship Program Coordinator about their acceptance into the internship program. This notification will be provided in April or earlier.

Length of Appointment

SAO-UMass/LIP is a 3-month summer internship program that starts in June and ends in August.  Some students will be invited to present at the American Astrophysical Society Conference; however, they may also present at the Annual Americans in Science (SACNAS) Conference in mid to late November. Students are expected to spend 35 hours a week at the Center for Astrophysics during the summer months.


Funding for your stipend--as well as your conference and travel fees--will be funded through the National Museum of the American Latino. Please direct any questions about these expenses to the SAO Fellowship Program Coordinator.


Students should plan to spend 35 hours during the week on their internship in the summer. 

In the summer months, students are required to participate in a weekly Python Session. Additionally, students will participate in a panel discussion that centers around issues related to greater inclusion in physics and astronomy among students from underrepresented minority communities.

Finally, students are required to present their research in a poster session to the Observatory community in the Courtyard in anticipation of a possible conference presentation in the near future.


Deadline for Applications: March 15, 2023 

Online admissions materials and reference contact information are due before the deadline.

The first time you go to the link below you will need to register for a login password. When you see the Login page, click on the "Update Account" button. This will take you to a form where you will create your account. Make sure that you remember your password so that you can return to the same application to finish your application, or to make changes.

The online application can be found at:


Application Instructions & Required Materials

Complete the following sections of the online application:

  • User Information Section

  • Personal Information Section

  • University Information Section

  • List of 2 references

  • Brief Personal Statement

Upload these files in PDF or Text Format:

  • Resume

  • Copy of Transcript


How do I apply?

UMass students who are members of LSAMP may apply to this partnership program. UMass students who are eligible to become members of UMass LSAMP programs, may reach out to UMass Lowell Academic Adviser, Ms. Reaksmey Roeung-Meas (Reaksmey, or 978-934-2458 about how/why of becoming a member of LSAMP. Worcester State University (WSU) students may reach out to Dr. Ian Stephens with any eligibility questions. The online application for UMass and WSU students is open until March 15, 2023.

I am an international student, can I apply?

No, international students are not eligible to be UMSAMP scholars. Students must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

How do I register online?

Go to the Application Login page. Select "Update Account" then "Register". On the Registration page, enter your full email address and a password of your choice. Repeat the password for verification and select "Register Now." Your application is considered complete when you use the "Application Complete" button. You can update information until the application deadline even after marking your application as complete.

When is the deadline?

The deadline is March 15, 2023.

What format is required for uploading files?

Files should be in pdf format. If this is not possible, postscript or plain text is acceptable.

Can I edit my application online?

Yes, you can access the application as many times as you want until the deadline. After entering the new information, click on the "Save" button. You can enter more information or edit existing information each time. You can upload new files to replace existing ones until the deadline.

If my password does not work, what should I do?

On the "Fellowship Application: Login" page select "Reset Password" and a new password will be emailed to you if you have already successfully registered.

How will I know if all my application materials have been received?

After logging in to the application, select "View Application Status" to check what remains incomplete in your application. In addition, when viewing your application online, you can check previously uploaded files by clicking on the numbered button provided.

What should I do if I notice an error in my application after I submit it?

Until the deadline, you can access the application to make corrections, including uploading new versions of the pdf files.

What if I decide to withdraw my application?

If you want to withdraw your application, send an email to stating your full name and which fellowship application you wish to withdraw.

What if I have other questions?

Please send an email inquiry to us at

How do I get notified of my acceptance into the Program?

The Fellowship Coordinator at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), will contact you to set up an interview with a potential adviser after your application materials have been reviewed. She will notify you by email of your acceptance after your interview(s) by Zoom with her and potential adviser(s).

How many hours a week do I spend as an intern at the Observatory?

Students work 35 hours during the summer from the first week of June until the second week of August. You work out the days and hours of your weekly schedule with your SAO Adviser. There is flexibility with your schedule but it must be approved by your research adviser.

What are the requirements?

Besides your weekly research hours, you are required to participate in two outreach projects including a center-wide poster session and a visit to the Cambridge Mayor's Summer Youth Program. Additionally, you will be required to participate in an intensive programming course during your first week of orientation. Interns also participate in a weekly Python course and Professional Development workshop. Other requirements include: Weekly Meeting with a Peer Mentor and a Weekly Report of research activities to the Program Director.

Can I get course credit?

Yes, but you must work out the details with UMass ahead of your internship. Some interns have used their internship as a capstone project.

How do I get paid?

Interns get paid a stipend of $6,000 for the summer. They receive a stipend payment of $2,000 for June, July, and August.

Do I have the opportunity to present my research?

Yes, at the end of your summer research experience, generally in the second week of August you will have the opportunity to present your research poster. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to present your poster at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) or at another conference dependent on your interests and at the recommendation of your research adviser.

Can I stay beyond my summer internship?

Yes, UMass students have been invited to stay longer as a research intern during the academic year. This depends on the quality of your work and the availability of funding from either your research advisor or UMLSAMP Program Office.


SAO Fellowship Program Coordinator

The SAO-UMass/LIP program gave me an internship opportunity which then turned into a full-time position at the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics as a Physical Scientist. I never imagined that the SAO-UMass/LIP program would be one of the single most important stepping stones towards my professional career development, but if it had not been for the program, then I would not be where I am today.
- Frances Skinner, 2020 NSF/SAO-UMass Latino Initiative Intern