The Donald and Irene Osterbrock Fellowship

Graduate Fellowships for Future Leaders in Astronomy and Astrophysics

The Osterbrock Leadership Fellowship: A Unique PhD Training Experience

Do you aspire to be both scientist and leader? Do you feel prepared for the challenges of leading a big project, launching a new business, or even just leading your own research group? Do you know effective ways to influence both people and institutions to promote your goals?

Your astronomy PhD could take you in a thousand different directions. Academia is peppered with astronomers serving as deans, directors, provosts, and even presidents.  Astronomers are business persons, educators,government leaders, and even politicians. Even if you start out in research, you could wind up in a totally different sphere.  Wherever you go, you will want to be as effective and productive as possible.

Studying astronomy will teach you how to think clearly – you'd be surprised how rare that is!  But thinking is not enough. As a researcher,you may be called on to lead big projects with multi-million-dollar budgets. As an academician, you may be department chair.  Moving up or out of the field will require an even broader perspective. For all these things, you'll need to understand people and organizations, how to motivate and inspire, and how to manage complex endeavors. This constellation of additional skills and understanding is rarely featured in normal PhD training.

Unique opportunities for Osterbrock Leadership Fellows

The Osterbrock Leadership Fellows program offers membership in a unique leadership training program at UCSC. Each Fellow will be teamed with one or more senior mentors from science, business, industry, and other walks of life who are supporters and collaborators of the UCSC Astronomy department. These relationships form the core of an enriched training experience that includes special programs, internships, and activities outside the Astronomy department planned with the advice and support of the mentors. Ten to twelve Fellows will be in residence at UCSC at any one time, large enough to provide a mutual support group of like-minded students who can learn and work together.  Each fellowship carries a one-time cash premium of $5,000 in addition to regular graduate support.

A Tribute to Don and Irene Osterbrock

The Osterbrock Fellowships are established in honor of eminent American astronomer Donald E. Osterbrock and his wife Irene. Don Osterbrock pioneered the study of gaseous nebulae and originated the classification scheme for active galactic nuclei. He was one of Lick Observatory's most influential directors. Don was a gifted teacher, and the doctoral students he advised comprise a significant portion of America's astronomical leadership. His wife, Irene, worked tirelessly to help establish the UCSC Library's Mary Lea Shane Archives of the Lick Observatory as a world-renowned repository of U.S. astronomical history.

Criteria and Selection Process

All applicants to the UCSC Astronomy PhD program are are automatically eligible to be considered for the Osterbrock.  We seek students with extraordinary leadership potential in addition to traditional academic prowess. Selection will be based on evidence of extraordinary personal qualities in addition to grades, GRE scores, and previous research accomplishments. Students who would like to be considered will submit a personal statement describing how the award of an Osterbrock Fellowship would enhance their future life plans. As a final step, all applicants and their advisors may be separately interviewed in person by the selection committee. In addition to entering graduate students, members of the First Year Astronomy cohort at UCSC are also eligible to be considered by submitting a personal statement and three references. Up to two fellowships per year will be offered, depending on the quality of the applicants.