Graduate Opportunities


Compton Spectrometer and Imager

The Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI) project has an opening for a graduate student who is interested in working in the area of high-energy astrophysics. COSI is a wide field gamma-ray imager designed for studies of electron/positron annihilation emission, nuclear lines, and polarization of emission from compact objects and gamma-ray bursts. COSI uses a state-of-the-art germanium gamma-ray detection system. In October 2021, COSI was selected to be the next NASA Small Explorer astrophysics satellite mission.

COSI graduate students will have the opportunity to work on hardware projects, software development, and to gain expertise in the science topics that can be addressed with COSI’s all-sky gamma-ray survey. Software tasks include designing COSI’s data analysis pipeline and developing the next generation of analysis algorithms for gamma-ray astronomy. The available student tasks now (Summer 2022) or in the coming year include:

  • Hardware and electronics testing
  • Improving our Python-based ground support software system
  • Detector calibration and automated analysis
  • Improving the COSI detector effects engine (benchmarking simulations with detector calibrations)
  • Enhancing the data analysis pipeline with machine learning (event reconstruction, background identification, real-time transient localization, etc.)
  • Developing new analysis approaches for all-sky imaging, spectral, and polarization analysis

The specific selection of available tasks above will depend on the progress in the timeline of the project, and the student’s experience and preferences.

For more details about COSI, please see For more information, contact Dr. John Tomsick ( for general questions or Dr. Andreas Zoglauer ( for data analysis questions.

Particle Acceleration in the Plasma Universe

Our universe is filled with high-energy, accelerated particles (or particle radiation). The high-energy particles exist not only in extreme environments such as black holes and supernova remnants but also in our neighboring environments such as solar flares and Earth’s magnetosphere. However, it still remains unclear why and how those high-energy particles are produced. 

We seek students or postdocs who can join our team and study the origin and mechanism of particle acceleration in solar and space plasma environments. The successful candidate will engage in observational and/or theoretical (simulation) studies. Our team has recently worked on observational studies using, for example, MMS, RHESSI, THEMIS, and Parker Solar Probe as well as simulation studies using particle-in-cell (PIC) codes. Students or postdocs who are familiar with other types of observations and simulations are also welcomed.

If interested, please contact Dr. Mitsuo Oka for more details.


Gamma-Ray Imager/Polarimeter for Solar flares (GRIPS) mission

The Gamma-Ray Imager/Polarimeter for Solar flares (GRIPS) mission is a NASA-funded balloon-borne experiment that can do imaging spectro-polarimetry of solar flares in the ~20 keV to ~10 MeV range, with 12.5 arcseconds FWHM spatial resolution and few keV spectral resolution. It first flew out of Antarctica in January 2016, and we have just been selected for a second Antarctic flight!

The GRIPS team is actively looking for a motivated and dedicated graduate student to work on our payload. This is a four-year project, where the candidate will learn about space-rated hardware and their operations, go to Antarctica for the flight, and then do cutting-edge science with our germanium detector data (spectroscopy and image reconstruction).
While our first priority is to find somebody willing to take on spectrometer care and operations (including calibrations), there are many other areas where prospective students could gain valuable skills or knowledge:
detector electronics, power systems (including solar panels) and their regulation, various sensors and their data analysis (often in real-time), flight software, ground support software, communications, thermal engineering, etc.

If interested by a great PhD experience at the Space Sciences Laboratory, please visit and contact Dr. Pascal Saint-Hilaire for more details.