Predoctoral Requirements

Progress Report at Lowell Observatory

Once a year, predocs will present a 30-minute talk to the Lowell staff detailing research progress to date. Afterwards a committee composed of L. Prato, W. Grundy, and other predoc advisors will discuss the presentation with the student. The goals of this process are to (1) assist students in maintaining consistent progress towards the thesis completion, (2) provide a friendly forum for students to develop presentation skills, and (3) to enrich Lowell's research environment.

Co-advisor at Home Institution

We require that students identify a co-advisor at their university to maintain formal communication between the insitutions and to verify that the university research requirements are being fulfilled.

Progress Report at Home Institution

Once a year, within 2-3 months of the start date at Lowell and following the progress report at Lowell, predoc students will present a progress report at their home institution. This might take the form of a thesis proposal defense and will ideally be an in-person talk to the student's university thesis committee and advisor. In the case of international students submission of a written report and a discussion with the home institution thesis committee and advisor via a free service such as Skype or iChat is acceptable. A copy of any written report provided to the home institution should also be given to the student's Lowell advisor. The Lowell advisor and home institution advisor will discuss the student's progress and provide any necessary constructive feedback.

Ph.D. Final Exam at Home Institution

When the thesis research is complete, predoc students must return to their home institution to fulfill their university's requirements for the Ph.D., usually in the form of a defense presentation to the home institution thesis committee and advisor. Students are expected to present the same talk as an informal talk at Lowell prior to the defense at the home institution. The Lowell advisor will attend the thesis defense at the home institution when possible.

Predoc Expectations

(1) Journal Club talks: Twice a year predoc students are expected to give a 15-minute talk at the Science Tea on a refereed journal paper of the student's choice. The purpose is to provide practice giving talks. Every effort will be made to provide constructive comments and suggestions to the student following the talk. (2) Science Tea: Every two weeks science staff meet to discuss their research as well as recent results from the literature. Bagels, tea, and coffee are provided. The predocs cooperatively organize this event; all students are expected to attend, to actively participate, and to take turns setting up refreshments and sending out e-mails to the staff (the more senior students will initially assist newly arrived students in learning what is involved). (3) Lowell Colloquia: Two to three colloquia are typically hosted at Lowell, and occasionally at Northern Arizona University and at the U.S. Naval Observatory, each month. Predoc students are expected to attend. Attendance at Lowell-hosted colloquium lunches is free for students. (4) Final colloquium: Prior to leaving Lowell Observatory, predoc students are expected to give a formal Lowell colloquium.


Program Overview
Program Requirements
Research Projects
About Lowell


You'll be based at Lowell's historic campus, one mile west of downtown Flagstaff at an elevation of 7,200'.


Predoctoral students have full access to the observing facilities at our dark-sky sites at Anderson Mesa and Happy Jack, southeast of Flagstaff.


Research programs at Lowell introduce students to cutting-edge collaborations with international teams.


The Flagstaff area provides a vast array of opportunities for outdoor activities, from mountain biking to skiing to horsebackriding.