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Australian Gemini Undergraduate Summer Studentships

Applications for the 2013/14 AGUSS program have now closed.
We will begin accepting applications for the 2014/15 program in early-August 2014.
Student Poster


The twin Gemini telescopes are the among the most powerful optical/infra-red telescopes in the world. Australia is a partner in these telescopes, together with the USA, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. Australian involvement in the Gemini Observatory is managed by the Australian Gemini Office, hosted by the Australian Astronomical Observatory. Funding for the Australian Gemini Undergraduate Summer Studentships (AGUSS) scheme is provided by Astronomy Australia Ltd. (AAL) through a grant from the Commonwealth government's Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme (CRIS).

We invite applications from Australian undergraduate students who would like to carry out a 10 week research project at the Gemini South observatory, located in the north of Chile. Students will carry out a project using the Gemini South telescope, under the supervision of Gemini Observatory staff. The Australian Gemini Office will pay the return airfare from Australia to the town of La Serena, Chile, and provide a stipend of ~A$700 per week (gross, plus superannuation). We will also provide travel/medical insurance for the duration of the Studentship.

Details of the Studentships

It is expected that two studentships will be offered for the summer of 2013/14. They will last for ten weeks, from early-December until mid-February. They are open to undergraduate students who are Australian citizens or permanent residents currently enrolled at an Australian university who have completed at least two years of an undergraduate degree in Physics, Maths, Astronomy or Engineering. AGUSS students will be temporarily appointed to the Australian Public Service and travel on an Official Passport, and must receive a security clearance.

In addition to carrying out a research project, the students may participate in a lecture course and social activities offered at Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory, jointly with a group of US and Chilean summer scholars. The students will spend a few nights each assisting with observations at the Gemini South telescope, and also visit the 6.5m Magellan telescopes at Las Campanas Observatory, on which Australian astronomers also have some observing time.

About Gemini South

The Gemini South telescope is located on the mountain of Cerro Pachon, in the Chilean Andes. The observatory is headquartered in the nearby city of La Serena. The observatory will arrange accomodation for the students, usually within the observatory compound. When accomodation within the compound is unavailable, Gemini South will secure suitable private accommodation nearby. In either case rent will be the student's responsibility, but typically costs less than US$500 per month.

How to Apply

Applications by e-mail are strongly preferred. Please send your application as a single Word or PDF document attachment to the AGUSS Program Supervisor, Dr Stuart Ryder (sdr -@- The application should include the following:

  • A curriculum vitae, including name and contact details, and your e-mail address.
  • A full listing of university courses taken, including a transcript of academic record (if your university supplies only hardcopy transcripts, please scan it and send us the JPEG or PDF file).
  • A one page statement on why you would like to get one of these studentships, describing your background, and including an insight into your longer term career goals, and interests in astronomy/astrophysics/instrumentation. What is it about the Gemini South observatory that particularly appeals to you?
  • You should ask two academics who are familiar with you to send us academic reference letters. E-mail to "sdr -@-" is fine. The names and contact details of these referees should be included in your CV. The reference letters must reach us before the application deadline.

The closing date for applicants is 30 August 2013. Late applications will not be considered.

Past recipients

Previous AGUSS recipients are listed here. Some have kindly provided a few words and pictures of their experiences, which you can view by clicking on their names.

AGUSS group
Here is a photo of some past AGUSS recipients assembled at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Astronomical Society of Australia held in July 2009 in Melbourne. Left to right are AGUSS Coordinator Dr Stuart Ryder, David Palamara, Richard Linossi, Jacinta Delhaize, Simon Murphy, and Peter Jensen. Photo courtesy of Jacinta Delhaize.
In January 2009, AGUSS students David Palamara (left of centre) and Sophie Underwood (right of centre) were joined by Australian Gemini Scientist Dr Stuart Ryder (far left) and Deputy Gemini Scientist Dr Christopher Onken (far right) for a live video link-up from the Gemini South headquarters in La Serena to the official launch of the International Year of Astronomy at Questacon in Canberra.

Other Astronomy Studentships in Australasia

AGUSS is an extremely competitive scheme - we typically receive 10 times more applications than there are studentships. For those who miss out, there are a number of similar programs operated by institutions throughout Australasia you may wish to consider, a separate list of which can be found here.


If you have any queries about the studentship scheme before applying, then please feel free to contact the program supervisor Stuart Ryder by e-mail (sdr -@-, or by phone at (02) 9372-4843.

Australian Gemini Office, ausgo -@-