The format of ISIMA is unique in the world. To find out more about us, please see our Program description, and read testimonies from past program participants


Program description  

The International Summer-Institute for Modeling in Astrophysics runs for 6 weeks (nearly) every summer in alternance between various institutions world-wide and UC Santa Cruz.

ISIMA hosts up to 15 established faculty, 15 post-doctoral researchers and 15 graduate students in addition to the local scientists. In Santa Cruz, ISIMA is associated with TASC (Theoretical Astrophysics at Santa Cruz), a multi-departmental research group of UCSC scientists from Applied Mathematics and Statistics, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Earth & Planetary Sciences and Physics.

ISIMA combines the concept of a long-term workshop with graduate student training through research projects. The six-week long program begins with a one-week workshop on the current ISIMA topic with morning introductory lectures by invited faculty and afternoon short contributed presentations. Informal discussions during lunch and designated sessions help design innovative research projects for the students.

In the five following weeks, the students are teamed with the senior participants and are expected to make significant progress on their selected project. During that time, the program hosts one seminar per day in the mornings, while the rest of the day is dedicated to research. The students are required to present their research project to all participants during the last two days of the program and are expected to publish the results, with their collaborators, either in the form of a refereed paper or a conference proceeding in the subsequent year.


Testimonies from participants

" The first ISIMA program offered both the junior and the senior scientists a fantastic opportunity to widen horizons beyond ones immediate field of work, meet and interact with fellow researchers and work in an attractive environment at UCSC. This is a rare and valuable initiative and I'm looking forward with great expectations to its continuation in the coming years. "

Pawel Artymowicz, Professor of Astrophysics, U. Toronto. ISIMA 2010 long-term participant.

" I consider the workshop, at least that part that I attended, to have been a great success. The students were very keen to choose and get working on their research projects, and after just two weeks (the first week was devoted entirely to lectures) many of them were already coming to some interesting original understanding. That was facilitated by the arrangements made by the LOC, for our wellbeing, through endless and apparently tireless work, to ensure that everyone was supplied with what they needed. Everyone seemed to be happy, which led to a the relaxed atmosphere needed for productive thought. There was a great deal of exciting development whilst I was there; I'm sure that it continued. I sincerely hope that this was but the first of a long series of similar successful events. "

Douglas Gough, Professor of Astrophysics, Institute of Astronomy, U. Cambridge. ISIMA 2010 principal lecturer.


"An intense, very productive learning experience for all involved."

James Stone, Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics, Princeton. ISIMA 2010 participant.


"The most stimulating and productive summer I have ever spent. I was surrounded by dozens of students and colleagues with like-minded scientific interests and excellent technical skills. Prior to ISIMA, I had a number of ideas I had been wanting to pursue, but was unable to for lack of time and manpower; ISIMA empowered me to take all of these ideas out for test drives. All workshops should be as well organized, as inspirational, and full of good honest work as this one."

Eugene Chiang, Professor of Astrophysics, UC Berkeley. ISIMA 2011 principal lecturer.


" ISIMA has really been an amazing experience for me! I cannot put into words how
grateful I am for this opportunity, not only to work on an interesting project, but
also to meet wonderful people who I think will also be my friends. What a great
place to organize it, too! Thank you!"

Eva Ntormousi, Graduate Student, ISIMA 2011.


"This year's vibrant ISIMA program on star and planet formation at the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (KIAA), Peking University was a great success. As KIAA's director, I am absolutely delighted to see how ISIMA has stimulated vitality in the rapidly emerging field and greatly enhanced the intellectual environment at our institute. The ideal balance between 1) promising students and experienced mentors, 2) theorists and observers with diverse technical expertise and research styles provided a perfect synergy. The open forum, the interdisciplinary approach, and multinational participants provided the necessary ingredients for global impacts for years to come.

Doug Lin, Professor of Astrophysics and Director of the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University


"Listening to the student talks, I was astounded by the quality and quantity of new
research results that came out of ISIMA. A unique program of great value in
mentoring the next generation of research leaders.

Andrew Cumming, Professor of Astrophysics, McGill. ISIMA 2011 long-term participant.


"Graduate school should be structured like this. I have never learned this much, this fast."

Anonymous exit survey comment, ISIMA 2011.


"Being part of ISIMA in Beijing was very rewarding. We were assigned randomly into shared offices, and having to socialize with my officemates led to two exciting collaborations at the end of the workshop. There were also so many lunches and dinners where people of similar interests shared ideas and opinions, allowing many of my existing thoughts to be crystallized and prioritized. Hugely beneficial.

Yanqin Wu, Professor of Astrophysics, U. of Toronto