Thirty Meter Telescope

Astronomy's next generation observatory.

About TMT

International Science Development Teams

Membership Application (due 16 January 2015)

In 2013, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) instituted International Science Development Teams (ISDTs). The ISDTs foster scientific collaboration across the TMT partnership and beyond, into the broader astronomical community. They provide scientific input and feedback to the TMT project, stimulate scientific planning for future observing programs using TMT, and help build connections between TMT and the international astronomical community. There are currently eight ISDTs, each focused on a different scientific topic, as listed below.

ISDT membership is open to all qualified Ph.D. scientists, both from the current TMT partners and associates, and from the astronomical community at large.

Goals of the ISDTs:

  • Help to define the observatory capabilities and operations to maximize its scientific output.
  • Broaden the base of scientists actively engaged in the TMT project, including, e.g., observers, theorists, high-energy physicists.
  • Build science-driven collaborations across the partnership.
  • Demonstrate the full potential of TMT in key science areas cutting across instrumentation boundaries.
  • Increase visibility of the TMT science by producing white papers and organizing workshops.

Examples of activities of the ISDTs:

  • Update, expand and maintain the TMT Detailed Science Case document.
  • Write white papers (e.g., defining possible TMT key programs) that will inform decisions on operations issues, such as time allocation procedures and data management.
  • Work with the instrument science teams, e.g., providing input on science requirements for the instrument designs, or to simulate TMT instrument capabilities.
  • Model theoretical predictions that can guide scientific and instrumentation planning.
  • Identify ancillary data and precursor datasets needed to prepare for TMT observations.
  • Identify tasks that need to be done and items that need to be in place before first light at the observatory, instrumentation, and software level.
  • Exercise data-reduction pipelines early.
  • Advertise TMT science; sponsor education and public outreach programs.
  • Advise on future instrumentation by connecting with instrument working groups.

Benefits from joining the ISDTs:

  • Meet potential collaborators throughout the TMT partnership community.
  • Become better informed about TMT. Be ready to write successful proposals and make the best use of TMT at first light.
  • Ground-floor membership in large-project consortia.
  • Membership may help secure support from funding agencies.
  • The registration fee to the TMT Science Forum is waived for ISDT members.

Membership of the ISDTs does not imply access to telescope time nor to funding from the TMT project.

Organization of the ISDTs:

  • 8 ISDTs (see list below) were established in 2013, each with two conveners and a small number of initial members. The first call for new members was issued in late 2013, and new members were admitted in early 2014.
  • ISDT conveners are selected by the TMT SAC.
  • The ISDTs are self-organized. Each ISDT will set its own detailed goals and timeline in accordance with the guidelines of the SAC.
  • Calls for new members will be issued every year. The SAC approves membership applications based on the recommendations of a panel consisting of all the ISDTs conveners.
  • Membership requires real work. Applicants will need to clearly and credibly identify the time and resource commitments to the working group. Membership of multiple ISDTs is allowed, provided enough time and resources are available.
  • Membership is annual. Members who wish to continue their participation to the ISDTs will have to submit a renewal request to the conveners. The sole criterion for renewal is active participation. Current members do not need to re-apply. Instruction for membership renewal will be circulated to current members by the conveners.
  • Membership is open to Ph.D. scientists anywhere, including faculty, staff, and postdocs. Members can nominate their graduate students as affiliate members.

Proposing new ISDTs

Beginning with this call for membership, proposals for new ISDT working groups can also be submitted. New ISDTs may focus on science that does not fit well within the scope of the existing ISDTs, or may focus on subtopics drawn from one or more existing ISDTs that merit additional emphasis within TMT planning.

  • Proposals for new ISDTs may be submitted by current ISDT members or by astronomers who are not currently members of an ISDT.
  • Proposals should provide a name for the new ISDT, a discussion of its scientific scope, and a clear rationale for forming a new group.
  • Proposals should include the names of at least five scientists who would become members of the new ISDT. These may be members of existing ISDTs, or new members not currently participating in another ISDT. Proposing astronomers who are not currently ISDT members should submit individual applications for membership as well. Scientists who are already ISDT members are not required to submit new, individual applications.
  • It is strongly encouraged that the new ISDT should include members from two or more TMT partners and associates.
  • If a new ISDT is approved by the SAC, it will be advertised among the existing ISDT membership community, and there will be an opportunity for interested ISDT members to join the new group.
  • The conveners of a new ISDT will be appointed by the SAC.

ISDT topics and conveners:

A list of initial science working groups and conveners is given below. Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact the ISDT conveners to learn more about the ISDTs and their activities.


Application Process (deadline 16 January 2015)

Application for individual membership in an ISDT should include the following parts:

  • Title and abstract (<200 words)
  • Which ISDT do you wish to join?
  • Describe your scientific interests and your qualifications for participating in the ISDT.
  • Describe the scientific goals of your participation, and activities that you might carry out in support of the TMT effort. For example, might you carry out simulations? Write forecasting papers? Contribute to the TMT Detailed Science Case? Develop tools to help with TMT planning, observing, or data analysis? Engage with instrument teams? Gather and work on ancillary datasets? Form new scientific collaborations?
  • Provide a quantitative estimate of the level of effort you can dedicate to the ISDT, and describe available resources that can support your effort.
  • A short curriculum vitae.

The length of the application is limited to 2000 words for items 3-5 above, and no more than 1 page for figures, plus 2 pages maximum of curriculum vitae. There is no application form or template; please format your materials as a single PDF file.

Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Expertise in the relevant areas of astronomy.
  • Commitment to carry out work in support of the ISDT’s goals.
  • Contribution to the overall TMT project.

Proposals to create a new ISDTs should include the following parts:

  • A proposed name for the new ISDT.
  • A discussion of the scientific scope for the new ISDT.
  • A clear rationale for forming a new group.
  • The names of at least five scientists who would become members of the new ISDT. It is strongly encouraged that the new ISDT should include members from two or more TMT partners and associates.

There is no strict length limit for a proposal for a new ISDT, but a recommended guideline is up to 2000 words for items 2 and 3 above, with 1 or 2 pages of figures. Proposing astronomers who are not currently ISDT members should submit individual membership applications, as described above. Scientists who are already ISDT members are not required to submit new, individual applications.

Please send applications to isdt@tmt.org by 16 January 2015.