ZTF Summer School 2024

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We are delighted to announce that due to continued funding from the National Science Foundation and support from our partners at the University of Washington, Seattle, we will hold a fourth edition of the ZTF summer school. As in previous years, we continue with the same successful hybrid format, with both in-person and virtual attendance possible. We expect to accept up to 20 in-person and 40 online participants. The school will take place on Jul 29- Aug 2 and will be hosted by the University of Minnesota, USA.

This year's theme for the ZTF summer school is AI and machine learning in time-domain astronomy. The program will have a special focus on unsupervised and supervised learning, deep learning, simulation based inference and more. Best suited for graduate students and above, the school offers a week of hands-on training with Python Jupiter notebooks under the guidance of experts in the field. This year, we will wrap up with a special data challenge to apply the newly learned skills. Students will mainly work with astronomical data from the ZTF survey and other transient survey data.

Application & Funding


The venue and meals during the school will be covered by our NSF grant. Thanks to a Heising-Simons grant, we will be able to offer some financial support for lodging. If you want to be considered for it, please indicate so in the application form. Note that participants who want to attend in-person will have to cover their travel expenses.


The application deadline is now extended to June 15th (00:00 UTC).

We strongly encourage applications from candidates of all background, ethnicities, nationalities, genders, etc. We particularly welcome applicants from communities that are underrepresented in astronomy and STEM.

To apply for the school, you will need to fill a registration form and submit it along with:

  • A motivation letter outlining (1) your motivation to join the school, (2) your background and experience with astronomy research, and (3) how the school will benefit your future research work.
  • A recommendation letter from an adviser or otherwise someone who can speak to your experience and potential. You should provide the email address of your referee in the application form and we will contact them with instructions on how to submit their recommendation letters.
  • Complete a Python assignment. Download this zip file which contains both the assignment and the data file you need to complete it. When finished, upload a PDF file of your solution along with the rest of the material in your application.

We suggest that you prepare your documents first, then return here and click on the Submit an Application button below. Note that in order to upload files into the registration form, you will be asked to sign into your Google account.

Note that participants of any of the former ZTF summer schools are eligible and welcome to apply again.

Selected applicants will be invited in early June.



The theme for this year is machine learning and AI in time-domain astronomy. With hundreds of thousands of detections per day, the ability to filter and classify real transients in a reliable and automated fashion is critical to the advancement of astronomical science. You will learn how astronomers take full advantage of as well as drive innovation in machine learning and AI. We will demostrate and guide you through the first fully automated detection, classification and reporting of a transient achieved by our ZTF astronomers last year.

The school format includes short lectures and interactive hands-on sessions when students will work with Python Jupyter notebooks to complete data processing assignments under the guidance of tutors. The school will run approximately between 9 am and 4 pm CDT (UTC-5) each day. During that time, students who participate online will be able to submit questions to tutors via Slack. Students whose time zones make it inconvenient to join the school can work on their own. They are welcome to submit questions on Slack and our tutors will respond as soon as possible.

The final program for the school is currently in development and will be posted in June.


The school is hosted by our ZTF partner institution the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. The school sessions will take place on campus. Participants who are attending the school in person, can choose from a number of hotels located within walking distance to campus.


The lead organizer of the ZTF summer schools is Michael Coughlin at the University of Minnesota. He is assisted by members of the ZTF partnership.

  • Matthew Graham - ZTF Project Scientist (Caltech)
  • Ivona Kostadinova - ZTF Program Coordinator (Caltech)


If you have questions, please get in touch with us at ztf dot summer dot school @ gmail.com