Benjamin L. Schmitt
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Harvard University; Former European Energy Security Advisor, U.S. Department of State
Benjamin Schmitt is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Project Development Scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). At Harvard-CfA, Benjamin has focused on the technical project management and development of instrumentation to support next-generation millimeter-wavelength imaging technologies and telescope platforms focused on the precision measurement of the polarized Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), which will be fielded at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, including the BICEP Array experiment. BICEP Array is set for initial deployment to Antarctica later this year. Schmitt is also involved in project development of the small aperture telescope program within the CMB-Stage 4 initiative. CMB-Stage 4 will lead a worldwide effort to probe the CMB temperature and polarization with unprecedented sensitivity.
Prior to his current position at Harvard, from 2015-2019 Benjamin served as European Energy Security Advisor in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources, where he also has served as the IEEE Department of State Science and Technology Policy Fellow. In his role at the State Department, Schmitt focused on European energy security and diplomacy engagement across the Eurasian region, to develop and implement novel policy strategy for the advancement of joint U.S. and EU shared priorities at the intersection of energy security, national security, and geopolitics, while directly advising senior officials from the White House, State Department, and Department of Energy, among others across the U.S. Government. Schmitt has provided expert European energy security commentary for both print and television media, including Germany’s Bild Zeitung, Voice of America, and Polygraph, and has been a guest on CEPA’s Power Vertical podcast. Benjamin is also the 2019 Amicus Poloniae Award laureate, a recognition by the Government of the Republic of Poland for outstanding efforts to promote development of cooperation between the Republic of Poland and the United States of America, and has received both Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards from the U.S. Department of State.
Before entering government, Schmitt served as a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow while pursuing doctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania, focusing on direct imaging of the CMB, for which he received both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Penn. While at Penn, Benjamin’s graduate research primarily concentrated on the development of novel millimeter-wavelength imaging technologies framed through the design and integration of ACTPol, a polarization-sensitive receiver upgrade for the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, located at over 5,190 meters in elevation on an extinct stratovolcano in Chile’s Atacama Desert, where Schmitt helped lead field deployment operations over a several-year period. Benjamin’s ACTPol research was also supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program award. An accomplished opera singer, Schmitt has also previously served as a U.S. Fulbright Research Fellow to the Max-Planck-Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany, and before that served as an X-Ray Diagnostics Researcher focusing on inertial confinement fusion research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Laboratory of Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Astronomy, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Modern German Languages and Cultures, and Mathematics. Benjamin currently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.