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Post: Eight Early-Career Scientists Awarded 51 Pegasi b Fellowship

The Heising-Simons Foundation is pleased to announce this year’s 51 Pegasi b Fellowship(link) recipients. The eight early-career scientists were selected based on their outstanding research achievements, innovative research plans, and potential to impact the field of planetary astronomy. 

Fellow: Michael Zhang, Ph.D.

Inspired by the mysterious environments of distant worlds since a young age, Michael Zhang strives to uncover clues about their complex inner workings. Using the W.M. Keck Observatory telescopes and the Hubble Space Telescope, he observes mini Neptunes—smaller, denser versions of Neptune that are two to four times the size of Earth. Michael spotted two… Continue Reading

Fellow: J.J. Zanazzi, Ph.D.

J.J. Zanazzi experienced his first foray into planetary science as a high school student, pairing up with an astronomer to search for exoplanets with a remote-controlled telescope. Today, J.J. proposes theories on the astrophysical processes that shape planet-forming environments. In particular, he is intrigued by distortions in protoplanetary disks—the birthplaces of planets. J.J. calculates and… Continue Reading

Fellow: Shreyas Vissapragada, Ph.D.

From his inaugural run at Palomar Observatory to leading the launch of a unique observing mode on its telescopes, Shreyas Vissapragada has forged new pathways in exoplanet research to determine the ways planets live out their lives. Shreyas applies an innovative method called ultranarrowband photometry to examine exoplanets by taking highly precise measurements of helium… Continue Reading

Fellow: Eva Scheller, Ph.D.

Eva Scheller’s inspiration to probe the enigmatic past of water on Mars ignited during a California Institute of Technology exchange program. Bridging the worlds of laboratory experimentation, remote data science, and theory, Eva examines the history of geological processes on terrestrial planets to decipher markers of habitability. In a breakthrough moment, she confirmed that most… Continue Reading

Fellow: Malena Rice, Ph.D.

Throughout a career that has traversed Spain, Iceland, and the Great Barrier Reef, Malena Rice has focused her sights on the faraway, unexplored corners of our solar system. She applies theory, observation, and computational techniques in her investigations of the outer solar system and its vast potential for astronomical discovery—including Planet Nine, an icy world… Continue Reading

Fellow: Brittany Miles, Ph.D. candidate

For Brittany Miles, her work is most meaningful when she collaborates with others to shed light on profound challenges. Brittany’s expertise lies in mid-infrared observations of brown dwarfs—astronomical objects that share properties with both planets and stars. By placing unique constraints on the atmospheric structures of these cold objects, she provides a template for predicting… Continue Reading

Fellow: Leonardo Krapp, Ph.D.

Leonardo Krapp was first compelled to pursue planet formation research upon seeing an astonishing image: a distant and diverse planet-incubating environment captured by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope. As a computational astrophysicist, Leonardo reproduces the conditions where exoplanets are born using complex 3D models. These simulations of the entire protoplanetary disk zoom in… Continue Reading

Fellow: Paul Dalba, Ph.D.

Paul Dalba has felt that planetary astronomy offers the perfect balance of familiarity and imagination, from the time he peered through a telescope in his youth to viewing freshly captured images from the Cassini spacecraft at NASA. Paul works at the overlap of theory and observation to discover the unknown in his niche: exoplanets akin… Continue Reading