The 51 Pegasi b Fellowship provides exceptional postdoctoral scientists with the opportunity to conduct theoretical, observational, and experimental research in planetary astronomy.

Established in 2017, the Heising-Simons Foundation 51 Pegasi b Fellowship is named for the first exoplanet discovered orbiting a Sun-like star. The growing field of planetary astronomy studies objects both within and beyond our solar system, bridging planetary science and astronomy. From improving our understanding of planetary system formation and evolution, to advancing new technologies for detecting other worlds, 51 Pegasi b Fellows make a unique contribution to the field.

We will begin accepting applications for the 2021-2022 Fellowship cycle from July 1, 2021 through October 1, 2021 (11:59PM East Coast Time).




Doctoral Student Ellen Price Awarded 51 Pegasi B Fellowship
Harvard & Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics  March 31, 2021

Ashley Baker awarded a 51 Pegasi b Fellowship
Penn Arts and Sciences Department of Physics and Astronomy  March 31, 2020

Caltech | Award Announcements
Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences  March 27, 2020

A sign that aliens could stink
MIT News  December 18, 2019

Exeter scientist secures major international fellowship
University of Exeter  March 28, 2019

2019 Class of 51 Pegasi b Fellows Announced
UC Berkeley Department of Astronomy March 27, 2019

Lighting up exoplanets
MIT News  March 27, 2019

Update on the Search for Planets with TESS
Research highlights from the journals of the American Society  February 1, 2019

News: 51 Pegasi b Fellow, Elizabeth Bailey

UH alumna selected for prestigious planetary science fellowship
University of Hawaiʻi News  March 31, 2020

Early-career scientist awarded fellowship to study the heritage of meteorites
UCLA Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences News March 31, 2020

Postdoctoral fellowship supports planetary science research
UC Santa Cruz NEWSCENTER March 26, 2020

Breaking New Ground in Exoplanet Imaging
Caltech  March 27, 2019

Young planet hunters receive Pegasi b fellowships
Berkeley News  February 1, 2018


Why did you create the 51 Pegasi b Fellowship?

Planetary astronomy is a growing field attracting many creative, talented scientists. By supporting postdoctoral researchers, we hope to enhance and accelerate scientific progress in this field — including the discovery of exoplanets, the characterization of exoplanets in habitable zones, and the understanding of our solar system’s formation and evolution.

What do you hope to achieve through the fellowship program?

We hope to create a community among these talented fellows, enabling them to exchange and elevate ideas, gain access to other senior leaders in the field, and advance their careers.

Who is eligible to apply?

Applicants can come from any academic institution or research lab, both nationally and internationally. Applicants are not required to have US citizenship; however, all visa and work permit paperwork is the responsibility of the fellow and host institution. Applicants must have received a doctoral degree in astronomy, physics, earth and planetary sciences, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, or a related discipline. Doctoral degrees must be awarded by the time the fellow commences their fellowship appointment.

The Heising-Simons Foundation is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Thus, we particularly welcome applications from individuals who belong to groups that have been historically underrepresented in planetary sciences and astronomy, such as women, persons with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, gender and sexual minorities, and others who may contribute to the diversification of the field.

How can I apply for the fellowship?

An online application form must be completed if you wish to be considered for the fellowship. Guidelines and the online application form can be found here.

Do the fellowships support research related only to exoplanets, or is more general planetary astronomy research permitted?

The fellowship supports research that broadly fits within the field of planetary astronomy, which also includes general solar system formation and evolution, and planetary atmospheres.

What is the application review criteria?

Applications are evaluated based on six equally-weighted criteria: research significance to the field; research innovation; research approach; applicant qualification; suitability of host institution; and a diversity, equity, and inclusion statement. For more information about these criteria, please visit the application FAQ.

Completed applications are reviewed by the selected host institutions, an expert review panel, and the Foundation’s Science program staff using the review criteria and a scoring rubric.

When are decisions made?

Recipients of the fellowship will be notified in January through February. The corresponding department chair and faculty sponsor for each fellow are also personally notified.

How many fellowships will you award this year?

The Foundation anticipates awarding up to eight fellowships each year.

Does the Foundation make other grants or support other programs in astronomy?

Yes, the Foundation’s Science program funds general astronomy to enhance and accelerate new scientific discoveries that illuminate basic understanding of the universe and its celestial objects and processes. This includes grants that support the development of instruments that enhance research.

More Information

The 51 Pegasi b Fellowship provides:

  • Up to $385,000 of support for independent research over three years.
  • Time and space to establish distinction and leadership in the field.
  • Mentorship by an established faculty member at the host institution.
  • An annual summit to develop professional networks, exchange information and ideas, and foster collaboration.
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