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.

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.

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.

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.

The fellowship supports research that broadly fits within the field of planetary astronomy. Planetary scientists who study the surfaces, atmospheres, and interiors of the planets, moons, and small bodies in our solar system with telescopes, spacecraft, or models, are welcome to apply. Planetary astronomers who study exoplanets, planet formation and evolution, protoplanetary disks, or other closely related topics such as brown dwarfs are also welcome to apply.

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.

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.

The Foundation anticipates awarding up to eight fellowships each year.

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.