We are pleased to announce the 2023 recipients of the 51 Pegasi b Fellowship. The eight postdoctoral fellows were selected based on their outstanding research achievements, innovative research plans, and potential to impact the field of planetary astronomy. Their research interests include planet formation, observations and modeling of planetary atmospheres, astrobiology, and astronomical instrumentation. Fellows were also selected based on their commitment to, and plans for, advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in planetary astronomy.
To date, the Foundation has named 50 of these fellows. This year’s fellows join a worldwide 51 Pegasi b community that meets and communicates frequently to share research progress, discuss the latest ideas, findings, and developments in the field, and to support each other in professional development.
Launched by the Heising-Simons Foundation in 2017, the 51 Pegasi b Fellowship provides exceptional early-career scientists with the resources, freedom, and flexibility to conduct theoretical, observational, and experimental research in planetary astronomy. Each recipient will receive an initial three-year grant of up to $415,000 to pursue their proposed research at their selected host institution.
We extend our warmest congratulations to this year’s fellowship recipients and look forward to their continued contributions to the field of planetary astronomy.
Juliana García-Mejía, Ph.D. Candidate, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Harvard University, will start her 51 Pegasi b Fellowship in September at MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. Professor Andrew Vanderburg will be Juliana’s faculty mentor.
During her fellowship, Juliana will use Tierras to find Earth-like planets around M-dwarf stars, undertake a systematic search for moons and rings around exoplanets, and study the stars themselves to understand their impact on the planets they host. In tandem with this work, Juliana will design a next-generation, high-resolution instrument with the goal of one day enabling oxygen detection in exoplanet atmospheres. Her research will bolster the census of newfound worlds—prime targets for the James Webb Space Telescope to probe for signs of habitability. Juliana will receive a Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from Harvard University in Spring 2023.