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Cornell chosen to host planetary astronomy postdoc fellowship

Cornell is one of 14 U.S.-based institutions chosen to host the 51 Pegasi b Postdoctoral Fellowship in Planetary Astronomy. Supported by the Heising-Simons Foundation, the fellowship provides up to eight postdoctoral scientists per year up to $375,000 of support for independent research over three years.

The fellowship includes mentorship, an annual summit and the opportunity to conduct theoretical, observational and experimental research in planetary astronomy.

According to Nikole Lewis, assistant professor of astronomy, Cornell was chosen to host this fellowship because it is one of the few places in the U.S. that includes planetary science as part of the astronomy department.

“The intersection of planetary science and astronomy is our bread and butter; it’s the Cornell legacy,” she said. “Cornell is a leader in solar system research; projects that cross over between solar system and exoplanetary system science are common.”

More than two dozen researchers at Cornell are engaged in planetary astronomy and exoplanet science research, including both theory and observations. And the co-location of planetary science and astronomy fields in a single building has fostered interdisciplinary research spanning nearly a dozen space and ground-based facilities, in numerous disciplinary areas, such as exoplanet observations and instrument development. For example, the interdisciplinary Carl Sagan Institute is developing the forensic toolkit to find life in the universe, whether inside the solar system or beyond.

The Heising-Simons Foundation 51 Pegasi b Fellowship, established in 2017, is named for the first exoplanet discovered orbiting a sunlike star.

Applications for the 2020 fellowships will be accepted from July 15 at noon through Sept. 20 at 2:59 p.m. 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 diversification of the field – are particularly encouraged to apply.

Email Lewis for more information on the 51 Pegasi b Fellowship at Cornell.

Linda B. Glaser is a staff writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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