Scholar wins NASA Fellowship

  • April 1, 2021
Scholar wins NASA Fellowship

Luis Welbanks wins prestigious NASA Fellowship to study exoplanet atmospheric properties

These outstanding young scientists are the future of astrophysics, and their impact on our understanding of the cosmos will be felt for decades to come.

Paul Hertz, NASA

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has won a prestigious NASA Fellowship to continue his studies on exoplanets.

Luis Welbanks has been awarded a NASA Hubble Fellowship and will begin his programme in the autumn at Arizona State University.

The Fellowship programme “enables outstanding postdoctoral scientists to pursue independent research in any area of NASA Astrophysics, using theory, observation, experimentation, or instrument development”. Over 400 applicants competed for the fellowships, which provide up to three years’ financial support, and only 24 were successful.

The programme is split into three parts and Luis will be one of seven Sagan Fellows focused on the ‘Are we alone?’ theme.

Paul Hertz, Director of Astrophysics at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said: “The annual selection of NASA Hubble Fellows always fills me with hope. These outstanding young scientists are the future of astrophysics, and their impact on our understanding of the cosmos will be felt for decades to come.”

Luis [2017], who is from Mexico, is doing a PhD at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge. His research has focused on deciphering the atmospheric composition of exoplanets – planets outside the solar system – by interpreting spectroscopic observations taken with ground- and space-based facilities.

As a Sagan Fellow, he will focus on developing next-generation inference frameworks, known as retrievals, to maximise the information derived from transmission spectra of exoplanets in a physically plausible way.

Luis will use a combination of theoretical models and upcoming spectroscopic observations to enable high-definition exo-atmospheric characterisation with transit spectroscopy. The aim is to provide a data-driven understanding of the model considerations needed to provide rigorous and credible estimates of exoplanet atmospheric properties.

Latest News

Exploring the neural bases of consciousness

New insights into how neurochemical influences from the brainstem affect the rest of the brain to bring about consciousness could help brain-damaged patients and further our understanding of how consciousness works. A new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS] by researchers at the Division of Anaesthesia, University of Cambridge investigates the […]

Knowledge gap on zoonotic disease transmission highlighted

The impact of climate change on migration patterns, particularly in areas which depend on agriculture and livestock, could affect zoonotic disease transmission yet little research has been done to date. A new study, led by Gates Cambridge Scholar and Veterinary Science PhD student Dorien Braam [2018], looks at the research that currently exists, but calls […]

Addressing climate change in words and action

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has called for the US federal government to establish a national, robust and legally binding net-zero target that emphasises comprehensiveness, equity and clarity on the role of offsets.  In an opinion piece in Arizona Republic, Stephen Lezak and his co-authors, including Kate Gallego, the mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, which has done […]

Gates Cambridge mentors: forging bonds and giving back

The Gates Cambridge Scholars Council has been running a mentoring programme since 2018 as part of an effort to bring alumni and scholars closer together, build a stronger sense of community and to give mentors a chance to give back. This year has seen a big increase in the number of mentors coming forward, with […]