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

Addressing the mental health emergency

Mental health has been rising up the global health priority list over the last few years, but Covid accelerated it. Yet the resources available to those in crisis situations are few. Gates Cambridge Scholar Usama Mirza is addressing one particular gap in his home country of Pakistan, having recently launched Asia’s first mental health ambulance […]

Food security in Africa through a multi-disciplinary lens

Three Gates Cambridge Scholars are collaborating on an innovative project to map and address the disappearance of historically undervalued African indigenous and traditional food crops at a time of climate crisis. The project is the brainchild of Dr Carol Ibe, founder of the JR Biotek Foundation, a charity which trains, upskills and empowers present and […]

Double winner

Jenna Armstrong has done it again. Last year she was part of the winning Cambridge women’s rowing team and her team did it again last weekend. Jenna [2020] started rowing in 2011 as an undergraduate, but took five years off from 2015 to 2020 until she picked it up again when she started at Cambridge. She […]

What does extreme weather mean for us?

Three Gates Cambridge Scholars from China, the US and India are taking part in the third episode of the Gates Cambridge podcast, So, now what? which is out today [26th March] as part of the Cambridge Festival’s Festival of Podcasts. The episode, featuring Victoria Herrmann [2015], Songqiao Yao [2014] and Ramit Debnath [2018] and hosted […]