First Class of NHFP Fellows Selected

Andy Fruchter (fruchter[at]

Twenty-four young astrophysicists have been selected for the first class of the new NASA Hubble Fellowship Program. As described in an earlier newsletter article (The New NASA Hubble Fellowship Program), NASA is combining the Einstein, Hubble and Sagan fellowships into a single new program, the NASA Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP). The NHFP will, like the fellowships it supersedes, support outstanding postdoctoral scientists to pursue independent research in any area of NASA Astrophysics, using theory, observation, experimentation, or instrumental development.  

The new NHFP preserves the legacy of NASA's previous postdoctoral fellowship programs; once selected, fellows are named to one of three sub-categories corresponding to NASA's "big questions": 

How does the Universe work? – Einstein Fellows
How did we get here? – Hubble Fellows
Are we alone? – Sagan Fellows

The NHFP received 350 applications from astophysicists who are completeing their PhD this year, or have completed their PhD in the last three years. In January, six topical panels met to sort through the applications. About one-half of the new fellows were chosen directly by the panels, and the remainder were chosen from short lists created by the panels by a committee made up of the panel chairs and the Selection Chair. Panel members and chairs were chosen largely from the U.S. astrophysical community, but a number came from Europe or Cananda.

Fellows receive a salary and funds for their research and can take the fellowship to a U.S. host institution of their choice. However, no more than two new fellows are permitted to go to any one institution in a given year.   The list below provides the names of the 2018 awardees, their host institutions, and their proposed research topic:

Einstein Fellows

  • Kate Alexander, Northwestern University, Quantifying the Diversity of Relativistic Transients with Radio Observations
  • Benedikt Diemer, Harvard University, Mapping the True Boundary of Dark Matter Halos with the Splashback Radius
  • Ke Fang, Stanford University, The Highest-energy Electromagnetic Counterparts to Neutron Star Mergers
  • Maximiliano Isi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Fundamental Physics in the Era of Gravitational Wave Astronomy
  • Ben Margalit, University of California–Berkeley, Interpreting the Diverse Transient Sky
  • Aaron Smith, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Radiation Signatures of the First Galaxies and Supermassive Black Holes
  • Vladimir Zhdankin, Princeton University, First-Principles Modeling of Astrophysical Turbulence in Collisionless, Nonthermal Plasmas

Hubble Fellows

  • Philip Cowperthwaite, Carnegie Observatories, Driving the Growth of Joint Gravitational Wave and Electromagnetic Astronomy
  • Daniel Goldstein, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Putting a New Generation of Strongly Lensed Supernovae to Work
  • Max Gronke, University of California–Santa Barbara, Casting (Lyman-Alpha) Light on Galaxy Formation
  • Melodie Kao, Arizona State University, How Do Substellar Objects Generate Magnetic Fields?
  • Charlotte Mason, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Revolutionizing Reionization with JWST
  • Aaron Meisner, California Institute of Technology, Revealing the Sun's Coolest, Nearest Neighbors with NOWISE-Reactivation
  • Erica Nelson, Harvard University, The Emergence of Galactic Structure
  • Anna Schauer, University of Texas–Austin, Minihaloes: Formation Sites of the First Stars and the Onset of Deionization
  • Irene Shivaei, University of Arizona, Unveiling the Obscured Early Universe in the JWST Era
  • Tuguldur Sukhbold, The Ohio State University, Core-Collapse Supernovae Across Metallicities and Engines
  • Jamie Tayar, University of Hawaii–Institute for Astronomy, Subgiants: Models, Rotation, Convection, and Planets
  • Yuan-Sen Ting, Institute for Advanced Study, Chemically Tagging the Milky Way

Sagan Fellows

  • Ian Czekala, University of California–Berkeley, A Uniform Measurement of Pre-Main Sequence Stellar Masses and System Architectures Using Protoplanetary Disks
  • Johan Mazoyer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Can We Detect Exo-Earths with Future Large Space-Based Coronagraphic Instruments?
  • Erik Petigura, California Institute of Technology, The Origin of Small Planets
  • Kamber Schwarz, University of Arizona, The Evolution of Volatile Molecules from Protoplanetary Disks to Exoplanet Atmospheres
  • Daniel Tamayo, Princeton University, A Million-Fold Speedup in the Dynamical Characterization of Exoplanet Systems

The NHFP is funded through the NASA's contract with the Institute to support the Hubble Space Telescope. The program is administered by the Institute for NASA in collaboration with the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) at the California Institute of Technology and the Chandra X-ray Center at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.   The program is being led by Andy Fruchter (STScI), Paul Green (CXC) and Dawn Gellino (NExScI). Kartik Sheth is the NASA Headquarters official overseeing the program.