51 Pegasi b Fellowship recipient headed to Yale

Photo of Christopher Spalding standing before a blackboard.
Christopher Spalding

The Heising-Simons Foundation has named incoming Yale postdoctoral student Christopher Spalding as a recipient of a 51 Pegasi b Fellowship for 2018.

Established in 2017, the fellowships are named for the first exoplanet discovered orbiting a Sun-like star. The fellowship provides postdoctoral scientists the opportunity to conduct theoretical, observational, and experimental research in planetary astronomy.

Planetary astronomy is at an interesting crossroads that I equate to biology in the early 1800s,” Spalding said. “Like Darwin publishing his theory of evolution to explain the diversity of lifeforms, planetary astronomy is nearing a breakthrough theory that unites all the various types of planets into one galactic framework.”

Spalding will develop and test a theoretical framework on the diverse forms and dynamic behavior of planetary systems. With an interest in fueling collaboration across scientific fields, he will take on astrobiological challenges that include studying the Earth’s long-term habitability.

The fellowship provides up to $375,000 in support for independent research over three years, mentorship by a faculty member at a host institution, and an annual summit to develop professional networks.

Spalding will begin his fellowship at Yale after completing his Ph.D. in planetary sciences at the California Institute of Technology. His Yale faculty mentor will be astronomy professor Greg Laughlin.

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