Robert Preece



Associate Professor Robert Preece is a world-class expert on gamma-ray spectroscopy; as a co-investigator for the Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor on NASA's Fermi Space Telescope, launched on June 11, 2008, he is uncovering the clues that will reveal for the first time the incredibly efficient mechanism that gamma-ray bursts use to harness the immense energies that are visible across half the universe.

He received his B.A. in  Math and Physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1982, a M.Sc. in Physics from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics in 1990 from the Physics Department of the University of Maryland in College Park. He then moved to Huntsville, Alabama, and joined the BATSE gamma-ray astronomy team at Marshall Space Flight Center as an NRC postdoc. He started at UAH as a researcher in 1993. In 2013, he joined the faculty of the newly-formed Department of Space Science at UAH as a founding member.

Research Areas

  • Gamma-ray Bursts
  • High-energy Astrophysics
  • Astrophysical Jets
  • General Relativity and Quantum Gravity


  • 1990: Ph.D. in Physics, University of Maryland at College Park
  • 1985: M.S. in Physics, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
  • 1982: B.A. (with Distinction) in Mathematics and Physics, University of California, Berkeley

Past Graduate Students

  • Yuki Kaneko, Ph. D. 2005
  • Adam Goldstein, Ph. D. 2012
  • Michael Burgess, Ph. D. 2013

Current Graduate Students


External Funding

  • Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor
  • Fermi GI Program 2012, "Fermi Solar Flare Investigations"

Representative Papers

  • Preece, R. D., Burgess, J. M. et al. "The First Pulse of the Extremely Bright GRB 130427A: A Test Lab for Synchrotron Shocks", 2012, Science, in press
  • Goldstein, Adam; Burgess, J. Michael; Preece, Robert D., et al. "The Fermi GBM Gamma-Ray Burst Spectral Catalog: The First Two Years", 2012, ApJS, 199, 19
  • Hakkila, Jon; Preece, Robert D., "Unification of Pulses in Long and Short Gamma-Ray Bursts: Evidence from Pulse Properties and Their Correlations", 2011, ApJ, 740, 104
  • Burgess, J. Michael; Preece, Robert D., et al. "Constraints on the Synchrotron Shock Model for the Fermi Gamma-Ray Burst 090820A", 2011, ApJL, 741, 24
  • Ackermann, M., et al. (R. D. Preece is a contact author) "Detection of a Spectral Break in the Extra Hard Component of GRB 090926A, 2011, ApJ, 729, 114
  • Goldstein, A., Preece, R. D., & Briggs, M. S., "A New Discriminator for Gamma Ray Burst Classification: The Epeak – Fluence Energy Ratio", 2010, ApJ, 721, 1329
  • González, M. M.; Carrillo-Barragán, M.; Dingus, B. L.; Kaneko, Y.; Preece, R. D.; Briggs, M. S., "Broadband, Time-Dependent, Spectroscopy of the Brightest Bursts Observed by BATSE LAD and EGRET TASC", 2009, ApJ, 696, 2155
  • Abdo, A. A.; Ackermann, M.; Arimoto, M.; Asano, K.; Atwood, W. B.; Axelsson, M.; Baldini, L.; Ballet, J.; Band, D. L.; Barbiellini, G.; and 244 coauthors (incl. R. D. Preece), "Fermi Observations of High-Energy Gamma-Ray Emission from GRB 080916C", 2009, Science, 323, 1688
  • Kaneko, Y., Gonzalez, M. M., Preece, R., Dingus, B. L., Briggs, M. S., "Broadband Spectral Properties of Bright High-Energy Gamma-Ray Bursts Observed with BATSE and EGRET", 2008, ApJ, 677, 1168
  • Yuki Kaneko, Robert D. Preece, Michael S. Briggs, William S. Paciesas, Charles A. Meegan, and David L. Band, "The Complete Spectral Catalog of Bright BATSE Gamma-Ray Bursts", 2006, ApJS, 166, 298
  • D. L. Band and R. D. Preece, "Testing the Gamma-Ray Burst Energy Relationships", 2005, ApJ, 637, 319
  • M.M. Gonzalez, B.L. Dingus, Y. Kaneko, R.D. Preece, C.D. Dermer, M.S. Briggs, "Discovery of a Gamma-Ray Burst with an Unexpected Higher Energy Spectral Component", 2003, Nature, 424: 749-751
  • R. D. Preece, M. S. Briggs, T. W. Giblin, R. S. Mallozzi, G. N. Pendleton, & W. S. Paciesas, "On the Consistency of Gamma-Ray Burst Spectral Indices with the Synchrotron Shock Model", 2002, The Astrophysical Journal, 581, 1248
  • R. Preece, M. Briggs, R. Mallozzi, G. Pendleton, W. Paciesas & D. Band, "The BATSE Gamma-Ray Burst Spectral Catalog. I. High Time Resolution Spectroscopy of Bright Bursts using High Energy Resolution Data", 2000, Astrophysical Journal Supplements, 206, 19.
  • R. Preece, M. Briggs, R. Mallozzi, G. Pendleton, W. Paciesas & D. Band, "The Synchrotron Shock Model Confronts a 'Line of Death' in the BATSE Gamma-Ray Burst Data", 1998, Astrophysical Journal, 506, L26.
  • R. Preece, G. Pendleton, M. Briggs, R. Mallozzi, W. Paciesas, D. Band, J. Matteson & C. Meegan, "BATSE Observations of Gamma-Ray Burst Spectra. IV. Time-Resolved High-Energy Spectroscopy", 1998, Astrophysical Journal, 496, 849.