Robert Preece

Associate ProfessorRobPreece


Office: Cramer Hall 2005

Phone: 256-961-7654





  • B.A. 1982, University of California, Berkeley
  • M.S. 1985, Ohio State University
  • Ph.D. 1990, University of Maryland, College Park


Research interests

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


Past graduate students


Yuki Kaneko

Ph.D. 2005

Dissertation: "Spectral Studies of Gamma-Ray Burst Prompt Emission"


Adam Goldstein

Ph.D. 2012

Dissertation: "The Use of the Bulk Properties of Gamma-Ray Burst Prompt Emission Spectra for the Study of Cosmology"


Michael Burgess

Ph.D. 2013

Dissertation: "Discerning the Physical Properties of Gamma-Ray Bursts via Time-Resolved Analysis with Physical Spectral Models"


Selected recent publications

  1. Preece, R. D., Burgess, J. M. et al. The first pulse of the extremely bright GRB 130427A: A test lab for synchrotron shocks, Science, 343, 51 (2014).
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  2. Goldstein, A., Burgess, J. M., Preece, R. D., et al. The Fermi GBM gamma-ray burst spectral catalog: The first two years, Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 199, 19 (2012).
  3. Burgess, J. M., Preece, R. D., et al. Constraints on the synchrotron shock model for the Fermi gamma-ray burst 090820A, Astrophjysical Journal Letters, 741, 24 (2011).
  4. Hakkila, J., and Preece, R. D., Unification of pulses in long and short gamma-ray bursts: Evidence from pulse properties and their correlations, Astrophysical Journal, 740, 104 (2011).
  5. Ackermann, M., et al. (R. D. Preece is a contact author), Detection of a spectral break in the extra hard component of GRB 090926A, Astrophysical Journal, 729, 114 (2011).
  6. Goldstein, A., Preece, R. D., and Briggs, M. S., A new discriminator for gamma ray burst classification: The Epeak – fluence energy ratio, Astrophysical Journal, 721, 1329 (2010).
  7. González, M. M., Carrillo-Barragán, M., Dingus, B. L., Kaneko, Y., Preece, R. D., and Briggs, M. S., Broadband, time-dependent, spectroscopy of the brightest bursts observed by BATSE LAD and EGRET TASC, Astrophysical Journal, 696, 2155 (2009).
  8. 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, Science, 323, 1688 (2009).
  9. Kaneko, Y., Gonzalez, M. M., Preece, R. D., Dingus, B. L., and Briggs, M. S., Broadband spectral properties of bright high-energy gamma-ray bursts observed with BATSE and EGRET, Astrophysical Journal, 677, 1168 (2008).
  10. Kaneko, Y., Preece, R. D., Briggs, M. S., Paciesas, W. S., Meegan, C. A., and Band, D. L., The complete spectral catalog of bright BATSE gamma-ray bursts, Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 166, 298 (2006).
  11. Band, D. L., and Preece, R. D., Testing the gamma-ray burst energy relationships, Astrophysical Journal, 637, 319 (2005).
  12. Gonzalez, M. M., Dingus, B. L., Kaneko, Y., Preece, R. D., Dermer, C. D., and Briggs, M. S., Discovery of a gamma-ray burst with an unexpected higher energy spectral component, Nature, 424, 749 (2003).
  13. Preece, R. D., Briggs, M. S., Giblin, T. W., Mallozzi, R. S., Pendleton, G. N., and Paciesas, W. S., On the consistency of gamma-ray burst spectral indices with the synchrotron shock model, Astrophysical Journal, 581, 1248 (2002).
  14. Preece, R. D., Briggs, M. S., Mallozzi, R. S., Pendleton, G. N., Paciesas, W. S., and Band, D. L., The BATSE gamma-ray burst spectral catalog. I. High time resolution spectroscopy of bright bursts using high energy resolution data, Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 126, 19 (2000).
  15. Preece, R. D., Briggs, M. S., Mallozzi, R. S., Pendleton, G. N., Paciesas, W. S., and Band, D. L., The synchrotron shock model confronts a "Line of Death" in the BATSE gamma-ray burst data, Astrophysical Journal, 506, L26 (1998).
  16. Preece, R. D., Pendleton, G. N., Briggs, M. S., Mallozzi, R. S., Paciesas, W. S., Band, D. L., Matteson, J. L., and Meegan, C. A., BATSE observations of gamma-ray burst spectra. IV. Time-resolved high-energy spectroscopy, Astrophysical Journal, 496, 849 (1998).

Recent grants and contracts

  1. NASA Flight Opportunity: Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope: "A Bursts Monitor (GBM) for the GLAST Mission" (Charles Meegan, NASA, PI; R.P. Co-I) - $6 million
  2. Fermi Solar Flare Investigations (NASA NNM11AA01A) - $16,000