Robert Preece, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor, Space Science


301 Sparkman Drive
Huntsville, AL 35899
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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. He currently serves the department as Associate Chair.

Curriculum Vitae


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

Honors & Awards

  • Fall 2019 S.T. Wu Award, 2019, Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomical Research, UAH
  • Hakkila, J., & Preece, R. D. (2019). How pulses in short gamma-ray bursts constrain HMXRB evolution. In IAU Symposium (Vol. 346).
  • Spring 2018 Bruno Rossi Prize, 2018, High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society, Awarded to the Fermi GBM Team for the discovery of Gamma-rays coincident with a neutron-star merger gravitational wave event. This confirmed that short gamma-ray bursts are produced by binary neutron-star mergers and enabled a global multi-wavelength follow-up campaign, 2018, High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society
  • Spring 2017 NASA Space Flight Awareness Team Award: Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor Team, 2017, NASA
  • McConnell, M. L., Baring, M. G., Bloser, P. F., Briggs, M. S., Connaughton, V., Dwyer, J., ... Preece. (2017). LEAP-A Large Area GRB Polarimeter for the ISS (Vol. 16). AAS/High Energy Astrophysics Division.

Research Funding

  • 2016 MSFC Faculty Fellowship Program, Funded by NASA/MSFC (June 6, 2016 - August 12, 2016), awarded June 6, 2016 ($17,000.00), Completed, Fall 2016, PI Robert Preece
  • Investigating the Low Energy Response of the Fermi LAT via an Energy Dispersion Analysis, Funded by NASA (May 6, 2010 - May 5, 2016), awarded June 14, 2010 ($111,000.00), Completed, Fall 2016, PI Robert Preece
  • GEANT4 Detector Simulation Capability to Support Future UAH Astrophysics Mission Proposals, Funded by UAH Individual Investigator Distinguished Research (IIDR) Program (April 1, 2015 - March 31, 2016), awarded April 1, 2015 ($36,750.00), Completed, Fall 2016, PI Robert Preece
  • LEAP - Large Area burst Polarimeter, Funded by NASA (Subcontract through the University of New Hampshire) (April 24, 2020 - December 31, 2020), awarded March 16, 2020 ($19,193.00), Funded - In Progress, Spring 2020, PI Robert Preece with CoInvestigator Michael Briggs, CoInvestigator Charles Meegan
  • Is There a Relation Between Prompt GRB Polarization and Spectral Parameters? Answers from Fermi-GBM ASTRSAT, Funded by NASA (October 1, 2017 - September 30, 2019), awarded July 1, 2017 ($59,665.00), Funded - In Progress, Fall 2017, CoPI Robert Preece (1%) with CoPI Peter Veres
  • LEAP Large Area Polarimeter, Phase A Studies (NASA AO NNH17ZDA004O-APEXMO) - $35,000
  • 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
  • Fermi Solar Flare Investigations (NASA NNM11AA01A) - $16,000


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

Recent Publications

  • Ajello M., Arimoto M., Axelsson M., Baldini L., Barbiellini G., Bastieri D., Bellazzini R., et al., (2020). Fermi and Swift Observations of GRB 190114C: Tracing the Evolution of High-energy Emission from Prompt to Afterglow. The Astrophysical Journal, 890, 9.

  • Hamburg R., Fletcher C., Burns E., Goldstein A., Bissaldi E., Briggs M. S., Cleveland W. H., et al., (2020). A Joint Fermi-GBM and LIGO/Virgo Analysis of Compact Binary Mergers from the First and Second Gravitational-wave Observing Runs. The Astrophysical Journal, 893, 100.

  • von Kienlin, A.; Meegan, C. A.; Paciesas, W. S.; Bhat, P. N.; Bissaldi, E.; Briggs, M. S.; … Preece, R. (2020). The Fourth Fermi-GBM Gamma-Ray Burst Catalog: A Decade of Data. The Astrophysical Journal, 893, 46.

  • Burns, E., Goldstein, A., Hui, C. M., Blackburn, L., Briggs, M. S., Connaughton, V., ... Preece, R. (2019). A Fermi Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor Search for Electromagnetic Signals Coincident with Gravitational-wave Candidates in Advanced LIGO's First Observing Run. The Astrophysical Journal, 871(1), 90.

  • Veres, P., Dal Canton, T., Burns, E., Goldstein, A., Littenberg, T. B., Christensen, N., & Preece, R. D. (2019). Fermi-GBM Follow-up of LIGO-Virgo Binary Black Hole Mergers: Detection Prospects. The Astrophysical Journal, 882(1), 53.

  • von Kienlin, A., Veres, P., Roberts, O. J., Hamburg, R., Bissaldi, E., Briggs, M. S., ... Preece, R. (2019). Fermi-GBM GRBs with Characteristics Similar to GRB 170817A. The Astrophysical Journal, 876(1), 89.

  • Acciari, V. A., Ansoldi, S., Antonelli, L. A., Engels, A. A., Baack, D., Babi{'c}, A., ... Preece, R. (2019). Observation of inverse Compton emission from a long gamma-ray burst. Nature, 575(7783), 459–463.

  • Connaughton, V., Burns, E., Goldstein, A., Blackburn, L., Briggs, M. ~s., Christensen, N., ... Preece, R. (2018). On the Interpretation of the Fermi-GBM Transient Observed in Coincidence with LIGO Gravitational-wave Event GW150914. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 853(1), L9.

  • Veres, P., M{'esz'aros}, P., Goldstein, A., Fraija, N., Connaughton, V., Burns, E., ... Kocevski, D. (2018). Gamma-ray burst models in light of the GRB 170817A - GW170817 connection. arXiv E-Prints, arXiv:1802.07328.

  • Goldstein, A., Veres, P., Burns, E., Blackburn, L., Briggs, M. S., Christensen, N., ... Preece. (2017). Fermi Observations of the LIGO Event GW170104. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 846(1), L5.