Dr. Robert Preece

Assistant Director, CSPAR, Associate Professor, Associate Chair, Space Science Department


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.

As a member of the Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor Team, located in UAH’s Cramer Hall, he was privileged to participate in the first-ever joint detection of a burst of high-energy gamma-rays in coincidence with a gravitational wave event. The historic GRB 170817A proved that collisions between two neutron stars can provide the enormous amounts of energy required to power a gamma-ray burst, and incidentally cause the formation of all the heavy elements in the Universe, including platinum, gold and uranium. Recently, NASA selected a proposal, on which he is a co-investigator, for further study to build LEAP, a large area gamma-ray polarimeter to be mounted on the International Space Station.

Dr. Robert Preece's Curriculum Vitae


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

Classes Taught

Recent Grants & Contracts

  • 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

Selected Publications

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Yu, H.-F., Greiner, J., van Eerten, H., Burgess, J. M., Bhat, P. N., Briggs, M. S., Connaughton, V., Diehl, R., Goldstein, A., Gruber, D., Preece, R. D., others (2015). Synchrotron cooling in energetic gamma-ray bursts observed by the Fermi Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 573, A81.
  • Improved Limits on Sterile Neutrino Dark Matter Using Full­sky Fermi Gamma­ray Burst Monitor Data, by K C Y Ng, S Horiuchi, S, J M Gaskins, M Smith, R Preece, Physical Review D, Volume 92, Issue 4, id.043503 (PhRvD Homepage) Publication, 2015.
  • The Sharpness of Gamma­ray Burst Prompt Emission Spectra by H Yu, H J van Eerten, J Greiner, R Sari, P Narayana Bhat, A von Kienlin, W S Paciesas, R Preece, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 583, id.A129, 16 pp. A&A Homepage, 2015.
  • Burgess, J. M., Preece, R. D., Ryde, F., Veres, P., Mészáros, P., Connaughton, V., Briggs, M., Pe’er, A., Iyyani, S., Goldstein, A., others (2014). An Observed Correlation Between Thermal and Non-Thermal Emission in Gamma-Ray Bursts. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 784(2), L43.
  • Ackermann, M., Ajello, M., Asano, K., Atwood, W., Axelsson, M., Baldini, L., Ballet, J., Barbiellini, G., Baring, M., Bastieri, D., Preece, R. D., others (2014). Fermi-LAT observations of the gamma-ray burst GRB 130427A. Science, 343(6166), 42–47.
  • Hakkila, J., Preece, R. D. (2014). Gamma-Ray Burst Pulse Shapes: Evidence for Embedded Shock Signatures? The Astrophysical Journal, 783(2), 88.
  • Foley, S., Fitzpatrick, G., Briggs, M., Connaughton, V., Tierney, D., McBreen, S., Dwyer, JR, Chaplin, V., Bhat, P., Byrne, D., Preece, R. D., others (2014). Pulse properties of terrestrial gamma-ray flashes detected by the Fermi Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.
  • Gruber, D., Goldstein, A., von Ahlefeld, V. W., Bhat, P. N., Bissaldi, E., Briggs, M. S., Byrne, D., Cleveland, W. H., Connaughton, V., Diehl, R., Preece, R. D., others (2014). The Fermi GBM Gamma-Ray Burst Spectral Catalog: Four Years Of Data. The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 211(1), 12.
  • Preece, R. D., Burgess, J. M., von Kienlin, A., Bhat, P., Briggs, M. S., Byrne, D., Chaplin, V., Cleveland, W., Collazzi, A., Connaughton, V., others (2014). The First Pulse of the Extremely Bright GRB 130427A: A Test Lab for Synchrotron Shocks. Science, 343(6166), 51–54.
  • von Kienlin, A., Meegan, C. A., Paciesas, W. S., Bhat, P., Bissaldi, E., Briggs, M. S., Burgess, J. M., Byrne, D., Chaplin, V., Cleveland, W., Preece, R. D., others (2014). The Second Fermi GBM Gamma-Ray Burst Catalog: The First Four Years. The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 211(1), 13. Zank