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Fellowship honors the nation’s most innovative, early-career scientists

Professor Wen-fai Fong Receives Prestigious Packard Fellowship

Fellowship honors the nation’s most innovative, early-career scientists

Prof. Wen-fai Fong; image credit: Eileen Molony

CIERA Professor  Wen-fai Fong has received a 2021 Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The prestigious fellowship includes an unrestricted grant of $875,000 over five years to pursue innovative and experimental research. 

The foundation today named Fong and 19 others as the nation’s most innovative, early-career scientists and engineers. 

“I view the Packard Fellowship as a life-changing opportunity for me,” said Fong, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “With it, I will be able to pursue high-risk, interdisciplinary scientific endeavors that I have been dreaming of, but have never had the resources to carry out. 

“I credit my army of scientific and personal mentors for their unending support over the past decade. It is equally incredible to share this opportunity with my research group at Northwestern, who motivate and inspire me to pay it forward and be the best mentor I can be. Equipped with the Packard Fellowship, I am so excited for the transformational science we will be able to pursue together in the coming years.” 

Fong is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a member here at the Center for Interdisciplinary Education and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA).  

Fong and her research group are investigating the enigmatic origins of the universe’s fastest explosions, known as transients, and their host galaxy environments. Fong utilizes observations across the electromagnetic spectrum to study fast radio bursts, gamma-ray bursts, electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational wave sources and anything that collides or explodes. 

She is interested in the origins of these transients, the types of environments they explode into and the nature and composition of the material ejected. To do this work, Fong and her group use a large variety of telescopes on the ground and in space that span radio, optical, near-infrared and X-ray wavelengths.  

Continue to the full Northwestern News story by Megan Fellman.

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