Planetary & Space Scientists at GaTech


Research Interests: My planetary research focuses on the fluid dynamics of melt in the  subsurface and eruption dynamics. Currently we are working on melt intrusion in the Martian crust, eruption dynamics on the surface of Mars, plume dynamics on Enceladus, and magma dynamics on Io. This work compliments our terrestrial numerical, experimental and fieldwork on multiphase flow.

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Contact: dufek ‘at’


Research Scientists & POstdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Joe Dufek, EAS

Research Interests: My research encompasses the interactions of charged particles in electric and magnetic fields; this includes research related to planetary magnetospheres, icy moon-magnetosphere interactions, ion-neutral interactions, aurora, plasma dynamic simulations, and atmospheric electrodynamics.

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Contact: carol.paty ‘at’

Dr. Carol Paty, EAS

Research Interests: Spacecraft images and spectra reveal the morphology and composition of planetary surfaces, which we use to infer past or present geologic processes, especially those that bear on planetary habitability.  We focus on Mars and on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn that may have liquid oceans.

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Contact: jwray ‘at’

Dr. James Wray, EAS

Research Interests: The main theme of my research is the dynamics of ice, whether it exists on Earth or in space.

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Dr. Catherine Walker

Research Interests: Our group concentrates on the physics and chemistry associated with radiation processing of icy surfaces in the outer solar system and minerals on asteroids, moons and inner planets. We are primarily a laboratory group, but we also include modeling to calibrate and apply our experiments to space craft observation and instrumentation.

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Contact: thomas.orlando ‘at’

Dr. Thom Orlando, CHEM

Research Interests: Our group is conducting laboratory measurements to support microwave remote sensing of planetary atmospheres, and involved in the execution of spacecraft-based radio occultation measurements and earth and space-based radio astronomical measurements. We’re currently involved with NASA’s Juno mission.

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Contact: paul.steffes ‘at’

Dr. Paul Steffes, ECE

Research Interests: I study the interaction between planetary magnetic fields and space plasmas to gain a better understanding of the planet’s magnetic field and its magnetic environment. I am also interested in coronal mass ejection evolution in the inner heliosphere and its effects on airless bodies.

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Contact: reka.winslow ‘at’

Dr. Reka Winslow

Research Interests: My primary interest comes from teaching The Solar System course (PHYS 2021) for the past twenty years.  Main pursuits include naked-eye phenomena, such as the motion of the sunset, the phases of the Moon, and the planetary positions amongst the stars, along with public education.

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Contact: jim.sowell ‘at’

Dr. James Sowell, PHYS

Research Interests:  Our work focuses on understanding the ingredients and dynamic processes that it takes to build and maintain a habitable planet, and how to detect these environments. We use a selection of techniques including theory, remote sensing, and field work in analogue environments on Earth. We focus on icy worlds: Europa and outer solar system moons, as well as the nature of ice and water in the asteroid belt.

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Contact: ‘at’

Dr. Britney Schmidt, EAS

Research Interests: Our research group uses radio waves to remotely sense lightning, the ionosphere, and the near-Earth space environment, and peer into the fundamental physics that link them all together. Broad applications include satellite-ground communications, aviation safety, lightning forecasting, and navigation. We love to build the coolest toys around, and travel to some wacky places to get the science done.

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Contact: morris.cohen ‘at’

Dr. Morris Cohen, ECE

Research Interests: My research focuses on the interaction of the planets and moons of our solar system with the magnetized plasmas incident upon them. To study these interaction processes, I apply computer simulations as well as analytical models based on first principles. Another focus of my work is the analysis of magnetic field data collected in Saturn’s magnetosphere by the Cassini spacecraft.

Learn more: website coming soon!

Contact: ssimon2 ‘at’

Dr. Sven Simon, EAS  -- Arriving in 2014!!


Research Interests: I am currently working on several projects related to planetary science utilizing surface science techniques. Experiments include electron & photon stimulated desorption (ESD/PSD) of alkaline metal ions from Mercury regolith simulants, H+ bombardment of lunar regolith simulant, and detection of H2 from ESD of water ice at 10-100K. I have also worked on gas-phase ion chemistry of Titan’s ionosphere.

Dr. Jason McLain - Now Research Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Research Interests: My research interests focus on numerical modeling applied to planetary sciences and plasmas discharges (including lightning, blue jets, gigantic jets and other transient luminous events). My current work focus on the dynamics of Mars’ ionosphere and the currents forms in the dynamo region.

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Dr. Jeremy Riousset - Now Assistant Professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Research Interests: We focus on radiation process and radiation induced chemistry of icy and rocky planetary bodies using a variety of laboratory techniques including ultra-high vacuum experiments with photons , electrons and ions to study transformations on surfaces and ejecta sputtered from surfaces.

Dr. Gregory Grieves

Research Interests:

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Contact: christopher.bennett ‘at’

Dr. Christopher Bennett

Research Interests: 

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Contact: cindy.young ‘at’

Dr. Cindy Young