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Dr. Karen Cahill

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Senior Scientist

Currently resides in Silver Spring, MD
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Areas of Expertise
Asteroids, Earth, Mars, Mercury, Meteorites, Moon | Mars Odyssey, MER, MESSENGER, MRO | Mission science team | Education/Public Outreach, Field Work, Geology, Mapping, Mineralogy, Petrology, Remote sensing, Spectroscopy, Thermal Emission Spectroscopy, Volcanism | Imaging spectrometers, Spectrometers

Research Interests

Dr. Karen Cahill's research utilizes interdisciplinary approach integrating remote sensing and geochemistry to better understand the geologic history of planetary bodies. She has done this with a number of NASA mission data sets (e.g., Galileo, Clementine, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, and MESSENGER) and a variety of rocks (terrestrial volcanic rocks, Apollo 17 impact melt breccias, and Martian meteorites). She participated on the MGS-TES, MO-THEMIS, MER rover, and MESSENGER science teams, performing spectral and petrologic modeling and has previously worked with a team examining Galileo SSI data of Gaspra.

Professional History

Dr. Stockstill-Cahill has a wealth of experience leveraging remote sensing data sets and geochemical observations to place geochemical constraints on planetary bodies petrologic histories.  She began her research career as a Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) summer intern examining Iapetus with VIS-NIR telescopic data and then became an LPI visiting graduate fellow analyzing Apollo 17 impact melt breccias and the lunar Clementine data set.  Afterward she sought to ground her planetary pursuits with additional Earth Science perspectives by characterizing geologic samples and modeling the geochemical attributes of the Burroughs Mountain lava flow on Mt. Rainier, Washington for her Master’s thesis.  For her Ph.D., she turned back to planetary science and Mars, characterizing parental melts of the Nakhla meteorite by rehomogenizing melt inclusions to determine the composition of the parent melts that erupted to form this rock. She also performed spectral analysis of data from the Mars Global Surveyor Thermal Emission Spectrometer (MGS-TES) and the Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System (MO-THEMIS) of Martian craters to search for mineralogic evidence for a lacustrine history.  Her post-graduate work has included spectral modeling (MGS-TES) and morphology characterization (MO-THEMIS, MGS-MOLA, MGS-MOC) of low albedo deposits in Martian craters that identified ultramafic materials within crater floors, petrologic interpretation, and modeling of Mercury surface compositions derived from MESSENGER, and spectral modeling of lunar glass simulants. She continues to use the intersection of remote sensing and geochemistry to study Mars, Mercury, the Moon, and beyond.

Honors and Awards

NASA Group Achievement Awards for the Mars Exploration Rover Science Team (2004)

Excellence in Ph.D. Research, Planetary Geosciences Institute, University of Tennessee (2003)

Outstanding Student Paper Award, Planetary Sciences, American Geophysical Union (2002)

Meteoritical Society Travel Grant -- Rome, Italy (2001)

Outstanding Petrology Student, Knoxville Gem and Mineral Society (2001)

Highest Departmental GPA, Dept. of Geological Sciences, University of Tennessee (2001)

Geological Society of America Southeastern Section Student Research Grant (2000)

University of Tennessee Scholarly Activities Research Incentive Fund – Graduate Research Assistantship Award (2000)

Florence A. Hill – American Federation of Mineralogical Societies Scholarship (1998-99)

Chancellor’s Office stipend supplement, University of Tennessee (1999-2000)

University of New Mexico Volcanology Field Course Scholarship (1998)

Michigan Space Grant Consortium Graduate Fellowship (1998)

Lucile B. Drake Award, Dept. of Geological Sciences, Michigan State University (1997)

Lunar and Planetary Institute Graduate Fellowship (1994-1995)

Selection as Lunar and Planetary Institute Intern (1994)

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