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Dr. Kathryn Volk

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Research Scientist

Currently resides in AZ
kvolk [at]
Areas of Expertise
Targets: Asteroids, Comets, Exoplanets, Kuiper Belt, Trans-Neptunian objects
Disciplines/Techniques: Celestial Mechanics, Ground-based observing
Facilities: Kitt Peak, LBT

Research Interests

Dr. Volk's current research focuses on using small body populations to understand the history of the solar system. This includes combining observational and theoretical studies to examine the current orbital dynamics of small body populations (including trans-Neptunian objects, Centaurs, and comets) and modeling the dynamical histories of the giant planets to make observationally testable predictions about different planet migration scenarios. Dr. Volk contributed to the Outer Solar System Origins Survey, which discovered more than 800 trans-Neptunian objects, and she is active in the Solar System Science Collaboration for the Vera Rubin Observatory's Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). One of her current projects is developing software tools to characterize the orbital dynamics of the many expected new small body discoveries from LSST. She also works on the dynamics of exoplanet systems, investigating the triggers of dynamical instabilities in closely packed planetary systems. 

A list of publications can be found on her Google Scholar page.

Professional History

Dr. Volk received her Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Russian Area Studies from Wittenberg University in 2006 and her Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences from the University of Arizona in 2013. She was a Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophyics Natinal Fellow at the University of British Columbia from 2013-2015, returning to the University of Arizona first as a postdoctoral researcher then as a staff scientist from 2015-2023. She was in the leadership of the American Astronomical Society's Division on Dynamical Astronomy from 2017-2022, serving as Vice Chair, Chair, then Past Chair from 2019-2022. Dr. Volk's full CV is available on her website.

Honors and Awards

Vera Rubin Early Career Prize, American Astronomical Society Division on Dynamical Astronomy (2022)
College of Science Outstanding Scholarship Award, University of Arizona (2013)
Gerard P. Kuiper Memorial Award, Lunar and Planetary Lab, University of Arizona (2013)
Galileo Circle Scholar, University of Arizona (2011)
Department of Planetary Sciences Services Award, University of Arizona (2010)
Galileo Circle Scholar, University of Arizona (2009)
College of Science Graduate Teaching Assistant Award, University of Arizona (2007)
Department of Planetary Sciences Graduate Teaching Excellence Award, University of Arizona (2006)
Departmental Honors in Physics, Wittenberg University (2006)
Award for Excellence in the Russian Studies Program, Wittenberg University (2006)
Weaver Prize for Physics, Wittenberg University (2005)
Presidential Scholar, Wittenberg University

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