Karen Cahill Print




:   Planetary Geologist; Spectroscopist

:  Planetary

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Degree Field of Study Year Attained Institution Name
B.A. Physics 1994 Ohio Wesleyan University
M.S. Geology 1999 Michigan State University
Ph.D. Geology 2005 University of Tennessee - Knoxville

I am a published and respected spectroscopist/geochemist who has participated in several NASA missions to Mars and Mercury. I have twenty years experience using remote sensing and laboratory analysis of samples in government and academia. My experience working with remote sensing ranges from terrestrial and planetary geochemistry to land mine and IED detection. This work has involved field work, research, peer-reviewed publications, scientific presentations at conferences, education and public outreach, and proposal writing. I am proficient with IDL and ENVI, igneous crystallization modeling programs, and multiple linear regression techniques. I have vast experience with word processing, spreadsheet, and graphical programs and am familiar with MATLAB, UNIX sytems, web design, and ArcGIS software.

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Start Year End Year Description
2019 Current Laboratory Manager/Scientist (JHU-APL) • Manage the day-to-day operations of the Laboratory for Spectroscopy under Planetary Environmental Conditions - Custom-made ultra-high vacuum environmental chamber (10^-8 and 10^-10 torr), temperature 100K - 650K, reflectance spectroscopy from ~140 nm to ~5000 nm - Custom-made MarsAnalog Reflectance Spectroscopy chamber, 0.35 to 25 um reflectance spectroscopy of materials under Martian conditions
2016 2019 Senior Scientist, (Planetary Science Institute) • PI - NASA PMDAP grant adapting radiative transfer modeling for use with MESSENGER data • Co-I - NASA-PSI SSERVI Toolbox for Research and Exploration (TREX) • Co-I NASA DDAP numerical petrologic modeling of Mercury • Co-I NASA LDAP investigating UV spectral characterization of Fe-impregnated silica gels to characterize space weathering at UV wavelengths • Co-editor of the Planetary Exploration Newsletter (PEN) - weekly electronic bulletin
2013 2013 ORISE Research Program Scientist (JHU-APL) • Applied spectral modeling techniques to lunar glass simulates with variable compositions to evaluate the robustness of model fits and establish compositional limits for application to telescopic and orbital spectral data
2010 2013 Postdoctoral Fellow (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History) • Science team associate with MESSENGER, conducting petrologic modeling of potential parental magmas of Mercury to better understand the petrologic evolution of Mercury
2005 2009 Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Univ. of Hawai'i, HIGP/NASA-Astrobiology Institute) • Conducted spectroscopic analysis of telescopic NIR spectra of the Moon • Spectroscopic analysis of thermal emission spectra of Mars, including spectral unmixing algorithms and ratio techniques • Participated on team engaged in development of a rugged miniature mass-spectrometer aboard Mars rover missions • Characterized geochemical, spectral, and thermal properties of the Honolulu Volcanic series
2001 2005 Graduate Research Assistant (University of Tennessee - Knoxville) • Participated in the MER Science Team in support of the Spirit rover mission • Conducted spectral analysis and geologic interpretation of Mars TIR data to search for H2O-related minerals on Mars • Conducted petrologic analyses of Martian meteorites to better understand the petrologic history of Mars • Participated in a team project to assess the geologic motivations for selecting Gusev Crater as a MER landing site
1999 2001 Graduate Teaching Assistant (University of Tennessee - Knoxville) • Taught Petrology labs for geology majors (~30 students) • Taught Introductory Geology labs for both geology majors and non-majors (~75 students)
1996 1999 Graduate Teaching/Research Assistant (Michigan State University) • Petrologic analysis and geochemical characterization of the Burroughs Mountain lava flow, Mount Rainer, Washington. • Taught Mineralogy and Petrology labs for geology majors (~40 students) • Taught Introductory Astronomy labs for non-majors (~80 students)
1994 1996 Visiting Graduate Fellow (Lunar and Planetary Institute) • Investigated the lighting environment of the south pole of the Moon using Clementine data to evaluate the possibility of water ice within the shadowed craters and to identify well-lit locations for landers/rovers • Prepared Apollo 17 impact melt breccia at JSC for laboratory analyses; reduced data for geologic interpretation
1994 1994 Summer Intern (Lunar and Planetary Institute and NASA/JSC) • Applied a linear mixing model to Vis-NIR reflectance spectra of Iapetus to investigate the composition of dark, leading side material
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Year Description
2018 NASA Group Achievement Award for the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) Team
2004 NASA Group Achievement Award for the Mars Exploration Rover Team
2003 Planetary Geosciences Institute Excellence in Ph.D. Research (Univ. of Tennessee)
2002 Outstanding Student Paper Award, AGU Planetary Sciences Division
2001 Meteoritical Society Student Travel Grant (Rome, Italy)
2001 Outstanding Petrology Student - Knoxville Gem and Mineral Society
2001 Highest Departmental GPA - Dept. of Geological Sciences, University of Tennessee
2000 GSA SE Section Student Research Grant
2000 University of Tennessee Scholarly Activities Research Incentive Fund - Graduate Research Assistantship Award
1999-2000 Univ. of Tennessee Chancellor's Office Stipend Supplement
1998-99 Florence A. Hill - American Federation of Mineralogical Societies Scholarship
1998 University of New Mexico Volcanology Field Cours Scholarship
1998 Michigan Space Grant Consortium Graduate Fellowship
1997 Lucille B. Drake Award, Dept. of Geological Sciences, Michigan State University
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