PDF available for download (last updated October 2023)

Kathryn Volk

Senior Scientist
Planetary Science Institute

Staff Scientist
Department of Planetary Sciences/Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
The University of Arizona


The University of Arizona
PhD Planetary Sciences — 2013
Dissertation: Dynamical Studies of the Kuiper belt and the Centaurs

Wittenberg University
BS Physics, Russian Area Studies — 2006


see publications page

Positions held

Research Scientist, Planetary Science Institute — 2022 to present

Staff Scientist, The University of Arizona — 2018-2024

Postdoctoral Researcher, The University of Arizona — 2015-2018
Supervisor: Renu Malhotra

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, The University of British Columbia — 2013-2015
Supervisor: Brett Gladman

Graduate Research Associate, The University of Arizona — 2006-2013
Advisor: Renu Malhotra

Grants and Fellowships

PI, Tools for Advanced Dynamical Characterization of Solar System Small Bodies, NASA Planetary Data Archiving, Restoration, and Tools (2022-2025)
PI, Constraining Neptune’s migration using the surface properties of resonant trans-Neptunian objects, NASA Emerging Worlds (2021-2024)
Co-I, The Classical and Large-a Distant Solar System Survey: the Importance of Outer Resonances in Constraining Solar System History, NASA Solar System Observations (2023-2026, PI: R. Pike)
Co-I, Investigating Centaur surface colors: connecting surface transformation to thermal and dynamical history, NASA Solar System Observations (2023-2026, PI: E. Lilly)
PI, Dynamics of sticky resonances and detached Kuiper belt objects, NASA Solar System Workings (2019-2023)
Co-I, Distribution of planet masses, planet-planet separations and dynamical lifetimes of planetary systems, NASA Exoplanet Research Program (2018-2021, PI: R. Malhotra)
Co-I, Kuiper Belt Dynamics with a Distant Unseen Planet, NSF (2018-2021, PI: R. Malhotra)
Co-I/Science PI, Current dynamics of Neptune’s distant mean motion resonances, NASA Solar System Workings (2015-2018, PI: R. Murray-Clay)
Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics National Fellowship (2013-2015)

Selected Invited Talks and Seminars

  • Orbital resonances in the outer solar system: dynamical details and their links to the solar system’s history, invited virtual talk, XXI Coloquio Brasileiro de Dinamica Orbital, December 2022.
  • Orbital resonances in the outer solar system: probing their surprising prevalence and using them to understand the solar systems history, Colloquium, Brigham Young University, November 2022, Provo, UT.
  • Using distant small body populations to reveal the solar system’s dynamical history, Virtual Seminar, Planetary Science Institute, March 2022 (link to recording)
  • Orbital resonances in the outer solar system: how they help reveal the solar system’s history, Virtual Colloquium for the Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, March 2021.
  • Active Centaurs in Context: understanding future members of the Jupiter family comets — invited plenary talk at DPS, October 2020. (link to recording)
  • Solar System Shake-up: how planet migration rearranged our system — invited talk at the Breakthrough Discuss Conference, April 2019, Berkeley, CA. (link to recording)
  • Combining theory and observations of trans-Neptunian objects to pin down Neptune’s migration history — Academica Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics Colloquium, March 2019, Taipei, Taiwan.
  • Our Evolving Picture of the Kuiper Belt: Unexpectedly Warped Mean Planes and New Observations of Resonant Populations — Colloquium, Southwest Research Institute. December 2017, Boulder, CO.
  • The curiously warped mean plane of the Kuiper belt — Colloquium, Lunar and Planetary Institute. September 2017, Houston, TX.
  • Consolidating and crushing exoplanets: dynamical instabilities in tightly packed planetary systems — invited talk for the Inner Solar Systems meeting-in-a-meeting, AAS meeting, June 2017, Austin, TX.
  • Resonant dynamics of trans-Neptunian objects — Colloquium, Las Cumbres Observatory. June 2016, Santa Barbara, CA.
  • Crushed and Consolidated Exoplanet systems: Did it happen here? — Colloquium, Univ. of Arizona Department of Planetary Sciences. September 2015, Tucson, AZ.
  • Crushed Exoplanet systems: Did it happen here? — Seminar, Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics. February 2015, Toronto, ON.
  • Resonant Trans-Neptunian Objects: observed distribution and dynamical origins — Invited Talk, Small Body Dynamics Conference. August 2014, Ubatuba, Brazil.
  • Planet migration and the Kuiper belt: what does our local debris disk tell us about the dynamical history of our Solar System? — Astronomy Colloquium, Univ. of British Columbia Physics and Astronomy Department. January 2014, Vancouver, BC.

Selected Conference Proceedings with online content

Selected Public Talks/Events

  • Interstellar Visitors: What We’ve Learned from 1I/’Oumuamua and 2I/Borisov — Virtual lecture for the Tallahassee Science Society, March 2021.
  • 29P/SW1: An Active Centaur Reveals how Jupiter-Family Comets are Born — Space Drafts/Astronomy on Tap, December 2019, Tucson, AZ.
  • Exoplanet Extravaganza — Summer Star Party Talk, August 2018, Port Ludlow, WA.
  • Tales from the Outer Solar System — Astronomy on Tap Seattle, July 2018, Seattle, WA. (link to recording)
  • This Just in from Deep Space! — Science Panel at Phoenix ComicFest, May 2018, Phoenix, AZ.
  • Are There Unseen Planets Lurking in the Kuiper Belt? — Evening Public Lecture, Lunar and Planetary Lab, November 2017, Tucson, AZ. (link to recording)
  • Are we going to find a new Planet 9? — Space Drafts/Astronomy on Tap, January 2017, Tucson, AZ.
  • The Kuiper Belt: Revealing the History of the Solar System — Space Drafts/Astronomy on Tap, September 2015, Tucson, AZ.


2024, 2023 Science City volunteer at the Tucson Festival of Books
2023, 2022 Evening lecture at the Grand Canyon South Rim Visitor Center
2017, 2016 Judge for the Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation Science Fair
2015, 2014 Presenter for ‘Girls Excelling in Math and Science’ workship at Olympic College, Bremerton, WA
2013 Volunteer for Vancouver Community Science Celebration at Science World, Vancouver, BC
2012 Volunteer at the Arizona Science and Astronomy Expo, Tucson, AZ
2012 Volunteer for Mars + Beyond Exhibit, Science Downtown, Tucson, AZ

Professional Activities and Service

Chair of the Scientific Organizing Committee for the 2024 Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting
Member of the LSST Survey Cadence Optimization Committee (2023-present)
Past Chair of the Division on Dynamical Astronomy (2021-2022)
Chair of the Division on Dynamical Astronomy (2020-2021)
Vice Chair of the Division on Dynamical Astronomy (2019-2020)
Staff Scientist Representative, Dept. of Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona (2019-2020)
Division on Dynamical Astronomy committee member (2017-2019)
Member of the Steward Observatory Telescope Allocation Committee (2018-2019)
Member of the Division for Planetary Sciences Scientific Organizing Committee (2017)
Referee for Icarus, Science, Astronomy & Astrophysics, MNRAS, CelMech&DA, Nature, Nature Astronomy
External reviewer for NASA proposals
Panelist for NASA research program grant reviews
Journal Club Co-organizer, Dept. of Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona (2011-2012)
Grad Student Representative, Dept. of Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona (2010-2011)

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

Professional Affiliations

Division for Planetary Sciences, American Astronomical Society
Division on Dynamical Astronomy, American Astronomical Society

Teaching Experience

Instructor, The University of Arizona
PTYS/ASTR 170B2 The Universe and Humanity: Origin and Destiny (Fall 2015)

Graduate Teaching Assistant, The University of Arizona
LASC 297a Teaching Teams Specialty Training Workshop (Instructor, Fall 2012)
LASC 297a Teaching Teams Specialty Training Workshop (Co-Instructor, Spring 2010)
LASC 297a Teaching Teams Specialty Training Workshop (Co-Instructor, Fall 2009)
PTYS 206 Golden Age of Planetary Exploration (TA, Spring 2009)
PTYS 206 Golden Age of Planetary Exploration (TA, Spring 2008)
NATS 101 Earth: Evolution of a Habitable World (TA, Fall 2006)