Kathleen Vander Kaaden


I am a lesbian and I am a planetary scientist.//

I am a planetary petrologist/geochemist who builds the tiniest of planets in the lab. Born and raised in Massachusetts, I received my Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico in 2016. I am currently a research scientist with the company Jacobs on the JETS contract at NASA Johnson Space Center. My research interests broadly lie in the area of planetary science with an emphasis on geochemistry and experimental petrology. My research focuses on examining the thermal and magmatic evolution of rocky planetary bodies in our Solar System. Although my favorite planet to study is Mercury given its low abundance of oxygen and therefore unconventional behavior of elements, my research extends across all rocky bodies in the inner Solar System including planets and asteroids. I am extremely passionate about educating the next generation of STEM majors and have led an extensive education and public outreach program since starting graduate school in 2010. Since becoming comfortable in my own skin, I have made it a mission to be the role model to younger generations that I needed growing up.