About the Center

Space science is the province of multiple disciplines. Understanding the formation and evolution of the solar system, the galaxy, or the universe is equally the task of the cosmochemist who measures isotopic effects in meteorites, the astronomer who observes planetary atmospheres or interstellar dust, and the astrophysicist who studies high energy emissions and gravitational effects of neutron star mergers.

Faculty, researchers, and students of the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences belong to one of the traditional science departments, yet overlap in their research. Members of the Center enjoy the diversity of research being conducted and consider the eclectic nature of the Center to be one of the most important aspects of the space sciences program at Washington University.

The McDonnell Center plays a key role at Washington University through endowed professorships, supporting acquisition of sophisticated instrumentation, hiring new faculty, supporting postdoctoral and graduate student fellowships, administering visiting scientist programs, seeding innovative research, and fostering wide-reaching collaborations.  

As we look to the future, space science is central to humanity’s aspiration for knowledge as we seek to explore and comprehend our surroundings and our beginnings.     

The sample return capsule from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission is seen shortly after touching down in the desert, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, at the Department of Defense’s Utah Test and Training Range. Credits: NASA/Keegan Barber

Asteroid Bennu samples have arrived on campus for analysis

After a seven year journey to asteroid Bennu and back, OSIRIS-REx brought samples back to earth, dropping them through the atmosphere on September 24.

Tansu Daylan

Preparing for a Leap

Tansu Daylan, assistant professor of physics and fellow of the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, both in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has received a two-year, $300K grant from NASA on it's upcoming Roman Space Telescope.

Meet Our Partners

Postdoc Focus

Andrea Gokus 

Hunting supermassive black holes in the early Universe

Dr. Andrea Gokus has completed her first year of a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University’s McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences. Her research focuses on supermassive black holes inside of active galaxies. Their activity is spawned by material that orbits and eventually falls onto the black hole.

Read More
Andrea Gokus