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.     

Pacific rock samples offer a glimpse of an active Earth 2.5 billion years ago

Pacific rock samples offer a glimpse of an active Earth 2.5 billion years ago

Assistant Professor Rita Parai and graduate student Judy Zhang got a glimpse of Earth’s history by tracking infinitesimal levels of noble gases in volcanic rocks.

Two lasers with different pulse lengths of light serve to replicate space weathering in the laboratory.

With NASA support, device for future lunar mission being developed at WashU

Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis are developing a prototype for an instrument for a future moon mission with support from a nearly $3 million grant from NASA.

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.

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Andrea Gokus