Robert M. Walker Distinguished Lecture Series

The lecture is organized by the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences in memory of Robert M. Walker, the center’s inaugural director from 1975 to 1999. Walker was a pioneering physicist who shaped research in the space sciences worldwide.

 

The McDonnell Center, established in 1975 through a gift from aerospace pioneer James S. McDonnell, is a consortium of Washington University faculty, research staff and students primarily from the departments of Earth and Planetary Sciencesand Physics, both in Arts & Sciences, who are working on the cutting edge of space research.

Exploration of the Solar System - Meenakshi Wadhwa

Wadhwa discussed the analysis of lunar samples returned by NASA astronauts and by the robotic Soviet Luna program. NASA has also returned samples from a comet and from the Sun. NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission has recently returned samples of asteroid Bennu. These sample returns have enhanced our knowledge of the early Solar System, planet formation processes, and the origins of organics and volatiles on celestial bodies. She also highlighted future plans to return samples from Mars.

2023 Walker Distinguished Lectures will discuss bringing Mars samples back to Earth

2023 Walker Distinguished Lectures will discuss bringing Mars samples back to Earth

Planetary sciences alumni return for Walker Distinguished Lectures

Planetary sciences alumni return for Walker Distinguished Lectures

Past Lectures

October 2023

Exploration of the Solar System via Sample Return Missions | Dr. Meenakshi Wadhwa, Arizona State University

Bringing Mars Samples Back to Earth  | Dr. Meenakshi Wadhwa, Arizona State University

October 2022

OSIRIS-REx and Near-Earth Asteroid Bennu - Returning a Sample of the Early Solar System  | Professor Dante Lauretta, The University of Arizona

Playing Tag with an Asteroid - NASA's OSIRIS-REx Mission at Asteroid Bennu  | Professor Dante Lauretta, The University of Arizona

November & December 2021

Sampling the Solar System: A key in our quest to understand Earth's origin and evolution | Professor Kevin McKeegan, University of California - Los Angeles

The Laboratory Analysis of Solar Matter and Implications for Nebula Chemistry | Professor Kevin McKeegan, University of California - Los Angeles

November 2019

Exploring the Warped Side of the Universe with Gravitational Waves: From the Big Bang to Black Holes | Professor Emeritus Kip S. Thorne, California Institute of Technology

November 2018

How to Find an Inhabited Exoplanet  | Professor David Charbonneau, Harvard University

The Terrestrial Planets of Other Stars  | Professor David Charbonneau, Harvard University

October 2017

Optical Atomic Clock and Applications  | Professor Jun Ye, JILA, NIST and University of Colorado

Cold Molecules - A New Playground for Quantum and Chemical Physics  | Professor Jun Ye, JILA, NIST and University of Colorado

November 2016

Einstein, Gravitational Waves and Black Holes  | Gabriela Gonzalez, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Spokesperson for the LIGO Collaboration, Louisiana State University

Searching for -- and Finding! Gravitational Waves  | Gabriela Gonzalez, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Spokesperson for the LIGO Collaboration, Louisiana State University

November 2015

The Voyager Journey to Interstellar Space  | Edward C. Stone, David Morrisroe Professor of Physics, Vice Provost for Special Projects, California Institute of Technology

Voyager Explores the Edge of Interstellar Space  | Edward C. Stone, David Morrisroe Professor of Physics, Vice Provost for Special Projects, California Institute of Technology

October 2014

Black Holes  | Professor Ramesh Narayan, Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences, Harvard University

Astrophysical Black Holes  | Professor Ramesh Narayan, Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences, Harvard University

November 2013

Booms, Burps & Bumps: The Dynamic Universe  | Professor Shrinivas Kulkarni, McArthur Professor of Astronomy & Planetary Science, California Institute of Technology

There Is More Room Sideways  | Professor Shrinivas Kulkarni, McArthur Professor of Astronomy & Planetary Science, California Institute of Technology

November 2012

Perspectives on the First Billion Years of Lunar Evolution from Spacecraft  | Maria Zuber, E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Water on the Moon  | Maria Zuber, E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

October 2011

NASA at mid-life: The future of human space exploration  | Dr. Charles F. Kennel, Chair of the National Academies Space Studies Board

Managing Climate Risk: Precarious Decades Ahead  | Dr. Charles F. Kennel, Chair of the National Academies Space Studies Board

October 2010

Astronaut Preparation  | Astronaut Lieutenant Colonel, Robert L. Behnken

Missions to the International Space Station  | Astronaut Lieutenant Colonel, Robert L. Behnken

October 2009

Mars as the Abode of Life?  | Andrew H. Knoll, Fisher Professor of Natural History and Professor Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University

October 2008

Mars: Environments, Habitability, and Life  | Raymond E. Arvidson, James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor, Washington University in St. Louis