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Taken by Camille Seaman, Antarctic Peninsula, February 2024
Taken by Camille Seaman, Antarctic Peninsula, February 2024

Dr. Catherine Walker

Associate Scientist
Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering

Office Phone: 508-289-3848
Location: Bigelow (Village Campus)

NASA Website


Ph.D.: Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. 2013.

B.A. magna cum laude: Astronomy, Geology. Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA. 2007.

Research Interests

My research interests are broad, but mostly center on surface/subsurface processes involving ice and water on Earth and on other planets and moons. 

  • Ice-ocean interactions
  • Antarctic coastal change
  • Ice shelf rifting processes and iceberg calving
  • Ocean Worlds science and Earth analogues
  • Europa (moon of Jupiter) ridge and fracture formation
  • Glacier change in the Americas
  • Remote sensing methods, laser altimetry and topography change
  • Polar oceanography and ecosystem change
  • Planetary surface processes and water-rock interactions


I am originally from North Andover, Massachusetts where I grew up with my twin sister, two dogs and my parents. I saw Apollo 13 when I was 10 years old and decided I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. I haven't given up yet!

I received my Bachelor's degree in Astronomy (and a minor in Geology) from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. During that time, I got to work at the University of New Hampshire on NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) mission to study the Sun.

I got my Ph.D. in Atmospheric Oceanic and Space Sciences from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where I worked with my advisor Dr. Jeremy Bassis to study fractures in ice shelves around Antarctica with an emphasis on how they can help us understand fracture formation in ice shells of Ocean Worlds throughout the solar system.

I was a postdoctoral scholar at Georgia Tech with Dr. Britney Schmidt, where we spent time studying ice-ocean interactions on Europa, a moon of Jupiter, and ice-ocean interactions here on Earth (in Antarctica and Greenland).

I became a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow at the Caltech/NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in 2015, working in the Sea Level and Ice Group. I was also able to work on planetary science projects and some spacecraft mission architecture studies (TeamX).

I moved to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in 2018 and worked in the Project Science Office for the ICESat-2 mission, a satellite laser altimeter that launched into orbit in 2018. I continue to work with colleagues at NASA Goddard to understand the changing cryosphere using ICESat-2's observations!

I arrived at WHOI in 2019 and I'm excited for this next chapter of polar/ocean/planetary exploration!

If you are interested in joining this adventure, please reach out!

Saturn's moon Enceladus photographed by the Cassini spacecraft (NASA)
Saturn's moon Enceladus photographed by the Cassini spacecraft (NASA)
Glacier cliff in the Errera Channel, Antarctic Peninsula (C. Walker)
Glacier cliff in the Errera Channel, Antarctic Peninsula (C. Walker)

Some Recent Publications

Bassis, J. N., Crawford, A., Kachuck, S. B., Benn, D. I., Walker, C. C., Millstein, J., Duddu, R., Åström, J., Fricker, H. A., Luckman, A. (2024). Stability of Ice Shelves and Ice Cliffs in a Changing Climate. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Vol. 52, Issue 1, 00846597, DOI: 10.1146/annurev-earth-040522-122817

Xu, Y., Zhang, W. G., Maksym, T., Ji, R., Li, Y., & Walker, C. (2024). Influence of physical factors on restratification of the upper water column in Antarctic coastal polynyas. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 129, e2023JC020762. doi:10.1029/2023JC020762

Eidam, E., Bisson, K., Wang, C., Walker, C. & Gibbons, A. (2023). ICESat-2 and ocean particulates: Building a roadmap for calculating Kd from space-based lidar photon profiles. EarthArXiv eprints. doi:10.31223/x5638b

Francis, D., Fonseca, R., Mattingly, K. S., Lhermitte, S. & Walker, C. (2023). Foehn winds at Pine Island Glacier and their role in ice changes. The Cryosphere, 17, 3041–3062, doi:10.5194/tc-17-3041-2023.

Wille, J. D., Alexander, S., Amory, C., Baiman, R., Barthelemy, L., Bergstrom, D…. Walker, C. C., et al. (2023a). The extraordinary March 2022 East Antarctica “heat” wave. Part I: observations and meteorological drivers. Journal of Climate, 37 (3), pp.757-778. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-23-0175.1.

Wille, J. D., Alexander, S., Amory, C., Baiman, R., Barthelemy, L., Bergstrom, D…. Walker, C. C., et al. (2023b). The extraordinary March 2022 East Antarctica “heat” wave. Part II: impacts on the Antarctic ice sheet. Journal of Climate, 37 (3), pp.779-799. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-23-0176.1.

Morris, A., Lipovsky, B. P., Walker, C. C. & Marsh, O. J. (2023). Measurement of Ice Shelf Rift Width with ICESat-2 Laser Altimetry: Automation, Validation, and the behavior of Halloween Crack, Brunt Ice Shelf, East Antarctica. The Cryosphere Discussions [preprint],

Buffo, J. J., Meyer, C. R., Chivers, C. J., Walker, C. C., Huber, C. & Schmidt, B. E. (2023). Geometry of freezing impacts ice composition: Implications for icy satellites. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 128, e2022JE007389.

Walker, C. C., J. N. Bassis, J. N. and Schmidt, B. E. (2021). Propagation of vertical fractures through planetary ice shells: The role of basal fractures at the ice-ocean interface and proximal cracks. The Planetary Science Journal, Vol. 2, No. 4, doi:10.3847/PSJ/ac01ee.

Walker, C. C., Becker, M. K., & Fricker, H. A. (2021). A high resolution, three-dimensional view of the D-28 calving event from Amery Ice Shelf with ICESat-2 and satellite imagery. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2020GL091200. doi:10.1029/2020GL091200.

Buffo, J. J., Schmidt, B. E., Huber, C. & Walker, C. C. (2020). Entrainment and dynamics of ocean-derived impurities within Europa's ice shell. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 125, e2020JE006394. doi:10.1029/2020JE006394

Past Professional Experiences!

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Univ. of Maryland (2018-2024)
Vstg Research Scientist, Cryospheric Sciences Lab
Greenbelt, MD

NASA Headquarters (2019-2022)
Senior Management Fellow, Office of the Chief Scientist
Washington, DC

Caltech/NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2015-2018)
NASA Postdoctoral Fellow, Sea Level and Ice | Earth Sciences Section
Pasadena, CA (Supervisor: Alex S. Gardner)

Georgia Institute of Technology (2013-2015)
Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Atlanta, GA (Supervisor: Britney E. Schmidt)

University of Michigan (2008-2013)
Graduate Student Research Assistant, Atmospheric Oceanic & Space Sciences
Ann Arbor, MI (Advisor: Jeremy N. Bassis)

Caltech/NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2013)
JPL Graduate Research Fellow, Planetary Geophysics and Geosciences Group
Pasadena, CA

Caltech/NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2010)
JPL Graduate Research Fellow, Planetary Ices Group
Pasadena, CA

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Kitt Peak National Observatory (2008)
Summer Aerospace Workforce Development Program, Planetary Magnetospheres Lab
Greenbelt, MD/Tucson, AZ

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (2007-2008)
Academic year research intern, Optical Design and Analysis Group
Greenbelt, MD

Florida Institute of Technology/NASA Kennedy Space Life Sciences (2007)
Graduate Student Researcher, Department of Physics and Space Sciences
Melbourne, FL

The NASA Academy, Goddard Space Flight Center (2007)
Research Associate, Optical Design and Analysis Group
Greenbelt, MD

University of New Hampshire/Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans & Space - Space Science Center
Data Analyst Intern, NASA’s STEREO Mission (2006-2007)
NASA Research & Discover Intern, Space Science Center (2006)
Research Intern, NASA’s Ace and Wind missions (2005)
Durham, NH

Current and former Group Members (and All Around Fantastic Colleagues!)

Abigail Bonnington (MIT/WHOI Joint Program Student, 2024-)

Hans Chen (MIT/WHOI Joint Program Student, 2024-)

Caroline Needell (MIT/WHOI Joint Program Student, 2023-)

Galen Wilcox (MIT/WHOI Joint Program Student, 2023-)

Bailey Fluegel (MIT/WHOI Joint Program Student, 2nd generals advisee, 2022-)

Chase Chivers (WHOI Postdoctoral Scholar, 2022-2024)

Melisa Diaz (WHOI Postdoctoral Scholar, 2020-2022)

Joanna Millstein (MIT/WHOI Joint Program Student, 2nd generals advisee, 2019-2023)

Jordan McDavid (PEP Student, 2022)

Camryn Kluetmeier (Summer Student Fellow, 2021)

Zoe Screwvala (Summer Student Fellow, 2020)