William B. McKinnon is a Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences and a member of the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences at Washington University in Saint Louis. He received his S.B. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from MIT in 1976 and his Ph.D in Planetary Science and Geophysics from Caltech in 1981. He was a postdoctoral associate at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona and joined the faculty at Washington University in 1982. For the Academies McKinnon served twice on the Committee on Lunar and Planetary Exploration (COMPLEX), on the Committee on Priorities for Space Science Enabled by Nuclear Power and Propulsion, and most recently was co-chair of the Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science (CAPS) and on the Steering Committee of the Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey. He is a past Chair of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society and past-President of the Planetary Sciences section of the American Geophysical Union, a Fellow of the AAAS, Geological Society of America, and American Geophysical Union, and was an editor of Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Awards include the G.K. Gilbert Award from the Planetary Geology Division of the GSA.

Research Interests

Prof. McKinnon’s research focuses on the structure, origin, evolution, tectonics, and bombardment histories of outer planet satellites and Kuiper belt objects, and fundamentals of impact cratering throughout the solar system. This includes understanding the relative importance of large impacts, orbital dynamics, and internal processes for tectonics and other surface modifications, the origin and evolution of impactor populations, and the cratering mechanics in ice and other targets. He is particularly interested in extending geological and geophysical perspectives to worlds where ices are the major constituents. He is a science team member with NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper belt, the RIME radar sounder on ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, and a co-Investigator with the REASON radar, MASPEX mass spectrometer, and Gravity/Radio Science experiments on NASA’s Europa Clipper.

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Primary Section

Section 16: Geophysics

Secondary Section

Section 12: Astronomy