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Dr. Rebecca Williams

Senior Scientist

Currently resides in Waunakee, WI
williams [at]
Areas of Expertise
Earth, Mars | Mars Odyssey, MRO, MSL | Remote sensing, Geology, Geomorphology, Ground-based observing, Mapping

Research Interests

The unifying objective of Dr. Becky Williams’ research is unraveling the history of water on Mars through qualitative and quantitative characterization of landforms using image and topographic datasets. Her investigations of martian geomorphology principally center on landscape evolution by surface runoff. These studies seek to constrain the relative timing, duration, and magnitude of fluvial processes on Mars. Individual projects have examined these questions for large-scale features (outflow channels and valley networks) as well as small-scale landforms (sub-kilometer fans and recently recognized inverted channel networks). Her research builds upon field observations of terrestrial analogs to enhance the interpretation of remotely sensed data from Mars. 

Dr. Williams is involved in the investigation of unique fans observed within Mojave Crater, as seen in high-resolution Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) images. Their unique occurrence has led to speculation that the formation of these landforms was related to the impact event that formed Mojave Crater. Dr. Williams is also investigating Martian inverted ridge networks, which are interpreted to be the former courses of streams that have been buried and exhumed resulting in the present day inverted topography surface expression. The drainage density of these ridge networks is an order of magnitude higher than typical martian valley networks and suggests long-lived surface runoff and supports formation via precipitation. she is also involved in the study of the late-stage flow history of Kasei Velles on Mars. Within the southern branch of Kasei Valles are two inner channels that document the late-stage flow history of the largest outflow channel on Mars. Associated with these channels is a 'platy' meter-scale texture, perhaps a mudflow deposit related to waning floodwaters moving through the inner channels.

Professional History

Dr. Williams received her PhD in Planetary Sciences in 2000 from Washington University where she studied martian outflow channels and valley network morphology using Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) data. She was a Lindbergh Fellow at the Smithsonian's Center for Earth and Planetary Science at the National Air and Space Museum. She joined PSI in 2005.

Honors and Awards

NASA Early Career Fellow

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