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Laura Kerber

Photo of Laura Kerber


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 183-601 Pasadena, CA 91109


(818) 354-5967

Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Planetary Geosciences


Laura Kerber is a research scientist at JPL with interests in physical volcanology, aeolian geomorphology, wind over complex surfaces, the ancient Martian climate, the role of sulfur in planetary atmospheres, and extraterrestrial cave environments. Laura holds two Masters Degrees, in Geology and Engineering (Fluid Mechanics), and a PhD in Geology from Brown University. She enjoys combining remote sensing, field work, and modeling, and working on the interface between the surface geology and the atmosphere. She is the Deputy Project Scientist of Mars Odyssey and the Principal Investigator of a Discovery mission concept called Moon Diver, which aims to send an extreme terrain rover to explore deep caverns on the Moon in order to understand the Solar System’s largest volcanic eruptions.


  • PhD, Geological Sciences, Brown University (2011)
  • SciM, Engineering (Fluid Mechanics), Brown University (2011)
  • SciM, Geological Sciences, Brown University (2008)
  • BA, Geology, Pomona College (2006)

Professional Experience

  • Deputy Project Scientist, 2001 Mars Odyssey (2017-present)
  • JPL Research Scientist (2014-present)
  • SETI Institute, Principal Investigator (2013-2014)
  • Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, Postdoctoral Researcher (2011-2014)
  • Brown University, Graduate Research Assistant (2006-2011)
  • Universität Bremen, Summer Research Intern (2006)

Community Service

Reviewer for Icarus, GRL, Science, JGR, Journal of Aeolian Research; Panel Member, ROSES; Session Convener, AGU; Guest Editor, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research

Research Interests

Physical Volcanology, Flood Volcanism, Explosive Volcanism, Pyroclastic Deposits on Mercury and the Moon, Aeolian Geomorphology, Yardangs, Transverse Aeolian Ridges, the Boundary Layer, Wind Over Complex Surfaces, Aerodynamic Surface Roughness, the Ancient Martian Climate, the Role of Sulfur in Planetary Atmospheres, Extraterrestrial Cave Environments.

Selected Awards

  • NASA Graduate Student Research Fellowship (2009, 2010)
  • Mason L. Hill Memorial Award in Geology (2006)

Selected Publications

  1. Kerber, L., Dickson, J.L., Head, J.W., Grosfils, E.B. (2017) Polygonal ridge networks on Mars: Diversity of morphologies and the special case of the Eastern Medusae Fossae Formation. Icarus 281, 200-219.
  2. Whelley, P.L., Kerber, L., de Silva, S. (2017) Preface to the special issue of JVGR, Pattern to Process: Remotely Sensed Observations of Volcanic Deposits and Their Implications for Surface Processes. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 342, 1-2.
  3. BL Ehlmann et al. (2016) The sustainability of habitability on terrestrial planets: Insights, questions, and needed measurements from Mars for understanding the evolution of Earth-like worlds. Journal of Geophysical Research 121, 1927-1961.
  4. Weider, S.Z., Nittler, L.R., Murchie, S.L., Peplowski, P.N., McCoy, T.J., Kerber, L., et al. (2016) Evidence from MESSENGER for sulfur- and carbon-driven explosive volcanism on Mercury. Geophysical Research Letters 43, 3653-3661.
  5. Kerber, L., Forget, F., Wordsworth, R. (2015) Sulfur in the early Martian atmosphere revisited: Experiments with a 3-D Global Climate Model. Icarus 261, 133-148.
  6. Wordsworth, R.D., Kerber, L., Pierrehumbert, R.T., Forget, F., Head, J.W. (2015) Comparison of “warm and wet” and “cold and icy” scenarios for early Mars in a 3-D climate model. Journal of Geophysical Research 120, 1201-1219.
  7. Goudge, T.A., Head, J.W., Kerber, L., Blewett, D.T., Denevi, B.W., Domingue, D.L., Gillis-Davis, J.J., Gwinner, K., Helbert, J., Holsclaw, G.M., Izenberg, N.R., Klima, R.L., McClintock, W.E., Murchie, S.L., Neumann, G.A., Smith, D.E., Strom, R.G., Xiao, Z., Zuber, M.T., Solomon, S.C. (2014) Global inventory and characterization of pyroclastic deposits on Mercury: New insights into pyroclastic activity from MESSENGER orbital data. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.
  8. Rothery, D.A., Thomas, R., Kerber, L. (2014) Prolonged eruptive history of a compound volcano on Mercury: volcanic and tectonic implications. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 385, 59-67.
  9. Craddock, J.P., Rainbird, R.H., Davis, W.J., Davidson, C., Vervoot, J.D., Konstantinou, A., Boerboom, T., Vorhies, S., Kerber, L., Lundquist, B. (2013) Detrital zircon geochronology and provenance of the Paleoproterozoic Huron (∼ 2.4–2.2 Ga) and Animikie (∼ 2.2–1.8 Ga) basins, southern Superior Province, Journal of Geology 121, 623-644.
  10. Kerber, L., Forget, F., Madeleine, J-.B., Wordsworth, R., Head, J.W., Wilson, L. (2013) The effect of atmospheric pressure on the dispersal of pyroclasts from Martian volcanoes. Icarus 223, 149-156.
  11. Forget, F., Wordsworth, R., Millour, E., Madeleine, J.B., Kerber, L., Leconte, J., Marcq, E., Haberle, R.M. (2013) 3D modeling of the early Martian climate under a dense CO2 atmosphere: Temperatures and CO2 ice clouds. Icarus 222, 81-99.
  12. Kerber, L., Head, J.W., Madeleine, J-.B., Forget, F., Wilson, L. (2012) The dispersal of pyroclasts from ancient explosive volcanoes on Mars: Implications for the friable layered deposits. Icarus 219, 358-381.
  13. Kerber, L. and Head, J.W. (2012) A progression of induration in Medusae Fossae Formation transverse aeolian ridges: evidence for ancient aeolian bedforms and extensive reworking. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 37 422-433.
  14. Kerber, L., Head, J.W., Madeleine, J-.B., Forget, F., Wilson, L. (2011) The dispersal of pyroclasts from Apollinaris Patera, Mars: Implications for the origin of the Medusae Fossae Formation. Icarus 216, 212-220.
  15. Head, J.W., Chapman, C.R., Strom, R.G., Fassett, C.I., Denevi, B.W., Blewett, D.T., Ernst, C.M., Watters, T.R., Solomon, S.C., Murchie, S.L., Prockter, L.M., Chabot, N.L., Gillis-Davis, J.J., Whitten, J.L., Goudge, T.A., Baker, D.M.H., Hurwitz, D.M., Ostrach, L.R., Xiao, Z., Merline, W.J., Kerber, L., Dickson, J. (2011) Flood Volcanism in the Northern High Latitudes of Mercury Revealed by MESSENGER. Science 333, 1853-1856.
  16. Kerber, L.,  Head, J.W., Blewett, D.T., Solomon, S.C., Wilson, L., Murchie, S.L., Robinson, M.S., Denevi, B.W., Domingue, D.L. (2010) The Global Distribution of Pyroclastic Deposits on Mercury: The View from MESSENGER Flybys 1-3. Planetary and Space Science 59, 1895-1909.
  17. Kerber, L., Head, J.W. (2010) The Age of the Medusae Fossae Formation: Evidence of Hesperian Emplacement from Crater Morphology, Stratigraphy, and Ancient Lava Contacts. Icarus 206, 669-684.
  18. Kerber, L., Head, J.W., Solomon, S.C., Blewett, D.T., Wilson, L., Murchie, S.L. (2009) Explosive Volcanic Eruptions on Mercury: Eruption Conditions, Magma Volatile Content, and Implications for Mantle Volatile Abundances. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 285, 263-271 (featured in Nature 459, Iss. 7248, Research Highlights).
  19. Head, J.W., Murchie, S.L., Prockter, L.M., Solomon, S.C., Chapman, C.R. Strom, R.G., Watters, T.R., Blewett, D.T., Gillis-Davis, J.J., Fassett, C.I., Dickson, J.L., Morgan, G.A., Kerber, L. (2009) Volcanism on Mercury: Evidence from the first MESSENGER flyby for extrusive and explosive activity and the volcanic origin of plains. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 285, 227-242.
  20. Penprase, B.E., Berger, E., Fox, D.B., Kulkarni, S.R., Kadish, S., Kerber, L., Ofek, E., Kasliwal, M., Hill, G., Schaefer, B., Reed, M. (2006) Spectroscopy of GRB 051111 at z=1.54948: Kinematics and Elemental Abundances of the GRB Environment and Host Galaxy. The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 646 Iss. 1 pg 35.