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Karen Willacy

Photo of Karen Willacy


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 169-506

Pasadena, CA 91109





Member of:

Interstellar and Heliospheric Physics


  • B.Sc. (Hons) Physics, University of Durham (1988)
  • M.Sc. Radioastronomy, University of Manchester (1990)
  • Ph.D. Astrophysics, Universtiy of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (1993)

Professional Experience

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1998-Present)
    • Research Scientist(2000-Present)
    • National Research Council Resident Research Associate (1998-1999)
  • UMIST, Postdoctoral research associate (1995-1998)
  • University of Edinburgh, Postdoctoral research associate, (1993-1995)
  • Logica Energy and Industry Systems Ltd, Computer programmer (1988-1989)

Research Interests

  • Chemistry of the interstellar medium, including prestellar cores, protoplanetary disks and circumstellar envelopes around late-type stars
  • Formation and evolution of pre-biotic molecules
  • Gas/grain interactions in the interstellar medium
  • Deuterium chemistry

Selected Awards

  • NASA Group Achievement Award SIM Science Office Team (2011)
  • National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship (1998-1999)
  • Fellow of Royal Astronomical Society
  • Member of American Astronomical Society

Selected Publications

  1. Chapman, J. W., Zellem, R. T., Line, M. R., Vasisht, G., Bryden, G., Willacy, K., Iyer, A.R., Bean, J., et al. (2017) Quantifying the Impact of Spectral Coverage on the Retrieval of Molecular Abundances from Exoplanet Transmission Spectra, PASP, 129, 4402
  2. Willacy, K., Allen, M. A., Yung, Y. (2016) A new astrobiological model of the atmosphere of Titan, ApJ, 829, 79
  3. Tritsis, A., Tassis, K. Willacy, K. (2016) Chemistry as a diagnostic of prestellar core geometry, MNRAS, 458, 789
  4. Willacy, K., Alexander, C., Ali-Dib, M., Ceccarelli, C., Charnley, S. B., Doronin, M., Ellinger, Y., Gast, P., Gibb, E., Milam, S. N., Mousis, O., Pauzat, F., Tornow, C., Wirstrom, E. & Zickler, E. (2015) Composition of the protosolar disk and the formation conditions for comets, Space Sci. Rev. 197, 151
  5. Mandt, K., Mousis, O., Marty, B., Cavelie, T., Harris, W., Hartogh, P., Willacy, K. & Gautier, D. (2015) Constraints from comets on the formation and volatile acquisition of the planets and satellites, Space Sci. Rev. 197, 297
  6. Langer, W.D., Velusamy, T., Pineda, J. L., Willacy, K. & Goldsmith, P F. (2014) A Herschel [CII] Galactic plane survey II. CO-dark H2 in clouds A&A, 561, L122
  7. Tassis, K., Willacy, K., Yorke, H. W. & Turner, N. J. (2012) Non-equilibrium chemistry of dynamically evolving prestellar cores I. Basic magnetic and non-magnetic models and parameter studies ApJ 753 29
  8. Bell, T. A., Willacy, K., Phillips, T. G. & Allen, A. (2011) The influence of deuteration and turbulence diffusion on the observed D/H ratio, ApJ 731 48
  9. Willacy, K. & Woods, P. (2009) Deuterium chemistry in protoplantary disks. II. The inner disk, ApJ, 703, 479
  10. Dodson-Robinson, S., Willacy, K., Bodenheimer, P., Laughlin, G., Turner, N. & Beichman, C. (2009) Ice lines, planetesimal composition and solid surface density in the solar nebula, Icarus, 200, 672
  11. Maret, S., Bergin, E., Neufeld, D., Green, J., Watson, D., Harwit, M., Kristensen, L., Melnick, G., Sonnentrucker, P., Tolls, V., Werner, M. & Willacy, K. (2009) Spitzer mapping o molecular hydrogen pure rotational lines in NGC 1333, ApJ, 698, 1244
  12. Woods, P. & Willacy, K. (2009) Carbon isotope fractionation in protoplanetary disks ApJ, 693, 1360
  13. Robinson, S., Bodenheimer, P., Laughlin, G., Willacy, K., Turner, N., & Beichman, C. (2008) Saturn forms by core-accretion in 3.37 Myrs, ApJ Letters, 688, L99
  14. Deutsch, M., Abilleira, F., Bell, D., Chodas, J., Harmon, C., Kerridge, S., Kinsey, R., Komarek, T., Lisman, D., Lopez, S., Riedel, E., Willacy, K. & Winterhalter, D. (2008) The Mars Science Orbiter Concept, IEEE conference paper
  15. Willacy, K. (2007) Deuterium chemistry in protoplanetary disks I. Outer disk models ApJ 660 441
  16. Woods, P. & Willacy, K. (2007) Benzene formation in the inner regions of protostellar disks ApJ 655 L49
  17. Willacy, K., Langer, W. D, Allen, M. & Bryden, G. (2006) Chemical effects of turbulent mixing in protoplanetary disks ApJ 644 1202
  18. Willacy, K. (2004) A chemical route to the formation of water in carbon-rich AGB stars – Fischer-Tropsch catalysis, ApJ 600 L87
  19. Willacy, K., Langer, W. D. & Allen, M. A. (2002) HI: A chemical tracer of turbulent diffusion in molecular clouds, ApJ 573 L119
  20. Willacy, K. & Langer, W. D. (2000) The importance of photoprocessing in protoplanetary disks, ApJ 544 903
  21. Willacy, K., Langer, W. D. & Velusamy, T. (1998) Dust emission and molecular depletion in L1498, ApJL 507 L17
  22. Willacy, K. & Millar, T. J. (1998) Desorption processes and the deuterium fractionation in molecular clouds, MNRAS 298 562
  23. Willacy K. & Cherchneff, I. (1998) Silicon and sulphur chemistry in the inner wind of IRC+10216, A&A 330 676
  24. Willacy, K. & Millar, T. J. (1997) Carbon chemistry in oxygen-rich circumstellar envelopes, A&A 324 237
  25. Willacy, K., Rawlings, J. M. C. & Williams, D. A. (1994) Molecular desorption from dust in star forming regions, MNRAS 269 921