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Kathryn Williamson

Research Assistant Professor


2013 Ph.D., Physics, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT

2012 Certificate in College Teaching, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT

2010 M.S., Physics, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT

2008 B.S., Physics & Astronomy, University of Georgia, Athens, GA


Kathryn Williamson joined the West Virginia University Department of Physics in January 2016 after spending three years as the Public Education Specialist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, where she engaged students and teachers in inquiry-based astronomy investigations using radio telescopes both in-person and online through the Skynet Robotic Telescope Network, Pulsar Search Collaboratory and Skynet Junior Scholars. She founded the West Virginia Science Public Outreach Team (WV SPOT) in 2013, which has since trained ~100 ambassadors to give science presentations to 20,000+ K-12 students around the state, WV Climate Action in 2019, which hosted a campus climate rally in Fall 2019, and the WV Climate Change Professional Development project in 2019, which has engaged 100+ teachers in climate change educational activities and action. In her role at WVU, she has overseen the WVU Planetarium, Departmental Lecture Demonstrations, and co-organized the 2017 Solar Eclipse outreach effort and an Hour of Code event in collaboration with WVU Extension. During the 2019-2020 academic year, she was selected as an Honors Faculty Fellow to lead a climate conversations book club, resulting in the WVU Climate Conversations podcast, as well as an “Ambassadors for Change” course, which partnered with the First2 Network to host a virtual conversation on supporting first-generation college students. She also served as the faculty advisor for the Astronomy Club and the WVU Chapter of WV SPOT. In 2021, she was named a West Virginia Wonder Woman of the year by WV Living Magazine. 


Facilitating Scientific Engagement through an Artistic-Scientific Festival, Grimberg, B. I., Williamson, K., Key, J.S., International Journal of Science Education, 2019.

Community Based Solar Eclipse Outreach in Rural Appalachia, Keesee, A. M., Williamson, K., Robertson-Honecker, J., Astronomical Society of the Pacific Eclipse Book, in press.

Mapping the Milky Way: A radio astronomy-directed investigation for large-enrollment Astro 101 college courses, Williamson, K., Reichart, D., Wallace, C., Prather, E., Hornstein, S. Robotic Telescopes, Student Research and Education Conference Proceedings, 2018, 1(1).

Skynet Junior Scholars: Authentic Astronomy for All, Including Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students , Gartner, C., Meredith, K., Williamson, K., Science Scope, March 2017, 40(7), 57-63.

Skynet Junior Scholars: Professional Development to Support STEM Exploration in a Variety of Settings, Williamson, K., Heatherly, S.A., Hoette, V., Toth, E. E., Beer, D. Connected Science Learning, December 2016.

Applicability of the Newtonian Gravity Concept Inventory to College Physics, Williamson, K., Prather, E. E., and Willoughby, S., American Journal of Physics Special Topics – Physics Education Research, 2016, 84(6), 458-466.

Touching the Stars: Making Astronomy Accessible for Students with Visual Impairments, Childers, G., Jones, G., Williamson, K., Science Scope, Summer 2015, 38(9), 20-26.

The Space Public Outreach Team: Adapting a Successful Outreach Programme to a New Region , Williamson, K., Des Jardins, A., Grimberg, I., Larson, S. L., Key, J., Larson, M.B., Heatherly, S.A., McKenzie, D., Littenberg, T.B., Communicating Astronomy with the Public, Issue 16, December 2014.

Development of the Newtonian Gravity Concept Inventory, Williamson, K.,Willoughby, S., and Prather, E. E., Astronomy Education Review, 2013, DOI: 10.3847/AER2012045.

Student Understanding of Gravity in Introductory College Astronomy, Williamson, K. and Willoughby, S., Astronomy Education Review, 2012, DOI: 10.3847/AER2011025.