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Kathryn Williamson

Teaching Associate 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.

At WVU she teaches Descriptive Astronomy and oversees the  Planetarium, Lecture Demonstrations, and Astronomy Outreach activities. She is the faculty advisor for the WVU Astronomy Club and the WVU Chapter of the  West Virginia Science Public Outreach Team (SPOT), which trains undergraduates to deliver interactive science-themed presentations and hands-on activities to schools across the state.

Her doctorate degree is from Montana State University, and her dissertation was on college students’ understanding of gravity. Her current area of research focuses on how youth in out-of-school-time science clubs, such as the  Pulsar Search Collaboratory and  Skynet Junior Scholars, learn to see themselves as scientists and choose to pursue careers in science.


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.