Cathy Olkin (@colkin) is a planetary scientist at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, CO. Her main topic of research is the outer solar system, specifically planetary atmospheres and surfaces. She is the Deputy Project Scientist for NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. The New Horizons mission provided the first close-up images of Pluto and its moons in 2015. It is currently en route to encounter a close classical Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule. She is also the Deputy Principal Investigator for NASA’s Lucy mission. The Lucy mission will be the first spacecraft to visit the Trojan asteroids. Cathy also carries out ground-based observations including stellar occultations to learn about the size and atmosphere of small worlds and is the current Chair of the Division for Planetary Science of the American Astronomical Society.
In her free time, Cathy mentors FIRST robotics programs providing hands-on STEM education for students from 4th grade to 12th grade.