Dr. David A. Williams is a Research Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University (ASU), Tempe, Arizona. Dr. Williams is the Director of the Ronald Greeley Center for Planetary Studies, the NASA planetary data center at ASU. He is also the Director of the NASA Planetary Aeolian Laboratory at the Ames Research Center in California. David currently performs research in volcanology and planetary geology, with a focus on planetary mapping, geochemical, and remote sensing studies. His research has included computer modeling of seismic wave propagation through planetary interiors, visible and near-infrared spectroscopy of the lunar surface, planetary geologic mapping of the satellites of Jupiter, Mars, Titan, Vesta and Ceres, computer modeling of the physical and geochemical evolution of lava flows in a variety of planetary environments, and petrologic study of lava samples from Mount St Helens. He was a student affiliate with NASA’s Magellan Mission to Venus and a postdoctoral research associate with NASA’s Galileo Mission at Jupiter. He is currently a Co-Investigator on the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) experiment on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter mission, and was a Co-Investigator on NASA’s Dawn Mission at dwarf planet Ceres. David was the 2010-2011 Chair of the Planetary Geology Division of the Geological Society of America, has served on several NASA committees including the 2007 Jovian System Observer Science Definition Team, and served a 5-year term (2008-2013) as a steering committee member of the NASA Outer Planets Assessment Group. In 2014 he was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, and the International Astronomical Union named asteroid 10,461Dawilliams in his honor.
David received his Bachelor of Science in Astronomy & Astrophysics from Indiana University in 1989, and his Master of Science in Geology from Arizona State University in 1992, where he conducted the first multispectral studies of western limb and eastern far side lunar mare deposits using data from the NASA’s Galileo Earth-Moon Flyby 1. He received his Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Alabama in August 1998, where he was a three-time Graduate Council Research Fellow and received the award for Outstanding Research by a Doctoral Student from the University of Alabama Graduate College in 1998.
Upon completion of his Ph.D. studying terrestrial komatiites (high-temperature, ultramafic lava flows), David was asked to return to ASU by Regents Professor Ronald Greeley and assist with Galileo imaging studies of the Jovian satellites, particularly Io. His Io studies eventually led to the publication of the first complete global geologic map of Io in 2011 by the US Geological Survey. After Galileo, David was promoted to Faculty Research Associate at ASU and asked by Dr. Greeley to lead their efforts on HRSC on Mars Express, which he continues to this day. In 2009 David was selected to be a Participating Scientist of NASA’s Dawn Mission at Vesta, and upon Dr. Greeley’s untimely death (2011) David was selected by NASA in 2012 to succeed Greeley as Director of the ASU NASA Regional Planetary Image Facility to 2020, and NASA’s Planetary Aeolian Laboratory. He was promoted to Associate Research Professor in 2012, and promoted to full Research Professor in 2020.