Katie obtained her B.S. in Chemistry with a minor in Physics from Kennesaw State University. During her undergraduate career, she worked for Dr. Heather Abbott-Lyon under the Center for Chemical Evolution on multiple projects: 1) analysis of the solid-gas interface of a meteorite analog and volatile prebiotic molecules in space-like conditions; 2) analysis of the solid-liquid interface of a meteorite analog and various prebiotically relevant solutions; and 3) characterization of phosphite salts and their reactivity with simple prebiotic molecules. These projects were related in that they attempted to solve the “phosphorus question”: how did phosphorus become integrated in prebiotic molecules on the early Earth? In addition, she completed a theoretical biochemical project advised by Dr. John Haseltine in which she identified long-range orbital alignments in crystallographic images of enzymes and considered their mechanistic implications.
Since joining Dr. Bennett’s lab in Fall 2019, she has started working on multiple projects, including the calculation of optical constants and A-values of ices relevant to the interstellar medium, measuring electron-sputtering yields off icy surfaces, and the effects of space weathering on airless body regoliths. Her primary research interests are origins of life and astrobiology, meteoritics, and chemical evolution in the cosmic environment. Her strongest instrumental skills include UHV chamber and equipment operation, a variety of IR spectroscopic techniques such as RAIRS, PM-IRRAS, and ATR, 1H and 31P NMR, mass spectroscopic techniques including QMS/TPD and LCMS, TGA, and SEM/EDX.