Christopher W. Hamilton

Dr. Hamilton is planetary volcanologist specializing in magma–water interactions and Solar System exploration. His research combines field-based observations, remote sensing, machine learning, and geophysical modeling to investigate geological surface process, planetary climate, and habitability.

Major Project Leadership: The "RAVEN: Rover–Aerial Vehicle Exploration Network", NASA Planetary Science and Technology Through Analog Research (PSTAR), Principal Investigator. RAVEN will develop and field-test new robotic rover and unmanned aircraft systems technology for future Mars exploration.

Current Spacecraft Involvement: The "Io Volcano Observer (IVO)", NASA Discovery Program (Phase A), Co-Investigator. IVO is a new satellite mission concept that would investigate volcanism and tidal heating within Jupiter's moon Io.

Research Highlights: Hamilton et al. (2020), "Lava‐Rise Plateaus and Inflation Pits in the McCartys Lava Flow Field, New Mexico: An Analog for Pāhoehoe‐Like Lava Flows on Planetary Surfaces", Journal of Geophysical Research—Planets, 125(7), E2019JE005975,

Active Affiliations:

2014–Present: Associate Professor (since 2020), Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL), University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA

2015–Present: Assistant Professor (since 2020), Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA

2018–Present: Adjunct Associate Professor, Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY, USA

2019–Present: Adjunct Professor, Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland (Háskóli Íslands), Reykjavík, Iceland

Fields of Interest

Earth and Planetary Sciences, Geologic Surface Processes, Space Exploration


  • 2010 – Ph.D., Geology & Geophysics, University of Hawai‘i, USA
  • 2004 – B.Sc., Earth Sciences, Dalhousie University, Canada

Honors & Awards

  • 2020 – Fulbright U.S. Scholar
  • 2020 – Scialog Fellow in Astrobiology
  • 2018 – Science News "Top 10 Scientists to Watch" 2018 – Geological Society of America Early Career Award
  • 2018 – NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Faculty Fellowship
  • 2015 – NASA Early Career Fellowship
  • 2011 – NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellowship
  • 2010 – University of Hawai‘i Doctoral Research Achievement Award
  • 2005 – Geological Association of Canada's Best Undergraduate Thesis Award
  • 2004 – Canadian National Sciences and Engineering Research Council Scholarship