Melissa Rice, PhD

She/Her/Hers, Professor


Dr. Melissa Rice is an Associate Professor of Planetary Science at Western Washington University, where she has held a joint appointment in the Geology Department and the Physics & Astronomy Department since 2014. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Astronomy at Cornell University in 2012, and was a NASA Astrobiology Institute Postdoctoral fellow at Caltech from 2012-2014. Her research focuses on the sedimentology, stratigraphy and mineralogy of Mars. She is a collaborator on the active Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity missions, a Participating Scientist on the Mars Science Laboratory rover mission, and a Co-Investigator for the Mastcam-Z investigation in development for the Mars2020 rover mission.

Educational & Professional Experience:

Ph.D. - Cornell University (2012)

B.A. - Wellesley College (2005)

Areas of Expertise

Planetary geology; remote sensing; robotic space exploration

Courses Taught

  • GEOL 211: Physical Geology
  • GEOL 445/545: Planetary Geology
  • GEOL 497H/597H: Remote Sensing of Earth and Planetary Surfaces
  • GEOL 497K/597K: Science Communication (cross-listed with PHYS 497: Science Communication)
  • ASTR 113: Stars, Moons and Planets
  • ASTR 315: The Solar System
  • HNRS 101: The Big Picture (co-taught with professors across the university)
  • ASTR 497: Classic Papers in Planetary Astrophysics (coming in Winter 2019!)

Research Advising Category