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Dr. Kayla Iacovino grew up a Star Trek fan. She watched “The Next Generation” series with her family, went to conventions with friends and found inspiration in its theme of exploration – as a frontier and of human nature itself.

As an Experimental Petrologist and Volcanologist, her explorations have taken her to the southern most active volcano in the world, the Erebus volcano in Antarctica and even the world’s largest lava lake at Mount Nyiragongo in South Africa.

Most days, you’ll find Kayla at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where she works as part of Jacobs’ team in the Experimental Petrology lab.

Volcanoes shape our lives, whether or not we realize it. And, Kayla and the team at use a combination of fieldwork, laboratory experiments and thermodynamic modeling to better understand the inner workings of crustal volcanic systems, and when and why catastrophic eruptions occur.

Explore more about Kayla on her website.

There are so many reasons that a volcano might impact a person. Even if they’re not near a volcano, like in the middle of Iowa, they might be impacted indirectly in a number of ways if there’s a big eruption that disrupts global trade routes. It might be something as small as an increase in the price of a product that they buy because it’s coming from overseas, or a food item that they can’t get because that year the crop was decimated by an eruption.

Kayla Iacovino, PhD
Jacobs Experimental Petrologist and Volcanologist at NASA Johnson Space Center

10+

volcanoes studied

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publications and presentations delivered to date

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documentary appearances (and counting!)

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episodes of Star Trek watched

Breakthrough: The Volcano Trekker

Follow Kayla along on a journey inside of a volcano in Costa Rica and all the way back to Johnson Space Center in a recent episode of “Breakthrough: Portraits of Women in Science,” a new NPR documentary series that profiles scientists and how their lives and work intersect.

In her episode, “The Volcano Trekker,” Kayla explains how gases and crystals released by volcanoes provide important clues into why volcanoes erupt.

She earned her PhD in volcanology and experimental petrology from the University of Cambridge and bachelor of science in geological sciences at Arizona State University. In addition to “Breakthrough,” Kayla has appeared in several other documentary series.

Featured Content from Kayla

Documentary Work

NPR Science FRIDAY: Breakthrough: Portraits of Women in Science

BBC/PBS NOVA: Expedition: Volcano

Deep Carbon Observatory: Biology Meets Subduction

National Geographic: Pompeii: Secrets of the Dead

PBS NOVA: Polar Extremes

Web Videos

Science at the Survey: Watch

Public Outreach Events

What Controls A Volcano's Eruptive Style?: Watch