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Dr. Rosa Williams - Columbus State University

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Columbus State University

headshot of Rosa Williams, Ph.D.

Rosa Williams, Ph.D.


Coca-Cola Space Science Center


Earth and Space Sciences, Department of

Jordan Hall 202

Astronomy, Education - Higher Education, Space Exploration, Teaching

Education and Certifications

  • B.S., Physics, University of Texas at Austin, 1990
  • M.S., Astronomy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1994
  • Ph.D., Astronomy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1999


Dr. Rosa Williams is a Professor of Astronomy at Columbus State University, where she has taught since 2007. Her research specialty is the study of supernova remnants - the diffuse remains of exploded stars.

She is also the Observatory Director for the Coca-Cola Space Science Center's WestRock Observatory, where she oversees the use of the observatory for student experiential learning and research.

• Nominated for Faculty Mentorship Award in Research and Creative Endeavors 2020, 2022
• Proposal Award Recognition, 2021
• Nominated for Educator of the Year Award, 2020, 2013

Prior to joining CSU, Dr. Williams held positions as a Research Scientist and Instructor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2003-2007), a Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (2001-2003), and an NRC Postdoctoral Fellow at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. From 1991-1999 she was variously a Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, and Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Illinois. From 1987-1990 she was employed as a Scientific Programmer at Computer Sciences Corporation.

Dr. Williams maintains an active research program, keeping up productive collaborations with scientists at other institutions. These have resulted in authorship or co-authorship on a number of publications and presentations. Due to her familiarity with this particular sub-field of astronomy, she has been asked to give “invited review” lectures, review journal articles, serve on proposal review committees, and similar professional activities.

Academic Areas

  • Astronomy and astrophysics, with specialization in the diffuse interstellar medium
  • Science Communication and Public Outreach, particularly in astronomy
  • Research into best practices in Astronomy Education and Astronomy Outreach

Research Interests

  • Supernova remnants (hot gas and heavy elements produced by supernova explosions) in X-ray and optical wavelengths
  • Evolution of the interstellar medium in the Large and Small Magellanic Cloud satellite galaxies, particularly their populations of supernova remnants
  • Thesis: "Supernova Remnants in the Large Magellanic Cloud"

Professional Experience

As Director of the WestRock Observatory, Dr. Williams is responsible for high-impact practices (hands-on, experiential learning) for CSU students using the astronomical equipment of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center. She also is responsible for outreach activities to the general public, as well as to area schools. Regular events include over 20 public "Astronomy Nights" each year; tours of the Observatory; science demonstrations for public school students; online webcasting of astronomical events; and other talks and programs to the community and news organizations.

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