Laszlo Kestay, Ph.D.


Laszlo Kestay is a planetary volcanologist working for the US Geological Survey's Astrogeology Science Center. His last name was formerly Keszthelyi and this spelling is still used for his publications. He has worked for the USGS since 1991 but was only hired in 2003. He is member of the NASA MRO HiRISE and ESA ExoMars CaSSIS science teams.  



The University of Texas at Austin

1987                B.S., MathematicsSumma Cum Laude

1988                B.S. with Honors, Geological Sciences (Geophysics Option), Summa Cum Laude


California Institute of Technology

1993                M.S., Planetary Science

1994                Ph.D., Geology, Thesis: On the Thermal Budget of Pahoehoe Lava Flows,                                                      Advisor: Bruce C. Murray


NSF Earth Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow

1994-1996       University of Hawaii at Manoa and U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.                             Supervisor: Stephen Self



2003-present   Research Geologist Astrogeology Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey.  Studying volcanism across the Solar System with remote sensing, numerical modeling, and field studies. Involved in assessing natural resources across the Solar System and the hazards posed by meteorite impacts.

2012-2018       Science Center Director Astrogeology Science Center U.S. Geological Survey.  Manage the science center as it enables humankind's exploration of the Solar System with support for space missions from conception to beyond the grave.  

2011                Associate Science Center Director for Technical Operations Astrogeology Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey.  Overseeing the technical activities (cartography, software development, computer science, data archival, etc.) in the Astrogeology Science Center with a focus on managing the varied portfolio of NASA-funded projects. 

2004-2007       Assistant Team Chief Scientist for Science Astrogeology Program, U.S. Geological Survey.  Assisting the Team Chief Scientist in the program’s scientific endeavors. 

2001-2003       Senior Research Associate Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona.  Worked to use volcanism to probe the interiors of Io and Mars. 

1996-2001       Research Associate Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona.  Worked with the Galileo SSI camera to study the active volcanism on Jupiter’s moon, Io. Also examined volcanic features seen in the Mars Global Surveyor data. 

1998-1999       Physical Volcanologist Ocean Drilling Project, Leg 183.  Examined drill cores and downhole logging data from Kerguelen Plateau flood lavas.   

1996-2002       Associate Researcher School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai’i.  Worked on the emplacement of the Columbia River Basalts as inflated pahoehoe sheet flows.  Also studied the crystallization, cooling, and hardening of basalt on Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii. 

1991-1999       Guest Investigator U. S. Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.  Assisted the staff in monitoring the >35-year-long Kilauea eruption.  Specialized in collecting in situ field data on the dynamics and cooling of lava flows.