After receiving his doctoral degree, Burns joined the Cornell faculty and then spent a year as a postdoctoral researcher at the Goddard Space Flight Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Subsequently, he has spent sabbatical leaves at NASA's Ames Research Center (1975-76, 1982-83), at the University of California at Berkeley (1982-83), the University of Arizona (1989-90), and at the University of British Columbia (2012); on other leaves he has been an exchange fellow in the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia (1973) and at the Observatory of Paris (1979, 1984). More recent leaves have been at the Kavli Institute, University of California at Santa Barbara (spring 2008) and the Newton Institute at the University of Cambridge (fall 2009). He is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an honorary fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a member of the International Academy of Astronautics, and a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Between 1978 and 1997 he edited Icarus: The International Journal of Solar System Studies. He now is Associate Editor of it, and is on the Board of Reviewing Editors at Science magazine. He is also a member of the imaging teams on the Cassini (Saturn) and Rosetta (Comet) missions. Burns was Cornell's Vice Provost for Physical Sciences and Engineering from 2003-2007. He is currently Dean of the University Faculty (2012-2015).
Planetary science and physical celestial mechanics. (2012-2015).
- Hedman, M M., Joseph Arthur Burns, M W Evans. 2011. "Saturns curiously corrugated C ring." Science 332: 708-711.
- Tiscareno, Matthew S., Joseph Arthur Burns, Matthew M. Hedman, Michael W Evans. 2010. "Physical characteristics and non-Keplerian orbital motion of "propeller" moons embedded in Saturn's rings." Astrophysical Journal Letters 718: L92-L95.
- Burns, Joseph Arthur. 2010. "The Four Hundred Years of Planetary Science Since Galileo and Kepler." Nature 466: 575-585.
- Cuzzi, Jeffrey N., Joseph Arthur Burns. 2010. "An evolving view of Saturn's dynamic rings." Science 327: 1470-1475.
- Burns, J A., P L. Lamy, S Soter. 2014. "Radiation forces on small particles in the Solar System: A re-consideration." Icarus 232: 263-265.
Selected Awards and Honors
- Full Member (International Academy of Astronautics) 1998
- Fellow (American Association for Advancement of Science) 1997
- Brouwer Prize, Division on Dynamical Astronomy (American Astronomical Society) 2013
- Elected Foreign Member (Russian Academy of Sciences) 1995
- Masursky Award (Division of Planetary Sciences, American Astronomical Society) 1994
- B.S. (Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering), Webb Institute of Naval Architecture, 1962
- Ph.D. (Theoretical and Applied Mechanics), Cornell University, 1966
- D.Sci. (honorary) (Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering), Webb Institute of Naval Architecture, 2011