POC: Charles K. Gatebe, Phone: 301-614-6228, Email:

Maniac Talks are about what inspired people to do what they are doing now in their career. It's about their driving forces and motivators and what keeps them going. It's about how they overcome obstacles. The format of the talks is informal and discussion is encouraged. All talks are recorded/taped and archived at GSFC Library. The talks are also available on YouTube:

May 23, 2018 Dennis Andrucyk Deputy Associate Administrator, NASA HQ.
June 27, 2018 Christopher J. Scolese Director, Goddard Space Flight Center
September 26, 2018 Gerald R. North Distinguished Professor and Holder of the Harold J. Haynes Endowed Chair in Geosciences at Texas A&M University
October 24, 2018 Nicholas E. White Senior Vice President for Science, Universities Space Research Association (USRA)
November 13, 2018 Robert W. Corell Chair of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment and a Principal for the Global Environment Technology Foundation
November 28, 2018 Christa D. Peters-Lidard Deputy Director for Hydrosphere, Biosphere, and Geophysics, Earth Sciences Division, NASA GSFC.

Editor's note: information herein culled from NASA, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, various universities, and other online sources). The YouTube terms of service agreement can be found at


Samuel H. Moseley Maniac Lecture

January 24

Dr. Samuel H. Moseley, Senior Astrophysicist at GSFC, presented a Maniac lecture entitled, "HIRMES - Probing the Inner Secrets of Protoplanetary Systems - and that's not all!" Over the last three years, Harvey and team have been developing the HIRMES (High Resolution Mid-Infrared Spectrometer) instrument to probe the inner secrets of protoplanetary disk, where the solids materials, on a very short time scale, are separated from the gas to allow the coalescence of planets. In this lecture, he talked about how they have designed this cool (cold?) instrument that enables the exploration of the formation of planetary systems such as our own solar system. Harvey described the science program, instrument design, and provided a status report on HIRMES. They plan to be ready for the first commissioning flights in spring of 2019, so it is not too early to explore the possibilities that HIRMES will enable. And more importantly, Harvey talked about his own journey and shared some wisdom gathered over the years, especially with colleagues who are just starting out.


Dr. Samuel H. Mosely is a senior astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Moseley’s accomplishments include the inventions of superconducting imaging arrays for astronomy, ranging from sub-millimeter bolometers to energy sensitive X-ray microcalorimeters, and even dark matter detectors, as well as microshutter arrays for the James Webb Space Telescope near-infrared spectrometer, which promise to enable detailed study of the first galaxies to form in the universe after the big bang. Before the Webb, Moseley worked extensively on COBE as a member of its Science Working Group. The satellite made groundbreaking measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, which show the universe soon after the big bang. Astrophysicists John Mather and George Smoot won the 2006 Nobel Prize in physics for this work. He has also worked on the many programs that have either flown or are expected to fly: the Kuiper Airborne Observatory, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Japan’s Suzaku (ASTRO-E2) mission. Moseley received his bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College, his master’s degree and doctorate from University of Chicago. He is a member of the American Physical Society and the American Astronomical Society.

Elizabeth M. Middleton Maniac Lecture

March 28

Dr. Elizabeth M. Middleton, a senior terrestrial ecosystem and carbon cycle scientist at GSFC, presented a Maniac lecture entitled, "Four Satellites and a Cornfield." In this lecture, Betsy talks about her unconventional path as a woman scientist while balancing family and care-giver responsibilities. She recently claimed her 40 year NASA Certificate and Pin. During those four decades she has been fortunate to be directly involved in four satellite missions. These were Landsat (ERRSAC), EO-1 (Mission Scientist), an ESA mission (FLEX) now in formulation phase A, and a successful NASA mission concept development team (HyspIRI). In addition, she has been involved in basic research on plant physiology and reflectance characteristics. Various in situ studies include hyperspectral and BRDF properties of plant canopies, UV-B effects on soybean, and nitrogen and drought effects on photosynthesis and fluorescence in cornfields. She was also a PI and Co-PI in the FIFE and BOREAS multi-year field campaigns.


Dr. Elizabeth M. Middleton is a senior terrestrial ecosystem and carbon cycle scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, focusing on the photobiology and remote sensing of vegetation, with expertise in field and laboratory measurements of plant physiological and spectral optical properties, project management, and satellite remote sensing of ecosystems. She leads a research team that studies vegetation spectral bioindicators of plant stress and photosynthetic function, including plant fluorescence. Over the last four decades with NASA, she has been directly involved in four satellite missions including Landsat (ERRSAC), Earth Observing One (EO-1, Mission Scientist for 9 years), formulation of an ESA mission (FLEX - the FLuorescence EXplorer, as the NASA representative for 10 years), and a successful NASA mission concept development team (HyspIRI - Hyperspectral Infrared Imager, 10 years as the GSFC leader), which was recently selected for development towards formulation by NASA. She was a Co-I in the tall grass prairie campaign as part of the FIFE (First ISLSCP) Field Experiment in Kansas (mid 1980s), a PI in the boreal forest studies in Saskatchewan during the BOREAS (Boreal Ecosystem Study) campaign (mid 1990s), the data system manager for the GSFC team for the Large Scale Ecosystem Study in Amazonia (LBA) in Brazil (late 1990s), and the research leader for the Fluorescence Laboratory, jointly conducted with USDA/Beltsville, MD. The fluorescence research has included a two-decade summer research campaign largely conducted at the local USDA research cornfield. In addition, she was a member of the NASA/GSFC Carbon Cycle Science Working Group (2000–2007) and the NASA representative to the U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee's Vegetation Subcommittee for many years. Dr. Middleton won the 2012 Nordberg Award and has won other numerous NASA career achievement awards. She received the B.S. degree in Zoology, the M.S. degree in Ecology, and the Ph.D. degree in Botany (plant physiology) from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1967, 1976, and 1993, respectively. She joined NASA in 1978.

Gavin A. Schmidt Maniac Lecture

April 18

Dr. Gavin A. Schmidt, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, presented a Maniac lecture entitled, “Contingencies, Communications, and Climate.” When he was much younger, Gavin assumed that progress in a career (or indeed, life), was a smooth, incremental climb to success. Looking back, he sees instead the chasms, the asteroids, and a series of seemingly trivial decisions that ended up having the biggest consequences. Nonetheless, there are things that he picked up along the way that have molded the kind of science he does, and the approach he takes to being a (semi-accidental) public scientist in the contested subject of climate change.


Gavin Schmidt graduated from Oxford University with a BA (Hons) in mathematics in 1988 and a PhD in applied mathematics from the University College London in 1994. From 1994-1996, Dr. Schmidt worked at McGill University as a postdoc; 1996-1998, NOAA Climate and Global Change fellow at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York; 1998-2004, Associate Research Scientist at Columbia University. He joined NASA GISS in 2004 and became Director of GISS in 2014.

His main research interest is in climate variability, which can be both internal and externally-driven. He uses and helps develop coupled ocean-atmosphere climate models, including GISS ModelE. One of his specific interests is using "isotopically enabled" models that track oxygen-18 and deuterium tracers in water throughout the climate system, allowing the model to simulate the pattern of isotopes observed in satellite retrievals, ice cores, cave records and ocean sediments.

Dr. Schmidt has often appeared in the media to discuss climate-related stories, current events or give lectures. He has worked with (among others) the American Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian, the College de France, and the New York Academy of Sciences for education and outreach. Dr. Schmidt helped co-found the RealClimate blog in 2004 and published a book “Climate Change: Picturing the Science” with co-author Joshua Wolfe in 2009. In October 2011, the American Geophysical Union awarded Schmidt the inaugural Climate Communications Prize, for his work on communicating climate-change issues to the public.