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 22, 2019 Jennifer J. Wiseman Senior Astrophysicist & Hubble Senior Project Scientist, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
June 26, 2019 Stephen Jurczyk Associate Administrator, NASA Headquarters.
July 24, 2019 Lucy McFadden Planetary Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
August 28, 2019 Dorothy Zukor Associate Director for Institutional Planning and Development, Earth Sciences Division, NASA/GSFC.
September 25, 2019 Stamatios M. Krimigis Head Emeritus and Principal Staff, Space Department, Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University.
October 23, 2019 Colleen Hartman National Academy of Sciences,
November 20, 2019 Dixon M. Butler Founder and President, YLACES (Youth Learning as Citizen Environmental Scientists).
January 15, 2020 Thomas H. Zurbuchen Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters.
March 25, 2020 Sandra A. Cauffman Earth Science Division Acting Director, NASA Headquarters.

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


Mark Clampin Maniac Lecture

March 27

Dr. Mark Clampin, Director, Sciences and Exploration Directorate, NASA GSFC, presented a Maniac lecture entitled, “From Sea to Space: A journey through astrophysics, instrumentation, and leadership.” Mark was inspired by the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, but he knew he wanted to work for NASA watching NASA teamwork at its best as the Apollo 13 recovery unfolded. Around the same time, a new tv show Star Trek inspired a generation for the first time to seriously consider the possibility of life in the Universe, and for him a career in astrophysics. Further inspiration came from Jacque Cousteau’s exploration of the world’s oceans. Mark has been privileged to develop instruments that search for evidence of planets around other stars, worked on four Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Missions, and helped develop its successor the James Webb Space Telescope. He will talk about these experiences and what he has learnt along the way.


Mark Clampin graduated from the University of London with a B.S. in physics in 1982 and a PhD in astronomy from the University of Saint Andrews in 1986. From 1992-2003, Dr. Clampin worked at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), Baltimore, Maryland, first as a post-doc working on photon-counting detectors and coronagraphs. Later, he spent four years at Johns Hopkins University before returning to the institute to work on several of the Hubble Space Telescope’s instruments and three of its five servicing missions, which extended and enhanced the observatory’s scientific capability. From 2003-2015, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, working on the James Webb Space Telescope Observatory as a Project Scientist; 2015-2016, Director, Astrophysics Science Division; 2016-2018, Deputy Director, Sciences and Exploration Directorate and in 2018, he became the Director, Sciences and Exploration Directorate.

Dr. Clampin's research interests focus on studying the formation and evolution of planetary systems. He was the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) Group Lead at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), where he worked on three Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Servicing Missions. He is a Co-Investigator with the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), and the Advanced camera for Surveys (ACS) science team and served as the Detector Scientist. Dr Clampin has also designed ground-based telescope instruments including adaptive optics systems, coronagraphs and detectors.

Nicholas White Maniac Lecture

April 17

Dr. Nicholas E. White, Senior Vice President for Science, Universities Space Research Association (USRA), presented a Maniac lecture entitled, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” From a small town in rural England, as a teenager, Nick followed with awe the NASA Moon program. When he was asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. His answer was to work for NASA! Nick shared how that teenage dream became a reality, how it led him to X-ray astronomy, to become a project scientist and leader at ESA and NASA, and to meet a lot of terrific like-minded people along the way.


Nicholas White graduated from Leicester University with a B.Sc. in physics in 1973 and a PhD in space physics from the University College London in 1977. From 1978-1982, Dr. White was a postdoc with the University of Maryland College Park based at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Later, he spent six years with the European Space Agency (Research Fellow, 1982-1984, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, Senior EXOSAT Observatory Scientist, 1984-1986, Darmstadt, West Germany, and EXOSAT Project Scientist, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands). From 1990-2014, Dr. White was with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where he held many important leadership positions at NASA Goddard, including the director of Sciences and Exploration Directorate (2008-2014), Director of Goddard's Astrophysics Science Division (2004-2008), and Chief of the Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics (2000-2004). He joined the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) in 2014, where serves as Senior Vice President for Science and provide oversight of scientific activity across USRA institutes and programs. Dr. white’s primary area of research is in X-ray astronomy, studying black holes and neutron stars. His pedigree includes more than 200 publications in refereed journals.

Edward Rogers Maniac Lecture

April 30

Dr. Edward Rogers, Chief Knowledge Officer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center presented a Maniac lecture entitled, “Anything Can Be a Game.” From growing up in Saudi Arabia, to attending boarding school in India, and then doing relief work in Lebanon, Ed learned to value diversity in this world. Yet, when he arrived at Goddard, he assumed that he had to be formal and serious to be heard. He soon found out that the people of NASA are just as human as everyone else, facing the same challenges to their goals and sharing the same excitement about what lies ahead. Throughout his life he has learned and relearned a universal truth: no matter where you live, work, or play, life is a game. And when you recognize that anything can be a game, playing your way through it is so much better than simply letting life play you. This is Ed’s story about how he learned to help others learn to play it better. From Pause-and-Learn workshops to case studies and Road to Mission Success, Ed learned how to make a difference, and that has made all the difference for him.


Edward Rogers graduated from Ohio State University with a B.Sc. in Agronomy in 1980, then went to Darla Moore School of Business where he graduated with MIB, International Business in 1991. He received a Ph.D. from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations focusing on the role of cooperation in high tech firms. In the early 1980s he performed five years of international relief work in Southern Lebanon. Prior to returning to academic work at Cornell, Dr. Rogers operated a private consulting practice focused on knowledge workers and intelligent enterprise. His research and publications apply game theory models to human behavior in organizations. He has consulted with a number of organizations on building conceptual transparency and leveraging collective knowledge. Before joining NASA he taught strategic management and entrepreneurship at Cornell, Duke and the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

H. Jay Zwally Maniac Lecture

May 14

Dr. H. Jay Zwally, Senior Research Scientist, Earth System Interdisciplinary Science Center (ESSIC), University of Maryland, College Park presented a Maniac lecture entitled, "The Scientist (Space Physics to Polar Glaciology/Climate)." Jay talked about his pathway from a PA Dutch (Swiss) farming family in Lancaster Co Pennsylvania, a 3-room 8-grade school house, teenage coal and oil truck driver and auto mechanic, poker player, aero-mechanical engineer, space physicist, internationally known glaciologist/ climate scientist, and avid snow skier and koi farmer?? The challenges, opportunities, obstacles, and successes including scientific and leadership contributions as NSF Program Manager for Glaciology and Remote Sensing and Goddard scientist including establishment of cryospheric research program and ICESat missions.


H. Jay Zwally graduated from Drexel University with a B.S. in mechanical/aeronautical engineering in 1961 and a PhD in physics with a minor in mathematics from the University of Maryland in 1969. Between 1969 and 1972, he was a Visiting Research Assistant Professor, Institute for Fluid Dynamics and Applied Mathematics University of Maryland, College Park. From 1972-1974, Dr. Zwally was a Program Manager for Glaciology and Remote Sensing in the NSF's Division of Polar Programs, where he managed the initiation of the interdisciplinary Ross Ice Shelf Project, the Greenland Ice Sheet Project, improved airborne radar mapping of ice sheet thickness, and planning for a West Antarctic ice sheet project. He joined NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in 1974, and helped build the Cryospheric lab from ground up. Dr. Zwally and colleagues pioneered the use of ocean-radar altimetry for mapping ice sheet topography and studies of mass balance. They developed a comprehensive map of sea ice freeboard and thickness, and discovered the melt-acceleration effect on the flow of the polar ice sheets such as the one on Greenland --which became indicators of the health of the polar ice covers and served as the bellwether of the changing climate. And led to missions such as ICESat in 2003, the first NASA satellite mission for measuring ice sheet mass balance, cloud and aerosol heights, as well as land topography and vegetation characteristics. The next-generation successor to the original ICESat satellite (ICESat-2) was successfully launched on September 15, 2018. Dr. Zwally was on the Mars Orbiting Laser Altimeter (MOLA) science team and provided key insights to the interpretation of the Mars northern ice cap as predominately water ice with an outlying cap remnant using the laser-elevation data. He has also been effective in communicating ice and climate science to the public, including appearances on NOVA, ABC, CNN, Discovery, Voice of America, BBC, and MSNBC’s Countdown.

Jennifer Wiseman Maniac Lecture

May 22

Dr. Jennifer Wiseman, Senior Project Scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope presented a Maniac lecture entitled, “The Big Picture of An Awesome Universe.” How does a child on a rural Ozark farm find a path to astrophysics, science policy, and NASA? Jennifer shared how a nurturing community and a deep love of nature propelled her toward opportunities in astronomy and space exploration. Her initial career interests in human space flight and astronomy broadened into involvement in national science policy, oversight, and public science engagement. Now as senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope, she discussed how sharing the excitement and challenges of scientific discovery can inspire many across a broad cultural landscape. She’ll also showed some very cool Hubble images.


Dr. Jennifer Wiseman is a senior astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, where she serves as the senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope. Her primary responsibility is to ensure that the Hubble mission is as scientifically productive as possible. Previously, Wiseman headed Goddard’s Laboratory for Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics. She started her career at NASA in 2003 as the program scientist for Hubble and several other astrophysics missions at NASA Headquarters. Wiseman’s scientific expertise is centered on the study of star forming regions in our galaxy using a variety of tools, including radio, optical and infrared telescopes. As an undergraduate, Wiseman studied physics at MIT, where she discovered the comet 114P/Wiseman-Skiff. She then earned a Ph.D. in astronomy at Harvard University, and continued her research as a Jansky Fellow at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and as a Hubble Fellow at The Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Wiseman is also interested in science policy and public science engagement. She has served as a congressional science fellow of the American Physical Society, an elected councilor of the American Astronomical Society, a fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation, and a public dialogue leader for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She enjoys giving talks on the excitement of astronomy and scientific discovery. She grew up on a small farm in the Ozark Mountains of rural Arkansas and loves animals, forests, night skies and exploring nature.