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


Gail Skofronick Jackson Maniac Lecture

23 January

NASA climate scientist Dr. Gail Skofronick Jackson presented a Maniac Talk entitled "Falling Snow Detective." Gail talked about her experiences growing up with hurricanes in Florida and how that shaped her excitement in the science of detecting falling snow from space. Using paper snowflakes and audience help, she explained why snow is important on Earth and why scientists love and hate snow.


Project Scientist, GPM; Chief, Mesoscale Atmospheric Processes Laboratory, NASA GSFC

As the Project Scientist for the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, Dr. Gail Skofronick Jackson directs and coordinates all science team activities for GPM retrieval algorithms, ground validation, and both pure precipitation science and application science investigations. She also develops national and international partnerships, advocates for the mission, presents at conferences, education and outreach events, and prepares mission documentation. Because of her engineering background, Dr. Jackson provides a critical link between the project engineers/mission operations and the scientists using data.

Dr. Skofronick Jackson is a highly accomplished and well-regarded scientist for retrievals of ice particles in clouds. She has been funded for this work as a PI for NASA Headquarters under the Precipitation Measurement Mission and CloudSat Programs. Dr. Skofronick Jackson is also the Laboratory Chief for the Mesoscale Atmospheric Processes (Code 612) Laboratory.

Anne Douglass Maniac Lecture

27 March

NASA climate scientist Dr. Anne Douglass presented a Maniac Talk entitled "Satellite Observations - the Touchstone of Atmospheric Modeling." Anne shared some of her scientific career that is filled with unexpected twists and turns and even a few blind alleys, but most important her passion in satellite measurements of ozone and other trace gases, which have been her touchstone.


Atmospheric Scientist, Atmospheric Chemistry & Dynamics Laboratory, NASA GSFC

Dr. Anne Douglass contributes to research involving stratospheric ozone, including effects of changes in anthropogenic chlorofluorocarbons and effects of emissions from aircraft. She served as Deputy Project Scientist for the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite and Earth Observing System Aura, and has been project scientist for Aura since 2009. After obtaining her undergraduate degree and master’s degree, she began a PhD program with a specialty in atmospheric science. Dr. Douglass accepted a part-time contractor position at Goddard Space Flight Center, and transitioned to full-time when she became a civil servant. Throughout this time her interest was modeling stratospheric ozone, progressing with the field from 1-D models to 2-D (latitude/altitude) and then 3-D (using specified meteorology), always keeping the modeling activity and results close to observations, often pursuing parallel analysis of observations and simulated output that was sampled in the same manner as the observations. She is currently co-lead for one of the premier chemistry climate models, that couples a photochemical mechanism appropriate for climate applications in the stratosphere and troposphere with the state-of-the-art general circulation model that is developed in the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office. Among Dr. Douglass’ awards, she has received a NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (2012) and Nordberg Award (GSFC, Remote Sensing in Earth Science) (2013). She is also a Fellow of both the American Meteorological Society (1998) and the American Geophysical Union (2007).

Marc Imhoff Maniac Lecture

24 April

NASA climate scientist (emeritus) Dr. Marc Imhoff presented a Maniac Talk entitled "Urbanization in the Anthropocene: What's Ahead for Energy, Climate, and Food Security?" Marc shared some of his new work on integrated modeling approaches that couple socio-economics, climate and energy using data from satellites, as well as key moments during his career at NASA of about 32 years.


Deputy Director, Joint Global Change Research Institute, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)/University of Maryland

Dr. Marc Imhoff is the Deputy Director of PNNL’s Joint Global Change Research Institute in College Park, MD. He began his career at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in 1980 as a Regional Applications Project Manager integrating remote sensing technology with the resource management activities of state governments. In the mid-1980s, Dr. Imhoff moved to the Space Data and Computing Division and won a position on the science team of the Shuttle Imaging Radar-B (SIR-B) mission, researching the use of vegetation penetration radar imaging systems to target malaria vector breeding habitats in the tropics. He concurrently worked on the Landsat-4 Data Quality Assessment Team and helped run a series of NASA/DoD technology transfer projects. He then worked as an Instrument Manager with the Earth Observing System Project Office. In 1990, Dr. Imhoff was awarded a Research and Study Fellowship to Stanford University, where he developed methods for measuring forest structure and biomass using radar imaging and polarimetry for global carbon inventory, resource assessment, and terrain analysis. He served as the Earth System Science Pathfinder Program Project Scientist (ESSP) (2001-2004) where he developed the solicitation of and review of proposals, and recommended the selection of new missions. From 2005 to Sept 2012, Dr. Imhoff was the Project Scientist for Terra, an active on-orbit satellite mission consisting of five instruments and science teams covering seven Earth system science research focus areas, and was also Chair of the mission science team, justifying mission continuation and managing the annual budget required for flight operations and science team activities.

Compton Tucker Maniac Lecture

22 May

NASA climate scientist Dr. Compton "Jim" Tucker presented a Maniac Talk entitled "Measurements, Modeling, and the Jump to Three Decades of Global Satellite Data." Jim shared experiences and lessons learned over three decades while studying global land vegetation, and his early years as a bank credit-card clerk and bill collector in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.


Senior Scientist, Hydrospheric and Biospheric Laboratory, NASA GSFC

Dr. Compton “Jim” Tucker earned his B.S. from Colorado State University in 1969; in 1973 and 1975, he received his M.S. and Ph.D, respectively, both from the College of Forestry, Colorado State University. He worked as a post-doctoral fellow through the National Academy of Sciences at NASA Goddard in 1975 and became a civil servant at NASA in 1977. Through the use of satellite remote sensing his work was used for early warning of famine and insect control. He has also studied photosynthesis, global agricultural production, land cover, tropical deforestation and the prediction of disease outbreaks connected to changes in climate.

Dr. Tucker is the recipient of many awards and honors. Among them are the following: NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award (1987); NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (1989); NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Senior Fellow (1992); National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Current Achievement (1995); William Nordberg Memorial Award for Earth Sciences (1996); Mongolian Friendship Medal (1st U.S. co-recipient with Dr. Mary Cleave) (1997); William T. Pecora Award, U.S. Geological Survey (2000); Int'l Society for Optical Engineering NASA-Office Naval Research Remote Sensing Award (2002); Highly Cited Researcher, Institute of Scientific Information's Web of Science 2004 - Galathea Medal, Royal Danish Geographical Society. He was the NASA representative to the U.S. Global Change Research Program (GCRP) from 2006 to 2009. In April 2014, Dr. Tucker received the Vega Medal from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. This honor celebrates his work in remote sensing.

Michael King Maniac Lecture

3 July

NASA climate scientist (emeritus) Dr. Michael King presented a Maniac Talk entitled "From a Love of Nature to a World of Earth Observations." Michael shared his scientific career including early unsuccessful pursuits in atmospheric electricity to more rewarding research in radiative transfer, and his crystal ball view of the future of Earth science.


Currently Senior Research Scientist with LASP (Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics), University of Colorado; Emeritus, NASA GSFC

Dr. Michael King is a Senior Scientist Emeritus in the Earth Sciences Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; previously, he served as Senior Project Scientist of NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) from 1992 to 2008. He began his career at Goddard Space Flight Center in January 1978 as a physical scientist, and served as Project Scientist of the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) from 1983-1992. The Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS) was the first science satellite launched from the Space Shuttle (STS 41-G) and was deployed by Sally Ride from Challenger in October 1984. After retiring from NASA in April 2008, he joined the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, where he currently holds a faculty appointment as a Senior Research Scientist.

His research experience includes conceiving, developing, and operating multispectral scanning radiometers from a number of aircraft platforms in field experiments ranging from arctic stratus clouds to smoke from the Kuwait oil fires and biomass burning in Brazil and southern Africa. He has lectured on global change on all seven continents. He developed the Cloud Absorption Radiometer (CAR) for studying the absorption properties of optically thick clouds as well as the bidirectional reflectance properties of many natural surfaces, and is principal investigator of the MODIS Airborne Simulator, an imaging spectrometer that flies onboard the NASA ER-2 aircraft.

Dr. King has received many awards including the William Nordberg Memorial Award for Earth Science, the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal; the Verner E. Suomi Award of the AMS for fundamental contributions to remote sensing and radiative transfer; and recipient of the Space Systems Award of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) for NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS) Team. He is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the American Meteorological Society (AMS), and most recently, a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Warren Wiscombe Maniac Lecture

15 July

NASA climate scientist Dr. Warren Wiscombe presented a special Maniac Talk entitled "Exoplanets." Warren shared how he got interested in exoplanets and gave an overview of the methods used to detect exoplanets, a few of the important and most fun discoveries, and what lies ahead.


Emeritus of NASA GSFC, Guest Researcher at Brookhaven National Laboratory, NY

While working in the private sector research industry after obtaining his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, Dr. Warren Wiscombe essentially “fell into” the fledgling subject of climate modeling. In the late 1960’s he volunteered to work on a subcontract through the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Project Agency’s (ARPA) Climate Dynamics Program, the first large-scale climate research program centered around modeling. He continued to improve models by working as a senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and acted as chief scientist for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) largest global change research program, the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program. ARM focuses on better understanding clouds and radiative feedbacks. Dr. Wiscombe, who was formerly with the Climate and Radiation Laboratory at NASA Goddard, retired from NASA as a Senior Scientist in 2013.

Charles McClain Maniac Lecture

24 July

NASA Climate scientist Dr. Charles McClain presented a Maniac Talk entitled "From Great Expanses of Grassland to Great Expanses of Marine Phytoplankton (or "Ok, Now What Do I Do!"). Chuck shared some of the marine ecosystems science he has been involved in at Goddard over the past 35 years, as well as a reflection on his journey from a rural agricultural community in Missouri to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.


Several Roles with SeaWIFS; Research Scientist, Ocean Ecology Laboratory, NASA GSFC

Dr. Charles McClain received a B.A. degree from William Jewell College and a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. As a National Research Council postdoctoral associate, he worked for two years at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, D.C., and then joined NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in 1978. As a research scientist at NASA/GSFC, he specializes in the processing and interpretation of satellite ocean color data, studying the interactions between physical and biological processes in the oceans. He is presently serving as the SeaWiFS (Sea-viewing Wide Field of View Sensor) Calibration and Validation Manager, Project Scientist, and Project Manager. He also serves as the Project Manager of the SIMBIOS (Sensor Intercomparison and Merger for Biological and Interdisciplinary Oceanic Studies) Project, which is co-located with the SeaWiFS Project. Finally, he is team leader of an EOS (Earth Observing System) Interdisciplinary Study program focused on the couplings between physical and biological processes including primary production in the tropical oceans.

Lorraine Remer Maniac Lecture

9 September

NASA climate scientist Dr. Lorraine Remer presented a Maniac Talk entitled "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun: Why I came to NASA and Why I left." Lorraine shared some of the aerosol science she has been involved in at NASA Goddard over the past 21 years, as well as a reflection on her route to becoming a NASA scientist and key factors that influenced her to leave a tenured job.


Research Professor, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Member of JCET/UMBC Research Group, affiliated with the Climate and Radiation Laboratory, NASA GSFC

Dr. Lorraine Remer spent 21 years at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center involved in the remote sensing of aerosol and the use of remote sensing data for the study of aerosols in climate processes, how aerosol particles affect clouds, aerosol transport and particulate air pollution. Her first position at Goddard in 1991 was in the role of a support scientist, employed by Science Systems and Applications, Inc. (SSAI), where she contributed to the development of the MODIS aerosol algorithms.

In 1998 Dr, Remer joined the Federal civil service, and in 2012 she left NASA to become a part of JCET at UMBC. Dr. Remer has been a member of NASA’s MODIS, CloudSat/CALIPSO, NPP, Glory and Global Aerosol Climatology Project Science Teams. She has contributed to the U.S. Climate Change Science Change Program (US CCSCP) and to the WMO International Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution (HTAP). Her B.S. and Ph.D. are from the University of California, Davis (U.C. Davis), and her M.S. from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego.

David Atlas Maniac Lecture

25 September

NASA climate scientist, the founding director of the Laboratory of Atmospheric Sciences at NASA/GSFC, presented a maniac talk entitled "70 Years in Meteorology." David shared some of the advances in radar for atmospheric probing since World War-II and the institutions and people which played major roles, and a personal reflection on meteorology in the last 70 years


Emeritus Scientist, NASA GSFC

Dr. David Atlas was Professor of Meteorology at University of Chicago and Director of Atmospheric Technologies Division, NCAR, Boulder, Colo. In 1977, he was the founding director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric Sciences at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where he led a broad-based R&D program on the development of space-based instruments for monitoring the atmosphere, oceans, and cryosphere and conducted research on the measurement of rainfall from air and space platforms. This work ultimately led to the development and launch, in 1997, of the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM), which made it possible to measure rainfall over tropical regions of the globe. Upon his retirement from NASA in 1984, Dr. Atlas established his own consulting firm but continued his research at the University of Maryland; the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology as Distinguished Visiting Scientist; and the Goddard Space Flight Center, where he is still Distinguished Visiting Scientist. His many patents have led to the development of practical airborne radars for severe weather avoidance on commercial aircraft. He also established world-class research and development (R&D) groups at Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories, the University of Chicago, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Among his many other achievements, he is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Society, the Royal Meteorological Society, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Meteorological Society.

Alexander Marshak Maniac Lecture

23 October

NASA climate scientist Dr. Alexander Marshak presented a Maniac Talk entitled "My Radiative Transfer Journey: from Pure Math to Clouds with Stops at Nuclear Reactors, Vegetation and Fractals." Marshak traced his journey from Tartu (Estonia) to Novosibirsk (Russia) to Goettingen (Germany) and finally to NASA Goddard (USA). He also reflected on his lengthy journey through many aspects of radiation transport and his rich experience in remote sensing observations of aerosols and clouds.


Research Physical Scientist, Climate and Radiation Laboratory, NASA GSFC

Dr. Alexander Marshak received his M.S. from Tartu Univ., Estonia, and his PhD from the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Novosibirsk, Russia. In 1978, he joined the Institute of Astrophysics and Atmospheric Physics in Estonia, where he worked for 11 years. In 1989, he received an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship and worked for two years with Göttingen University, Germany. In 1991, he joined NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, first working for SSAI, then UMBC/JCET, and finally, NASA/GSFC, where he has been since 2003. Dr. Marshak conducts research on remote sensing of clouds, aerosols and blowing snow, on cloud-aerosol interaction, and on many aspects of atmospheric radiative transfer. He is the Deputy Project Scientist for the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite mission, is a member of the CALIPSO and MODIS Science Teams, and is a member of the International Radiation Commission.

Josefino Comiso Maniac Lecture

5 November

NASA climate scientist Dr. Josefino Comiso presented a Maniac Talk entitled "Jeep Accident, Sea Ice Anomalies and Global Warming." Joey shared some of his experiences growing up in northern Philippines and his sea ice work at NASA GSFC that led to many breakthroughs in our understanding of the role of sea ice and the polar regions in the climate system.


Senior Research Scientist, Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory, NASA GSFC

Dr. Josefino Comiso received his B.S. degree from the University of the Philippines, his Master’s Degree from Florida State University, and his Ph. D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. He held a post-doctoral position at the University of Virginia and worked as a senior consultant for Computer Sciences Corporation before joining NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. At Goddard, his research led to new insights into many important processes in the polar regions including: (a) deep ocean convection and the influence of polynyas and Odden on bottom water formation; (b) phytoplankton blooms and relationships with the sea ice cover and (c) climate change signals as revealed by the changing sea ice cover and accelerated warming in the Arctic region. He was the chief scientist for many NASA aircraft missions in the Arctic and Antarctic that included a flight over a nuclear submarine near the North Pole that demonstrated the feasibility of measuring sea ice thickness from space. He has been a member of satellite sensor teams and has developed algorithms for the retrieval of sea ice concentration, surface temperature, and clouds. Dr. Comiso has been the recipient of several NASA awards including the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (2013), outstanding scientist awards by professional societies and institutions and has served as visiting scientist in many international institutes.

John Mather Maniac Lecture

20 November

Nobel Laureate John Mather presented a Maniac Talk entitled "From childhood to Stockholm and on to JWST, stories from a real life." John talked about his childhood, and special people and events leading to his Nobel price in Physics and the future with James Webb Space Telescope.


Nobel Prize Winner in Physics (2006), Senior Project Scientist for the JWST (James Webb Space Telescope) at NASA GSFC

Dr. John Mather is a Senior Astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, where his research centers on infrared astronomy and cosmology. He received a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College (PA) and a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. As a National Research Council (NRC) postdoctoral fellow at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS, NY), he led the proposal efforts for the Cosmic Background Explorer. Dr. Mather came to GSFC to be the Study Scientist and then Project Scientist on COBE, and also was the Principal Investigator for the Far IR Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS) on COBE. He and the COBE team showed that the cosmic microwave background radiation has a blackbody spectrum within 50 parts per million (ppm), confirming the Big Bang theory to extraordinary accuracy.

Since 1995, he has been Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope, leading the science team and representing scientific interests within the project management. He has served on advisory and working groups for the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, and NSF for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), and the Center for Astrophysical Research in the Antarctic (CAMA). He has received many awards, including the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics, which he shares with George F. Smoot of the University of California for their work using the COBE satellite to measure the heat radiation from the Big Bang.