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:

April 17, 2019 Nicholas E. White Senior Vice President for Science, Universities Space Research Association (USRA).
April 30, 2019 Edward Rogers Chief Knowledge Officer, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
May 14, 2019 H Jay Zwally Chief Cryosphere Scientist, NASA GSFC.
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.
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, John 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).

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


Michael Mishchenko Maniac Lecture

January 26

NASA climate scientist Dr. Michael I. Mishchenko presented a Maniac Talk entitled "How much first-principle physics do we need in remote-sensing and atmospheric-radiation research." Michael explained his skepticism and how it has shaped his contributions to the disciplines of electromagnetic scattering, radiative transfer, and remote sensing, which have found widespread use.


Senior Scientist, NASA GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies)

Dr. Michael Mishchenko received an M.S. in Physics from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, and a Ph.D. in Physics (with honors) from the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, Kiev. Prior to his current position at NASA GISS, he worked as a Senior Research Scientist at SUNY/Stony Brook in New York, and was a Senior Scientist with STX/SSAI at NASA/GISS. He has an extensive amount of scientific developments to his name: an analytical theory of multiple scattering of polarized light in clouds composed of oriented non-spherical particles and several robust numerical techniques for computing the transfer of polarized radiation in the atmosphere; an efficient technique for computing the bidirectional reflection function for flat snow and soil surfaces based on numerically solving the radiative transfer equation; a vector theory of coherent backscattering of light and radar signals by particulate surfaces and interpreted quantitatively the photometric and polarization opposition effects exhibited by Saturn's rings and outer-planet satellites and peculiar radar returns caused by ice-covered surfaces; algorithms for retrieving aerosol optical thickness and size from multichannel AVHRR data, plus he created a long-term global satellite climatology of aerosol properties; and, an electromagnetic scattering software package, which is publicly available on the World Wide Web (, just to name a few. Among his many honors, he is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, The Institute of Physics, UK, The Optical Society of America, and The American Geophysical Union. In 2014, he was awarded the NASA Performance Award; in 2011, the NASA Group Achievement Award (Glory Mission, 2011); in 2010, the National Prize of Ukraine in Science and Technology; in 2008, the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal. In 2010, he received the JQSRT Milestone Paper Award from Elsevier, and in 2009, Asteroid 22686 (1998 QL53) was named "Mishchenko" by the International Astronomical Union.

Paul Newman Maniac Lecture

February 25

NASA climate scientist Dr. Paul Newman presented a Maniac Talk entitled "Some pretty good rules for a career: Newman's own lessons." Paul traced his journey from middle of Seattle, where he grew up, moved to rural Iowa for graduate school, and made his way to NASA/GSFC in 1984, and discussed lessons to be learned from the ozone depletion story.


Chief Scientist for Atmospheric Sciences, NASA GSFC, Earth Sciences Division

Dr. Paul Newman earned a bachelor’s degree in physics at Seattle University, and then completed his doctorate in physics at Iowa State University. In 1984, he arrived at NASA Goddard as a postdoctoral researcher, worked for several years as science contractor, and in 1990 became a civil servant scientist. He has worked on about 17 airborne field missions at Goddard. Most recently, his latest mission was the Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment (ATTREX), which studies moisture and chemical composition in the region of the upper atmosphere where pollutants and other gases enter the stratosphere and potentially influence our climate. As the Deputy Principal Investigator for NASA's Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) mission, Dr. Newman works with the Principal Investigator to lead a diverse team of hurricane and instrument scientists to design and conduct experiments using unmanned aircraft to understand better the meteorological conditions that favor storm formation and often lead to the development of major hurricanes. HS3 is a five-year mission specifically targeted to investigate the processes that underlie hurricane formation and intensity change in the Atlantic Ocean basin. Other field campaigns included work in Costa Rica, Sweden, Norway and Alaska. During the SAGE III Ozone Loss and Validation Experiment (SOLVE), Dr. Newman directed the first flight of the NASA ER-2 over Russia, a civilian version of the U-2 reconnaissance plane that is used for scientific research. He was also the project scientist for the Global Hawk Pacific Mission, the first mission to use the Global Hawk for science.

Dr. Newman is a 2014 Goddard Senior Fellow and has been one of four co-chairs to the United Nations’ Scientific Assessment Panel for the Montreal Protocol since 2007. The Montreal Protocol of the United Nations regulates chlorofluorocarbons from aerosols spray cans and refrigerators, which can destroy the ozone layer. The United Nations has three panels: the scientific assessment, technical and environmental effects panels. Every four years, his panel produces a book called “The Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion,” which is the science basis for the Montreal Protocol. If the countries associated with the Montreal Protocol have a scientific question, it comes to all four co-chairs.

Dr. Newman is a Fellow of both the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union. He is a member of the International Ozone Commission (IOC), and other international scientific and technical committees. He has been part of 12 NASA Group Achievement awards and has twice been chosen by his Goddard colleagues for peer awards. In 2002, he was chosen for the Arthur S. Flemming Award presented by George Washington University. In 2009, he was awarded a Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Eugenia Kalnay Maniac Lecture

March 31

Dr. Eugenia Kalnay, Distinguished University Professor and the first woman to get a doctorate in Meteorology from MIT, presented a Maniac Talk entitled, "Sheer luck: How I stumbled my way through a fantastic scientific career." Eugenia shared her life and times at the University of Buenos Aires, MIT, NASA, NOAA and University of Maryland, infused with dreams from her mother.


Dr. Eugenia Kalnay received her undergraduate degree at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and her Ph.D. at MIT. She was an assistant professor at the University of Montevideo, Uruguay, and became an associate professor at MIT. She left MIT in 1979 and worked at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center for 8 years, first as a Senior Scientist and then as a Branch Head. From 1987-1997, she was Director of the Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) in Camp Springs, Md. During those ten years there were major improvements in the NWS models' forecast skill. Many successful projects came to fruition, such as the 60+years NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis (the paper on this Reanalysis has been cited over 10,000 times), seasonal and interannual dynamical predictions, the first operational ensemble forecasting, 3-D and 4-D variational data assimilation, advanced quality control, and coastal ocean forecasting. EMC became a pioneer in both the fundamental science and the practical applications of numerical weather prediction. From 1998-1999, she had an endowed chair (Robert E. Lowry Chair, School of Meteorology) at the University of Oklahoma. At present, she holds the title “Distinguished University Professor” in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science at the University of Maryland, which she chaired before.

Dr. Kalnay’s current research interests are in numerical weather prediction, data assimilation, predictability and ensemble forecasting, coupled ocean-atmosphere modeling and climate change and sustainability. Her book, Atmospheric Modeling, Data Assimilation and Predictability (2003) sold out within a year, is now on its fifth printing and was published in Chinese (2005) and in Korean (2012). A second edition is in preparation. With J. Yorke, she co-founded the Weather/Chaos Group at UMCP, which discovered the presence of low dimensionality in unstable regions of the atmosphere detected with breeding (Patil et al, 2002) and applied this result to develop the Local Ensemble Kalman Filter (Ott et al. 2002, 2004), the Local Ensemble Transform Kalman Filter (Hunt et al., 2007), and its extension to 4 dimensions (Hunt et al., 2004).

She has received numerous awards, including the 2009 IMO Prize of the World Meteorological Organization, the 2015 AMS Joanne Simpson Mentorship Award for effectively mentoring many early career scientists, and the 2015 AMS Honorary Member Award. She is also a Fellow of AGU (2005), AAAS (2006), and AMS (1983). Dr. Kalnay is a member of the UN Scientific Advisory Board on Sustainability created by the UN Secretary General.

Richard Stolarski Maniac Lecture

April 22

NASA climate scientist Dr. Richard Stolarski presented a Maniac Talk entitled "Ozone has been very, very good to me!" Rich was a player and an eye witness to much of the historical development of our understanding of the stratospheric ozone layer from the 1970s to the present. He shared some of the lessons learned on this journey, including major scientific and political developments that led to the Montreal Protocol that bans the production of many ozone-depleting substances.


Emeritus Research Scientist, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Branch, NASA GSFC

Dr. Richard Stolarski is Emeritus Research Scientist at NASA Goddard as well as a Research Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. His research experience includes theoretical physics and chemistry of atmospheres with an emphasis on stratospheric and tropospheric chemistry. His research includes analyzing satellite ozone data with an emphasis on determination of long-term changes in ozone. He is a member of the American Geophysical Union, and has been the recipient of the following awards: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award, United Nations Environment Programme Global Ozone Award, NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, and NASA Robert H. Goddard Award of Merit.

Richard Spinrad Maniac Lecture

May 27

NOAA Chief Scientist Dr. Richard "Rick" Spinrad presented a Maniac Talk entitled "Lately it occurs to me, what a long, strange trip it's been: one technocrat's unguided tour through oceanography." Rick shared his journey and life in science, including tipping points in his career and how he has come to understand the value of transdisciplinarity, odds-weighing, and timing.


In May 2014, Dr. Richard W. Spinrad became the second person to be appointed to the position of NOAA’s Chief Scientist since its first chief scientist, former astronaut and earth scientist Kathryn Sullivan, held the job in the mid-1990s (Dr. Sullivan is now NOAA’s Administrator). NOAA reestablished this position in 2009 as a presidential appointment requiring confirmation by the U.S. Senate; however, because of changes to federal personnel rules, Dr. Spinrad did not need Senate confirmation.

Prior to this position with NOAA, he served as head of NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research from 2005 – 2010, and from 2003 – 2005 as the head of NOAA’s National Ocean Service, leading NOAA’s oceans and coastal zone programs. Dr. Spinrad led the White House Committee that developed the nation’s first set of ocean research priorities and oversaw the revamping of NOAA’s research enterprise. Prior to returning to NOAA, he was Vice President for Research at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR from 2011- 2014, and served as a research director with the U.S. Navy.

He is a recipient of Presidential Meritorious Rank Awards from Presidents George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama. He is Past-President of the Oceanography Society and President-Elect of the Marine Technology Society, as well as a Fellow of the following: American Meteorological Society, Marine Technology Society, and the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology. Dr. Spinrad received his B.A. in earth and planetary sciences from The Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) and his M.S. and Ph.D., both in oceanography, from Oregon State University.

Richard Eckman Maniac Lecture

June 30

Dr. Richard Eckman, a NASA Program Manager presented a Maniac Talk entitled "Confessions of a Wannabe Meteorologist." Richard shared some of his encounters and experiences that led him from meteorology to ionospheric physics to mesospheric chemistry and, ultimately, to program management.


Since 2009, Dr. Richard Eckman has been detailed from NASA Langley to NASA HQ where he is the Program Manager for the ACMAP of the Earth Science Division of the Science Mission Directorate. ACMAP, the Atmospheric Composition Modeling and Analysis Program, focuses on investigations of air quality, how pollution sourced aerosols impact cloud properties, stratospheric chemistry and ozone depletion, and the interactions between climate and atmospheric chemistry.

Prior to leading ACMAP, Dr. Eckman served as Assistant Branch Head of the Chemistry and Dynamics branch at Langley, and during this period (2005-2008), he also was Acting Program Manager for the Energy Management Element of the Applied Sciences Program at NASA HQ. He is a member of the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, and the AMS Board on Enterprise Communication. He is co-leader of the Atmospheric Composition Constellation at the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites, and an Associate Editor for IEEE J-STARS (Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing). Dr. Eckman received his B.A. in physics and astronomy from the University of Pennsylvania, and his Ph.D. in astrophysical, planetary and atmospheric sciences from the University of Colorado. He did post-doctoral research at the University of Cambridge until 1988, when he joined NASA, working in Atmospheric Sciences at Langley.

Marshall Shepherd Maniac Lecture

July 14

Dr. Marshall Shepherd, professor, University of Georgia, also the host of Sunday's talk show Weather Geeks, presented a Maniac lecture entitled "Zombies, Sports, and Cola: Implications for Communicating Weather and Climate." Believe it or not, Dr. Shepherd ties zombies, sports, and cola together to provide a compelling look at how we communicate (miscommunicate) weather and climate.


Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd is a leading international expert in weather and climate. Dr. Shepherd was the 2013 President of American Meteorological Society (AMS), the nation’s largest and oldest professional/science society in the atmospheric and related sciences. Dr. Shepherd is Director of the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Atmospheric Sciences Program and Full Professor in the Department of Geography. He is the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences. Dr. Shepherd is also the host of The Weather Channel’s Sunday talk show Weather Geeks, a pioneering Sunday talk show on national television dedicated to science. In 2014, Ted Turner and his Captain Planet Foundation honored Dr. Shepherd with its Protector of the Earth Award. Prior recipients include Erin Brockovich and former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. He is also the 2015 Recipient of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Media Achievement award, the Florida State University Grads Made Good Award and the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Sandy Beaver Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 2015, Dr. Shepherd was invited to moderate the White House Champions for Change event. Prior to UGA, Dr. Shepherd spent 12 years as a Research Meteorologist at NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center and was Deputy Project Scientist for the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, a multi-national space mission that launched in 2014. President Bush honored him on May 4th 2004 at the White House with the Presidential Early Career Award for pioneering scientific research in weather and climate science. Dr. Shepherd is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, and in 2014, he was asked to join the Board for Climate Central, a leading science and media non-profit organization. In 2014, Dr. Shepherd was invited to join the Partnership Council for Mothers and Others for Clean Air. Two national magazines, the AMS, and Florida State University have also recognized Dr. Shepherd for his significant contributions.

Dr. Shepherd is frequently sought as an expert on weather, climate, and remote sensing. He routinely appears on CBS Face The Nation, NOVA, The Today Show, CNN, Fox News, The Weather Channel and several others. His TedX Atlanta Talk on “Slaying Climate Zombies” is highly regarded and cited. Dr. Shepherd is also frequently asked to advise key leaders at NASA, the White House, Congress, Department of Defense, and officials from foreign countries. In February 2013, Dr. Shepherd briefed the U.S. Senate on climate change and extreme weather. He has also written several editorials for CNN, Washington Post, Atlanta Journal Constitution, and numerous other outlets and has been featured in Time Magazine, Popular Mechanics, and NPR Science Friday. He is also a contributing author to Ebony Magazine, and his essay on climate and jobs was featured in the 2014 National Urban League State of Black America Report. He has over 90 peer-reviewed scholarly publications. NASA, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and U.S. Forest Service have funded his scholarly research. Dr. Shepherd was also instrumental in leading the effort for UGA to become the 78th member of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), a significant milestone for UGA.

Dr. Shepherd currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Nature Conservancy (Georgia Chapter), Earth Science Subcommittee of the NASA Advisory Council, and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Visiting Committee. He was a member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Science Advisory Board, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s Hazard Preparedness Advisory Group United Nations World Meteorological Organization steering committee on aerosols and precipitation, 2007 Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR4 contributing author team, a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel considering the security implications of climate change on U.S. Naval operations, and a NAS Committee on Urban Meteorology. Dr. Shepherd is a past editor for both the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology and Geography Compass, respectively.

Dr. Shepherd received his B.S., M.S. and PhD in physical meteorology from Florida State University. He was the first African American to receive a PhD from the Florida State University Department of Meteorology, one of the nation’s oldest and respected. He is also the 2nd African American to preside over the American Meteorological Society. He is a member of the AMS, Association of American Geographers (AAG), Sigma Xi Research Honorary, Chi Epsilon Pi Meteorology Honorary, and Omicron Delta Kappa National Honorary. He is also a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and serves on various National Boards associated with his alma mater. Dr. Shepherd co-authored a children’s book on weather and weather instruments called Dr. Fred’s Weather Watch. Dr. Shepherd is originally from Canton, Georgia. He is married to Ayana Shepherd and has two kids, Anderson and Arissa.

Frank Cepollina Maniac Lecture

August 28

Frank Cepollina, 2003 National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductee, presented a Maniac lecture entitled "Servicing and NASA." Frank gave a rundown of his career in servicing spacecraft going back to 1970 and talked about the future of servicing and scientific missions working together in the future.


Associate Director, Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Known as the "Father of On-Orbit Servicing," Frank “Cepi” Cepollina’s exceptional leadership has generated many of the groundbreaking concepts, designs and procedures that have kept the Hubble Space Telescope at the cutting edge of technology throughout its long lifespan.

Frank J. “Cepi” Cepollina championed the idea of in-orbit servicing for satellites. His vision included the redesign of spacecraft to make them modular and hence serviceable.

Mr. Cepollina joined NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in 1963. In 1984, he led the Solar Maximum repair mission – NASA’s first in-orbit repair mission to use the space shuttle. As manager of the Hubble Space Telescope Development Project, he was responsible for engineering the historic first Hubble repair mission in 1993, followed by four successful servicing missions to the space observatory. In 2003, Mr. Cepollina was inducted to the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his visionary work in modular spacecraft design and satellite servicing.

Mr. Cepollina’s work has led to important medical, manufacturing, and educational spin-offs. These include a Hubble Space Telescope instrument Charge Coupled Device (CCD) used for breast cancer detection; an intelligent, programmable, hand-held power tool developed for servicing Hubble that is now finding manufacturing applications; and highly sophisticated, precision Hubble-type optics being employed to produce smaller, denser, faster computer chips.

Mr. Cepollina now serves as Associate Director of NASA’s Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office. In this position, he is responsible for the formulation, development, and execution of a portfolio of technologies cultivated to provide satellite-servicing capabilities in support of Agency missions and national objectives.

Neil Gehrels Maniac Lecture

September 29

Astrophysicist Neil Gehrels presented a Maniac lecture entitled "Adventures in Astrophysics." Neil shared his passion and adventures in astrophysics, which traces back to his astronomer father, his physicist wife, a life-long career at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and good mentors.


Neil Gehrels is an experimental physicist working in gamma-ray astronomy. He is active in instrument development and data analysis, and dabbles in theory. His interests include gamma-ray bursts and supernovae. He is Principal Investigator for the Swift gamma-ray burst MIDEX (Medium-Class Explorers) mission. He did his PhD with Rochus Vogt and Ed Stone at Caltech on the discovery of accelerated oxygen and sulfur ions in the Jovian magnetosphere originating in the volcanoes of Io. Following a post-doc at Goddard Space Flight Center, he became a permanent employee as "astrophysicist" and then "Chief of the Astroparticle Physics Laboratory." Other responsibilities include Project Scientist for the Compton Observatory (1991-2000), Mission Scientist for INTEGRAL (International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory), a Deputy Project Scientist for Fermi, Project Scientist for WFIRST (Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope) and member LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) Science Collaboration. He is a past Chair of the AAS (American Astronomical Society) High Energy Astrophysics Division and the APS (American Physical Society) Division of Astrophysics, Fellow of the APS, and member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and National Academy of Sciences. His other interests include music and mountaineering. He climbed the Nose Route on El Capitan in Yosemite in a 6 day solo ascent in 2006. Neil’s wife, Ellen Williams, is Director of ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy) at the Department of Energy and is on leave as a Distinguished Professor of physics at the University of Maryland. He has two children, Tommy and Emily, born in 1987 and 1990). His father was Tom Gehrels, also an astronomer.

Spiro Antiochos Maniac Lecture

November 18

NASA Solar Scientist Spiro Antiochos presented a Maniac lecture entitled "Seeing the Light." Spiro shared his twists and turns from the last 40 years while trying to understand the workings of the Sun as revealed by observations, primarily from NASA missions, and passed on lessons learned on generating new ideas and theories that apply to all areas of science.


Dr. Antiochos is an internationally recognized authority on solar physics and plasma physics. His research is distinguished by the development of innovative models to explain major observational problems. His work relies heavily on magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) theory and state-of-the-art numerical simulation. Dr. Antiochos has made many fundamental advances to our understanding of the Sun and Heliosphere. Among his best-known contributions are the following: He performed the original analytic and numerical calculations of chromospheric evaporation - the response of the Sun's lower atmosphere to heating in the solar corona. He proposed the cool loop model for the transition region that links the upper and lower levels of the solar atmosphere. He is one of the founders of coronal loop theory, and his ideas on coronal plasma structure and dynamics are in widespread use today. Dr. Antiochos developed the thermal nonequilibrium model for the formation of coronal condensations. It is widely believed to be the definitive explanation for how cool filaments/prominences form in the hot corona, and is the basis for most of the current studies on coronal condensation formation. Dr. Antiochos proposed the 3D sheared arcade model for prominence magnetic fields, and verified with some of the first 3D MHD simulations of solar plasma that it produces a magnetic topology capable of supporting prominence material. The model is the basis for much of the present research on prominence structure and eruption. In another seminal contribution, Dr. Antiochos demonstrated how magnetic reconnection in a multi-polar topology can produce the explosive energy release required to explain coronal mass ejections and eruptive flares. His "breakout" model has spawned great theoretical and observational interest, and is being used throughout the world for the interpretation of coronal eruption observations. It also has major potential for application to space weather predictions. In recent work Dr. Antiochos has derived several far-reaching theorems on the topology of the Sun's open magnetic field regions, and has shown how magnetic reconnection determines the dynamical interaction of open and closed field. This work is critical for understanding how the Sun's atmosphere and magnetic couples to the heliosphere.

David Miller Maniac Lecture

December 2

NASA Chief Technologist David Miller presented a Maniac lecture entitled "Defying Gravity and Overcoming Inertia: a Systems Perspective." Dave shared his journey from MIT to the Air Force to NASA, from teaching to research to service, defying gravity, and overcoming inertia to do so, which has been his lifelong goal.


NASA Chief Technologist

Dr. David W. Miller began his term as the NASA chief technologist on March 17, 2014. He serves as the agency’s principal advisor and advocate on NASA technology policy and programs.

NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist coordinates, tracks and integrates technology investments across the agency and works to infuse innovative discoveries into future missions. The chief technologist leads NASA technology transfer and technology commercialization efforts, facilitating internal creativity and innovation, and works directly with other government agencies, the commercial aerospace community and academia.

Miller serves as chief technologist through an intergovernmental personnel agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is the Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and was the Director of the Space Systems Laboratory.

Miller has a strong NASA connection, having worked with a broad range of NASA programs including the space shuttle, the International Space Station, the JWST Product Integrity Team, and the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative. Most recently, he was the Principal Investigator for the Regolith X-ray Imaging Spectrometer for the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, and a NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts fellow. He also recently served as the Vice Chair of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.

He was the principal investigator for the Synchronized Position, Hold, Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, project on the International Space Station. SPHERES are bowling-ball-sized free-flying satellites that have been tested for various capabilities on the ISS since 2006. Miller was also the co-principal investigator for the Middeck Active Control Experiment, which was flown on STS-67 and again on the International Space Station.

At M.I.T. Miller’s work focuses on developing reconfigurable spacecraft concepts that permit repair, inspection, assembly, upgrade, fractionation and multi-mission functionality through proximity operations and docking of modular satellites using universal, standardized interfaces. He has also helped develop a technique to control satellite formations, without the need for propellant, using high temperature super-conducting electromagnets. His other research includes vibration suppression and isolation, and thin face-sheet active and adaptive optics.

Miller developed a unique, multi-semester, hands-on class at M.I.T. that immerses undergraduates in the end-to-end lifecycle process of developing and operating aerospace vehicles, some of which evolved into ISS laboratories. He has extended this educational model to the graduate level to provide Air Force officers with hands-on satellite development experience with five satellite systems currently under development.

Miller earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from MIT, and has been part of the faculty there since 1997.