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:

January 23, 2019 H Jay Zwally Chief Cryosphere Scientist, NASA GSFC,
February 20, 2019 Nicholas E. White Senior Vice President for Science, Universities Space Research Association (USRA)
March 27, 2019 Colleen Hartman National Academy of Sciences,
April 30, 2019 Edward Rogers Chief Knowledge Officer, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
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,
October 23, 2019 Mark Clampin Director, Sciences and Exploration Directorate, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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.

Dennis J. Andrucyk Maniac Lecture

May 23

Dennis J. Andrucyk, Deputy Associate Administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, presented a Maniac lecture entitled, "Speak Your Mind, but Ride a Fast Horse; From GS-1 to SES. How in the world did that happen?" As kids, many of us think about what we “want to be” when we “grow up”… but that didn’t really happen for Dennis … it would have been impossible to plan his career the way it played out… change was a constant… in the end, and fortunately, he wouldn’t want to change a thing (okay… well… maybe a couple of things). Dennis shared a few career strategies, how he misread a couple of things along the way, applying for jobs (particularly SES), and the “art” of saying yes to new opportunities.


Dennis Andrucyk became the Deputy Associate Administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in 2017. From 2015-2017, he served as NASA’s acting chief technologist and as deputy associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). From 2003-2015, Andrucyk held many senior executive positions at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, including Director of the Applied Engineering & Technology Directorate, Chief of the Software Engineering Division, and Chief of the Mission Engineering and Systems Analysis Division. Before joining NASA in 1988, Andrucyk worked at the Department of Defense as both a contractor and a civil servant. He also served with the National Security Agency (1977-1978), the Naval Research Laboratory (1980-1982), Westinghouse (1982-1983), General Electric (1983-1987) and Northrop Grumman (1987-1988).

Andrucyk served on several national and international space partnership teams including the U.S.-based Space Technology Alliance as one of three voting members on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Sensors & Electronics Technology (SET) panel. He also served as NASA co-lead on the Interagency Space Science and Technology Partnership Forum, along with members of the Air Force Space Command and the National Reconnaissance Office.

Andrucyk earned the Senior Executive Service Meritorious Presidential Rank Award, the NASA Medal for Outstanding Leadership, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the Goddard Outstanding Leadership Honor Award, and the Goddard Exceptional Achievement Award in Diversity and Equal Employment Opportunity. In 2000, he was selected as a Goddard Senior Fellow.

Andrucyk graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1982.

Christopher J. Scolese Maniac Lecture

June 28

Dr. Christopher J. Scolese, the center director of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, presented a Maniac lecture entitled, “Fins to Computers.” “Fins to Computers” is about Chris determining what he wanted to be when he grew up. He knew from an early age that he wanted to be an engineer. Through engineering, he learned that not all rockets needed a fin to fly. Different people helped him along the way, some famous and some not so famous, but all important to his path to NASA and Goddard.


Christopher J. Scolese is the director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, a position he assumed in March 2012. He began his career with NASA in 1987 and has served in numerous leadership roles. He became the Associate Administrator, one of the agency’s highest ranking civil servant positions at NASA Headquarters (2008-2012), which made him responsible for the oversight and integration of NASA’s programmatic and technical efforts to ensure the successful accomplishment of the agency’s overall mission. For a brief period, January-July 2009, Scolese served as NASA’s acting administrator, where he was responsible for leading the development, design, and implementation of the nation’s civil space program. Scolese also served as NASA’s Chief Engineer (2005-2007), Deputy Director of the Goddard Space Flight Center (2004-2005), Deputy Associate Administrator in the Office of Space Science (2001-2004), Earth Science Program Manager/Deputy Director Flight Projects (1999-2001), Project Manager for EOS-1 later Terra spacecraft (1992-1998) and System Engineer various projects and EOS (1987-1992).

Before joining NASA, he worked at General Research Corporation of McLean as a senior analyst (1986-1987) and US Navy Officer (Lt.)/Engineer Naval Reactors (1977-1986), where he was selected by Admiral Hyman Rickover to serve at Naval Reactors and was associated with the development of instrumentation, instrument systems, and multi-processor systems for the U.S. Navy and the Department of Energy while working for Naval Sea Systems Command.

Scolese is the recipient of numerous honors including the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive, the NASA Distinguished Leadership Medal; Goddard Out-standing Leadership, two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) National Capital Section Young Engineer/Scientist of the Year award. He was recognized as one of the outstanding young men in America in 1986, was a member of college honor societies including Eta Kappa Nu and Tau Beta Pi, and was recipient of the 1973 Calspan Aeronautics award. He is a Fellow of the AIAA and a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He also served as a member of the AIAA Astrodynamics Technical Committee and chaired the National Capitol Section Guidance Navigation and Control Technical Committee.

Scolese, received a BS in electrical engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1978, MS (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) at George Washington University (GW) in 1982 and PhD (System Engineering) also at GW in 2016 . He received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Buffalo in 2015.

Gerald R. North Maniac Lecture

September 26

Dr. Gerald “Jerry” R. North, Distinguished Professor (Emeritus), Texas A&M University, presented a Maniac lecture entitled, “The Rise of Climate Science, a Memoir by Gerald R. North.” This is the story of Jerry’s life and career as he started in Appalachia, as he became educated as a physicist, became a tenured faculty member, changed his path to climate science just as the field was beginning. He interacted with many different countries and institutions, eventually arriving at GSFC, where he was the first study scientist for TRMM. Finally, Jerry moved to Texas A&M University, where he has continued for the last 32 years. From his vantage point, Jerry has been able to see trends in the science and the institutions.


Dr. Gerald “Jerry” R. North is a Distinguished Professor (Emeritus), Texas A&M University.

Dr. North graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1960 with a BS degree in Physics and Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1966. From 1966-1968, he worked at the University of Pennsylvania as a postdoc and later obtained a tenure track position at the University of Missouri-St. Louis leading to the rank of full professor (1968-1978). From 1974–75, he was a Senior Visiting Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He moved to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in 1978, where he was lead proposer with Tom Wilheit and Otto Thiele for the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission. He joined Texas A&M University in 1986 as University Distinguished Professor of Meteorology and Oceanography. He is the inaugural Holder of the Harold J. Haynes Endowed Chair in Geosciences at Texas A&M University (2003-2008), and Head of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences (1995-2003).

Dr. North's research interests include solving mathematical and statistical problems in climate science. From 2005 to 2006, he chaired the United States National Research Council committee investigating surface temperature reconstructions for the last 2,000 years, set up at the request of Representative Sherwood Boehlert, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science. Their report, published in July 2006, is known as the North Report. He is the 2008 recipient of the Jule Charney Award of the American Meteorological Society and gave the Robert E. Horton Lecture in Hydrology for 2018, “For pioneering contributions to understanding the statistical nature of precipitation and to measuring precipitation from space.” North’s new book: The Rise of Climate Science, a Memoir by Gerald R. North will be published by Texas A&M Press in early 2019.

Robert W. Corell Maniac Lecture

November 13

Dr. Robert W. Corell, Chair, Arctic Climate Impact Assessment & Principal, Global Envi-ronment and Technology Foundation, presented a Maniac lecture entitled, “Science Goes Global.” This Maniac Talk is about “Science Goes Global,” a quest for centuries that began with Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher, alluding to a “Spherical Earth.” Humankind ever since has sought to understand and exploit an understanding of a global Earth. This talk is designed to tell personal stories, examples of extraordinary scientific leadership, actions often unexpected in government programs and unparalleled personal dedication that have occurred over the past 50 years. It is argued that science going global has substantially enhanced scientific understanding and projections of natural and human-caused changes in the Earth’s environment on time scales of hours to years and beyond.


Dr. Robert W. Corell is an Adjunct Professorship at the University of Miami’s Department of Ocean Sciences and holds a professorship at the University of the Arctic. The is a Principal at the Global Environment Technology Foundation where he leads its Center for Energy and Climate Solutions. He has several recent academic appointments, including the Arctic Chair at the University of Tromsø, Norway. He is Chief Scientist at the International Sea Level Institute. He is a Senior Fellow at the the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. He was a Council Member of the Global Energy Assessment (GEA) and lead author of GEA’s Chapter 3 on Environment and Energy. He led the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (2005) and most recently lead a comprehensive study of governance issues in the circumpolar Arctic. In 2013, chaired and was the lead author of the 2013 UNEP Year Book on “The View from the Top Searching for Responses to a Rapidly Changing Arctic” and more recently, the Co-Chair of the 2016 UNEP’s GEO-6 North American Regional Assessment. He was recognized with the other scientists for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments. In 2008 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science, University of Alaska, Anchorage and in 2010, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Veterinarian Medicine by the Norges Veterinærhøgskole (Norwegian School of Veterinarian Science). In 2017, Case Western Reserve University Case Alumni Association awarded him the Gold Medal Award for lifetime achievements. A circular mountain region forming the head of a glacier in Antarctica was named in 2003 the “Corell Cirque” by the Board on Geographical Names (79°54′00″S, 155°57′00″E).

Dr. Corell is actively engaged in research concerned with the sciences of global change and the interface between science and public policy, particularly research activities that are focused on the science of global and regional climate change. This effort is designed to facilitate understanding of vulnerability and sustainable development. For example, he is a lead author in the 2011, 2016 and 2017 North Pacific Arctic Conference’s Annual book, the last of which is titled: A North Pacific Dialogue on Building Capacity for a Sustainable Arctic in a Changing Global Order. He has published several dozen peer-reviewed articles and book chapters during the past decade, a recent example is 2016 GEO-6 Global Environment Outlook: Regional Assessment for North America, UN Environment Programme and 2017 Chapter 6 Impact analysis and consequences of change. Adaptation Actions for Changing Arctic (AACA), Arctic Council and AMAP and the section author of the book, “2052 - A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years” by Jorgen Randers, that provides mid-century global climate projections. He is a Science Advisor to the National Geographic “Years of Living Dangerously” TV series.

Dr. Corell was Assistant Director for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation (1987-2000) where he had oversight for the Atmospheric, Earth, Ocean Sciences, Polar Programs and was Chair of the United States Global Change Research Program (1987-2000), the latter reporting to the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. He was also a professor and academic administrator at the University of New Hampshire. Dr. Corell is an oceanographer and engineer by background and training, having received Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. degrees at Case Western Reserve University and MIT. He has also held visiting scientist appointments at the Woods Hole Institution of Oceanography, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of Washington. He is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences and a member of the U.S. National Committee at the National Academy of Sciences for International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, Austria.

Christa Peters-Lidard Maniac Lecture

November 28

Dr. Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Deputy Director for Hydrosphere, Biosphere, and Geophysics in the Earth Sciences Division, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), presented a Maniac lecture entitled, “My childhood dream came true—what’s next?” From tomboy to cheerleader to math contests, Christa’s path to NASA has been built on a fascination with nature, early inspiration from the space shuttle program, and a love for Earth Science. A series of steps with key mileposts led her to GSFC. Along the way she learned a bit about geophysics, hydrology, soil moisture, high performance computing, and land-atmosphere interactions. Looking forward, Earth science in general, and hydrology specifically is in the midst of a revolution. Christa discussed this 4th paradigm and how NASA/GSFC can lead the way.


Dr. Christa D. Peters-Lidard is currently the Deputy Director for Hydrosphere, Biosphere, and Geophysics in the Earth Sciences Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. She was a Physical Scientist in the Hydrological Sciences Laboratory from 2001-2015, and Lab Chief from 2005-2012. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Geophysics and a minor in Mathematics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in 1991. She then went on to earn her M.A. and Ph.D. from the Water Resources Program in the Department of Civil Engineering and Operations Research at Princeton University in 1993 and 1997, respectively. Dr. Peters-Lidard was an Assistant Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology from 1997 to 2001. She is currently the Chief Editor for the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Journal of Hydrometeorology, and has served as an elected member of the AMS Council and Executive Committee. She has also served as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Hydrology and Water Resources Research. Her research interests include land-atmosphere interactions, soil moisture measurement and modeling, and the application of high performance computing and communications technologies in Earth system modeling, for which her Land Information System team was awarded the 2005 NASA Software of the Year Award. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and was awarded the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Scientific Commission A Zeldovich Medal in 2004 and the Arthur S. Flemming Award in 2007. She was elected as an AMS Fellow in 2012 and an AGU Fellow in 2018.