Maniac Talks

Upcoming Talks

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:

Dorothy Zukor Maniac Lecture

Dr. Dorothy J. Zukor, Associate Director for the Earth Sciences, NASA GSFC (Emeritus), presented a Maniac lecture entitled: "No”, does not mean never. It only means “Not Now”. Children have dreams and Dr. Zukor's dream was to work for NASA one day. She loved anything to do with space and wanted to be a part of it. Little did she know the tortuous paths she would take to ultimately get there. In this talk, she shared about the multiple “U turns in a tunnel” that she made and some key moments in her NASA career.

Dixon M. Butler Maniac Lecture

Dr. Dixon M. Butler, the Founder and President of YLACES, presented a Maniac lectured entitled, “The Making of a Science Bureaucrat with Vision and Leadership.” Dixon believes that helpers can come out of no where. Rejections can lead to better situations than what you had in mind. Love your work. Inspiration and creativity may take many forms. Let the mission lift you. Dixon shared stories from a non-linear career, including how NASA's largest science mission was conceived and sold.

Stamatios (Tom) Krimigis Maniac Lecture

Dr. Stamatios M. (Tom) Krimigis, Emeritus Head of the Space Exploration Sector of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), presented a Maniac lecture, entitled, “Flying an instrument to every planet, ad hoc: how to get lucky.” Tom counts being at the right place at the right time as the story of his career: as an undergrad in the U of Minnesota flying balloons, to being invited to Iowa by Van Allen and building 7 instruments in 5 years for Mars, Earth, Moon, Venus, Earth, in that order; and then leaving for JHU/APL to build instruments for IMP-7, 8, Voyager, AMPTE, Galileo, Ulysses, ACE, Cassini, NEAR, MESSENGER, New Horizons, and Parker Solar Probe. It has been quite a ride, including working with the Space Science Board of the Academy and with Congress in advancing NASA’s science program. And he is happy to still be here to finish “Completing Voyager’s 2 Quest through the Heliosphere to the Galaxy”, Nature Astronomy (in press), 2019.

Lucy McFadden Maniac Lecture

Lucy McFadden, Emerita, Planetary Systems Lab, Goddard Space Flight Center, presented a Maniac lecture entitled, “In the Name of Science: Some wild and crazy stories and concurrent advances in planetary science.” Lucy was born the fifth child of six in New York City during the baby-boom following the Second World War. She aspired to be a lepidopterist (after spending summers in elementary school outside of the City), a lawyer (after working on a local political campaign in high school in Massachusetts) and a photographer/film maker (after deciding not to compete with numerous class mates in college who went on to become serious contributors to documentary film making). How did she end up in the community of planetary scientists, a Co-Investigator of 3 NASA missions, a Chief for Higher Education at Goddard Space Flight Center, then Emerita-ville in 2016? Lucy shared a few discrete stories of obsessive enthusiasm leading to thrills, disappointments, but most of all the joys of exploring and understanding our solar system.

Stephen Jurczyk Maniac Lecture

Stephen Jurczyk, NASA Associate Administrator, presented a Maniac lecture entitled, “From HALOE to Headquarters: How did I ever end up here?” Steve shared his career journey from a design engineer on a Earth science remote sensing instrument to the Agency’s Associate Administrator, the top civil servant. He provided his thoughts on a variety of subjects including leadership, engineering, project management, risk taking and innovation.

Jennifer Wiseman Maniac Lecture

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.

H. Jay Zwally Maniac Lecture

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.

Edward Rogers Maniac Lecture

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.

Nicholas White Maniac Lecture

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.

Mark Clampin Maniac Lecture

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.