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:

Christa Peters-Lidard Maniac Lecture

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.

Robert W. Corell Maniac Lecture

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.

Gerald R. North Maniac Lecture

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.

Christopher J. Scolese Maniac Lecture

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.

Dennis J. Andrucyk Maniac Lecture

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.

Gavin A. Schmidt Maniac Lecture

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.

Elizabeth M. Middleton Maniac Lecture

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.

Samuel H. Moseley Maniac Lecture

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.