Stephen Ungar Maniac Lecture

Personal Photograph

Dr. Stephen G. Ungar currently occupies a position as a Scientist Emeritus at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), with a half-time appointment as a Senior Research Scientist at the University Space Research Association (USRA) under the NASA/USRA Goddard Earth Sciences, Technology and Research (GESTAR) program. He also participates in the formulation of NASA’s future Hyperspectral Infrared Imager (HyspIRI) Mission as a member of both the HyspIRI Steering Committee and the HyspIRI Science Study Group.

Dr. Ungar began his 45+ year association with NASA at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City. Although originally trained as an astrophysicist, he gained considerable experience in remote sensing of the earth's surface throughout his career. He was Director of the Earth Resources Program at NASA GISS from the program's inception in 1971 until its components were transferred to GSFC in 1982 as part of the refocusing of the GISS mission to Climate Research. During his time at GISS he participated in the Large Area Crop Inventory Experiment (LACIE) and the Agristars project. He was a member of the working group that helped define the spectral, spatial and radiometric characteristics for the first Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) sensor. The GISS group was particularly active in the production of simulated TM scenes based on airborne sensor system observations, prior to the launch of the first TM instrument.

In subsequent years, Dr. Ungar was heavily involved in major NASA remote sensing field programs, including the First ISLSCP Field Experiment (FIFE) and the Boreal Ecosystem-Atmosphere Study (BOREAS). He was selected as one of nine American PI's to participate in the Soviet-sponsored FIFE follow-on experiment (KUREX) conducted at the Kursk Biospheric Sciences Preserve in the former Soviet Union. After relocating to GSFC in 1991, he participated on both the MODIS Characterization Support Team (MCST) and the MODIS Science Data Support Team (SDST) and served as Deputy Project Scientist for NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) located at GSFC.

Dr. Ungar served as the Earth-Observing 1 (EO-1) Mission Scientist from the mission's inception in 1996 until his retirement from NASA in April 2008. He was Team Leader of the award winning EO-1 Science Validation Team (SVT), consisting of 31 Principle Investigators, selected by a competitive peer reviewed process. He also served as the Project Scientist for NASA's Morning Constellation, consisting of the Landsat-7, EO-1, SAC-C, and Terra satellites flying in formation. Upon retirement, Dr. Ungar received a Scientist Emeritus appointment at the NASA GSFC. Additionally, he held the position of Senior Research Scientist at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) from July 2008 until transitioning to USRA in May 2011. Dr. Ungar participates in many international venues and served as Chair of the Committee on Earth Observing Satellites (CEOS) Working Group on Calibration and Validation (WGCV). He served as Task Leader for the GEO Task on Data Quality Assurance across the 9 GEO Societal Benefit Areas and was an official delegate to the 2007 GEO Earth Summit in Cape Town, South Africa.

Among dozens of awards received during his extensive career, Dr. Ungar received the prestigious “NASA Medal for Exceptional Achievement”, on December 4th, 2002. Most recently, he received the Goddard Earth Sciences Technology and Research “2015 Exceptional Service Award” for “his sustained contributions to the Earth Observing-1 Mission (EO-1) satellite and the Hyperspectral Infrared Imager (HyspIRI)”.