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PACE Project Science Team

= Biogeochemistry   = Bio-optics   = Hardware   = Ocean Color Atmospheric Correction   = Ocean Color Instrument - Atmosphere   = Outreach   = Polarimetry   = Software

Project Scientists

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Jeremy Werdell
Project Scientist    
Dr. Jeremy Werdell is an Oceanographer in the Ocean Ecology Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), where he also serves as the Project Scientist for PACE. Jeremy resolved to become a marine scientist in 1988 upon his return from an eighth grade science trip to the Bermuda Biological Station for Research. He joined GSFC in 1999, where he has remained ever since in the pursuit of improving our understanding of the ocean’s biological responses to Earth’s changing climate – namely, how the spatial distributions of phytoplankton communities evolve over time. Given that Jeremy wears a NASA badge, his mandatory secondary interests extend to the more challenging aspects of satellite remote sensing, including the on-orbit calibration of ocean color instruments, the development of remote-sensing algorithms, and the validation of satellite-derived data products. These, in combination with his subject matter living in a three-dimensional fluid on a rotating ellipsoid, create a research environment packed with opportunities to contribute to NASA’s pursuit of better understanding our home planet.
Antonio Mannino
Deputy Project Scientist, Oceans    
Antonio Mannino (Ph.D.), research oceanographer of the Ocean Ecology Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center since 2002, is currently deputy project scientist for Oceans on NASA's PACE mission. He also serves as deputy principal investigator on the NASA GLIMR EVI-5 mission and acting instrument scientist for the NOAA-NASA GeoXO OCX mission. As a sea-going oceanographer, Mannino has served as chief scientist and technical officer on multiple oceanographic cruises working in all major oceans with the exception of the Indian Ocean. Mannino has published several articles on coastal ocean biogeochemistry of dissolved and particulate organic matter and ocean color satellite algorithms. His current research applies field observations, satellite data, and 3D coupled models to study carbon cycle processes and phytoplankton community composition from rivers to oceans.
Brian Cairns
Deputy Project Scientist, Atmosphere    
Brian Cairns (Ph.D.) research scientist at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center since 2007, is currently deputy project scientist for Atmospheres on NASA's PACE mission. Dr. Cairns was instrument scientist for the Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor on the NASA Glory mission that failed to make orbit and so is extremely glad that the PACE mission will have two polarimeters as part of its payload, in addition to the primary OCI sensor. Dr. Cairns has been working on making and analyzing polarimetric observations of aerosols and clouds since the late 1990s and has successfully operated his Research Scanning Polarimeter sensor in more than 20 field campaigns from Namibia to the Arctic and the Azores to the Philippines. Dr. Cairns and his group have published extensively on remote sensing methods that use polarimetric measurements to determine the microphysical properties of aerosols and clouds. His current research is focused on improving observations to diagnose how aerosols and clouds interact with one another.

Project Science Discipline Leads

Have a question about a specific PACE discipline? Please contact any of the folks below.
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Ivona Cetinić
Project Science Discipline Lead (Biogeochemistry)    
Dr. Cetinić develops new ways of resolving ocean biogeochemistry and phytoplankton diversity from satellite and other remote observations. Her research focuses on phytoplankton diversity from space, tracking flow of carbon in the ocean using optics, interplay between physics and biology, and understanding the limitations of current approaches to improve the way we will see phytoplankton with Ocean Color Instrument (and she hopes polarimeters too).
Amir Ibrahim
Project Science Discipline Lead (Ocean Color Atmospheric Correction)    
Dr. Ibrahim is a member of the ocean ecology lab at NASA Goddard and is the PACE Project Science lead for atmospheric correction. His research activities involve developing and evaluating atmospheric correction methods for the derivation of ocean color from the Ocean Color Instrument (OCI) combined with multi-angle polarimeters (SPEXone and HARP2). His expertise and research interests are: radiative transfer modeling; polarimetric and hyperspectral remote sensing; inverse modeling; AI/ML algorithms; uncertainties quantification using statistical techniques (e.g., Bayesian statistics).
Kirk Knobelspiesse
Project Science Discipline Lead (Polarimetry)    
Dr. Knobelspiesse develops optical satellite remote sensing methods for understanding of the Earth's climate. This includes expertise in radiative transfer computations, information content assessment, algorithm development, and validation with ground and airborne observations. Specific interests include polarimetric remote sensing of aerosols and clouds, atmospheric correction required for ocean color observations, and the statistical and AI tools useful for both.
Lachlan McKinna
Project Science Discipline Lead (Bio-optics)    
Dr. McKinna specializes in using satellites to observe how light scatters and absorbs in the Earth's oceans. Dr McKinna's research focuses on the development, implementation, testing, and continual improvement of bio-optical algorithms for NASA-supported ocean color sensors including PACE's Ocean Color Instrument (OCI). His research interests and expertise include: inverse modelling, hydrologic optics, marine radiative transfer, uncertainty analysis, optically shallow waters, Trichodesmium detection, and marine water quality monitoring.
Andrew M. Sayer
Project Science Discipline Lead (Ocean Color Instrument - Atmosphere)    
Dr. Sayer is PACE's Project Science Lead for OCI Atmospheres. PACE's OCI instrument will allow us to routinely produce high quality data sets about atmospheric aerosol and cloud properties. He conducts his own research, and works with others on the PACE team, to develop and evaluate algorithms to make these data as high quality and useful as we can. Andy can often be found outdoors, with a book, or in the kitchen.

Other Team Members

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Bridget Seegers
Dr. Seegers is a research scientist in the Ocean Ecology Lab with expertise on the remote sensing of harmful algal blooms in both fresh water and marine ecosystems. Her focus is on improving algorithm performance assessment and validation, in addition to understanding the ecology and variables that contribute to harmful algal blooms. She enjoys outreach and education that informs and excites the public about ocean research and NASA science. She is known for engaging science presentations given to a range of audiences from school groups, to crowds in pubs, as well as to policy makers and resource managers.
Natasha Sadoff
Project Applications Deputy Coordinator    
Ms. Sadoff is the NASA PACE Project Applications Deputy Coordinator, where she organizes and implements NASA PACE Applications activities such as workshops, community assessments, focus sessions, and other means of partnership development. She builds relationships with a wide variety of decision-makers and stakeholders who are interested in the use of NASA Earth observations in applications across thematic areas such as air quality, water quality, disasters, climate, and other areas. She also contributes to outreach and engagement to expand the PACE community and improve the visibility of the mission.

Ms. Sadoff is a geographer and social scientist who works at the nexus of environmental management, governance, and earth science. She has over twelve years of experience connecting data users and stakeholders to resources to improve decision-making and governance in areas such as climate change adaptation and resilience; energy management; air quality; solid waste management; and other areas. She facilitates stakeholder needs assessments, user engagement, training and outreach, and capacity building/development, particularly in the usage of Earth observations for societal benefit. She is currently serving as the NASA PACE Project Applications Deputy Coordinator.
Martin A. Montes
Dr. Montes is a scientific programmer/analyst in NASA's Sciences and Exploration Directorate. His research interests include scattering LiDAR in aquatic environments, statistical modeling of continental aerosols, and toxic phytoplankton blooms.
Meng Gao
Meng Gao is a data scientist of the Ocean Ecology Laboratory (OEL) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He currently supports the polarimetry software and algorithm development for the PACE Science Data Segment, with a focus on aerosol and ocean color remote sensing. His research interest and expertise include light scattering and radiative transfer modeling, remote sensing inversion, machine learning and AI.
Guoqing Wang
Guoqing Wang is a research scientist of the Ocean Ecology Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Her research focuses on remote sensing of phytoplankton, including algorithm development and application in pigment, size class, functional types and harmful algal bloom detections. Her research extends to validation of in situ and satellite observed optical properties and bio-optical algorithm development. Guoqing is well experienced with field and lab measurements of phytoplankton taxonomy (using IFCB), their optical properties and pigment concentration.
Aimee R. Neeley
Dr. Neeley is a member of the Ocean Ecology Laboratory and Field Support Group that collects in situ optical and biogeochemical data for Earth science climate data records and other supporting data records used for ocean color satellite vicarious calibration, data product validation, and bio-optical algorithm development. Her expertise includes phytoplankton ecology, HPLC pigments, measurements of particle absorption and retrieval of community composition from remote sensing. Her tasks include the quality evaluation of absorption and pigment data sets submitted to the SeaBASS repository by NASA-funded investigators and measurements of phytoplankton taxonomy using a FlowCAM. She has attained degrees in both marine biology and biological oceanography, with a recent focus on Arctic ecology and biogeochemistry.
Susanne Craig
System Vicarious Calibration Lead    
Dr. Craig is a physicist and oceanographer who uses optical measurements to elucidate biogeochemical processes in the ocean and their response to a changing climate. She is the Project Science Lead for system vicarious calibration (SVC), the process that uses high quality in situ measurements to ensure that the Ocean Color Instrument (OCI) on PACE maintains its calibration throughout the mission. Her areas of expertise lie in ocean color remote sensing, bio-optics, algorithm development, phytoplankton ecology, radiative transfer, and the development of machine learning approaches for deriving ecological information from ocean color. Other areas of research interest include the development of airborne autonomous platforms for investigating the role of ocean biology in forming secondary organic aerosols important in global climate forcing and air quality.
Chris Proctor
Chris Proctor is a member of the Ocean Ecology Lab (OEL) where he leads NASA's SeaWiFS Bio-optical Archive and Storage System (i.e., SeaBASS). The SeaBASS team and systems are responsible for archiving and distributing in situ oceanographic datasets, primarily optical and biogeochemical measurements. SeaBASS also hosts a number of web-based tools and services, which include results from satellite validation and algorithm development activities. His expertise and interests include oceanography, data management, data analysis, developing software and systems, ocean color remote sensing, and satellite validation.
Ryan Vandermeulen
Ryan Vandermeulen is a member of the Field Support Group within the Ocean Ecology Laboratory. His expertise resides in advancing the development, evaluation, and implementation of biophysical algorithms, with a specific focus on informing new ways of resolving ocean biogeochemistry and rate processes based on in situ optical variability, as well as hyperspectral and high temporal frequency (geostationary) radiometric satellite data. Beyond his technical roles, Ryan also strives to promote and develop materials that ignite the interest of a broader public audience in the science of our natural world.
Minwei Zhang
Minwei Zhang is a member of the Ocean Ecology Laboratory where he has been involved in the implementation of ocean color algorithms for PACE Science Data Segment. His research mainly focusses on ocean color retrievals from remotely sensed data collected from spaceborne and airborne platforms, as well as the uncertainty propagation through the retrieval process to generate pixel-level uncertainties in the ocean color products.
Erin Urquhart
Project Applications Coordinator    
Dr. Erin Urquhart is an applied environmental scientist who leads the PACE Applications program. She works at the transdisciplinary boundary of earth science, social science, and public health using principals of Design Thinking, user experience, participatory research, and team science. Erin engages the PACE user community and stakeholders to identify their needs and science objectives while exploring innovative and practical uses of future PACE data products across thematic areas including air quality and health, water resources, ecological forecasting, disasters, and climate. Her specific applied science interests include coastal and inland water quality, empirical modeling, and environmental public health. Dr. Urquhart also contributes to outreach and engagement to expand the PACE community and improve the visibility of the mission.
 Sanjuan Calzado
Violeta Sanjuan Calzado
Dr. Sanjuan Calzado is the science lead for the high quality in-situ dataset NOMAD, NASA bio-Optical Marine Algorithm Dataset, used for validation activities and algorithm development in support of PACE activities. Her work also includes revision of QC control metrics for SeaBASS data archive, data submission requirements and QA/QC of existing and newly submitted data. She also develops radiometric processing guidelines and software in support of validation activities within OEL. Her interests include radiometry protocols and calibration requirements, QC metrics and uncertainty estimates.
Fred Patt
Science Operations Manager    
Mr. Patt is the PACE Project Science lead for science operations planning, including instrument calibration maneuvers; geolocation; and the spacecraft interface.  He is also the Science Data Segment systems engineer and operations lead.
Mr. Patt has been supporting scientific satellite missions at Goddard Space Flight Center for over 40 years, and has been a member of the Ocean Color team for 30 years.  Prior to working on Ocean Color he worked on the COBE mission, which was the subject of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2016, and in the Flight Dynamics Facility.
Ian Carroll
Dr. Carroll is an associate research scientist specializing in phytoplankton community ecology and data science. Phytoplankton are a diverse collection of photosynthetic organisms that range in size from less-than a micron to millimeters in length; however, their presence in the photic zone can be detected from space due to their light absorbing pigments. Dr. Carroll investigates machine learning approaches to predicting the community composition (abundances of each type) of phytoplankton using data from ocean color instruments.
Dirk Aurin
Dr. Aurin's work in the Ocean Ecology Laboratory focuses on bringing together light field measurements in the sea with observations of waterborne constituents and optical properties to both develop ocean color algorithms for retrieving those properties from space, and to validate orbital observations such as those from PACE OCI. This encompasses field radiometry from instruments on ships, towers, buoys, and profilers as well as satellite imagery, including most recently exploring the radiometric quality of the rapidly growing volume of commercial imagery becoming available today. He also develops open-source community processors for autonomous field radiometry. Outside of work, Dr. Aurin is an avid blue-water sailor.
Gerhard Meister
OCI Instrument Scientist    
Dr. Meister is the Instrument Scientist for the Ocean Color Instrument (OCI) on the PACE mission. He has been involved in the design of OCI and its predecessors. He is currently engaged in testing the flight unit of OCI, and will be responsible for providing the on-orbit calibration and characterization of OCI.