Ph.D., 35 Deputy Project Scientist – Global Precipitation Measurement and Research Meteorologist, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
It started with a sixth-grade science project entitled, “Can a Sixth Grader Predict the Weather?”
“I knew then what field I wanted to go into,” says J. Marshall Shepherd, a research meteorologist in the Earth-Sun Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Shepherd, who holds a bachelor’s degree in meteorology and a master’s and doctorate in physical meteorology from Florida State University, is a vital voice in new satellite missions to understand how the Earth is changing and the consequences of those changes for mankind. He is deputy mission scientist for the $1 billion Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission.
Beyond NASA, he is a member of the National Science Foundation Advisory Council and the U.N. World Meteorological Organization steering committee. Shepherd co-authored the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. He was nominated recently for membership in the prestigious American Meteorological Society Council. Small wonder, then, that he was honored at the White House in 2004 with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest award of its kind in the nation, for cutting-edge research and development.
He has many to thank for his achievements, Shepherd says: his mother, who gave him a solid upbringing, encouragement and exposure to many things; his wife, whom he describes as “supportive” and who “encourages my endeavors at all times”; and mentors Franco Einaui and Peter Ray, who provided him with “support, contacts and opportunities at NASA.”
Shepherd and his wife have a 20-month-old daughter. He enjoys sports, fitness training and Scrabble when he is not working. He is active in his community, a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., president of the Washington, D.C.-Area FSU Black Alumni Association and sits on the board of directors of the Alpha Foundation of Howard County, which funds scholarships and educational activities for African-American youth. With all that, he hopes to run for Congress “when the time is right.”