NASA Scientist and former GRSS AdCom member Gail Skofronick Jackson dies in accident

NASA Scientist and former GRSS AdCom member Gail Skofronick Jackson dies in accident

Gail Skofronick

With a heavy heart, we announce that Dr. Gail Skofronick-Jackson, 58, of McLean, VA, died suddenly September 7th, 2021. Gail was deployed with a joint NASA-European Space Agency airborne campaign team in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. On a day off from the experiments, she perished in a tragic accident while hiking with colleagues.

Gail was a brilliant scientist—and a deeply passionate and principled person—who carried her enthusiasm for life over into her career at NASA. She was a dedicated researcher whose interests included passive remote sensing, radiative transfer theory, and detection and estimation of falling snow using active and passive spaceborne sensors.

Gail was born in Madison, WI, on February 12, 1963, and moved to Tallahassee in 1964 with her parents, Dr. James and Dot Skofronick. Gail received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Florida State University. She went on to complete her M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology after which she was hired at NASA. At the time of her death, she was a Program Manager at NASA Headquarters, Science Mission Directorate. Dr. Karen St. Germain, Director of the Earth Sciences Division at NASA Headquarters, and Gail’s longtime colleague stated that “she was one of our very best – brilliant, thoughtful, and deeply committed to the science we do and the integrity with which we do it. And she died being exactly who she was – an avid outdoors person, an athlete, and an admirer of our Earth.”

Gail is survived by her beloved husband of 29 years, Dr. David Jackson, and their children, Marina (25) and Matthew (22); her parents, Dr. James and Dot Skofronick of Tallahassee; brothers, Greg, of Ann Arbor, MI, and Gary (Anna) Skofronick of DeLand, FL; sister Gretchen (Dr. Paul) Desch of Naperville, IL; and many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Gail loved spending time with her family, traveling, and cooking gourmet meals with her husband. Her many interests included running, swimming, hiking, caving, and gardening. She was a dedicated mother who took great joy in her children’s numerous interests and activities. Gail cherished her many friends, especially in the McLean Moms Run This Town running community. She was also active in her church, the Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, DC.

A Celebration of Life is planned for Sunday, 14 Nov 2021, 2pm, at Foundry UMC, 1500 16th St., NW, Washington DC.

Gail was an IEEE Fellow and active within the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS), serving on its Administrative Committee (AdCom) from 2012 to 2016. She was Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing (TGARS) and the Geoscience and Remote Sensing Magazine (GRSM). She was also part of the local organizing committee for IGARSS 2020. Within GRSS Gail championed IEEE Women in Engineering, organized successful Women in GRSS (WinGRSS) events and paved the way for the GRSS Women Mentoring Women initiative.

Because Gail was always excited to encourage young women to pursue STEM careers, a memorial scholarship has been established in Dr. Gail Skofronick Jackson’s name for students studying science and electrical engineering at Florida State University. Information about this scholarship can be found at this web site: spark.fsu.edu/GailSkofronickJackson

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