Gail Skofronick-Jackson

IPWG announces that its member Dr. Gail Skofronick-Jackson, 58, of McLean, VA, died suddenly in an accident 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. She 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. Before taking this responsibility Gail worked in various capacities at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD beginning in 1997, including as a Post-Doc Research Associate, the Chief of the NASA Goddard Mesoscale Atmospheric Processes Laboratory, and as a Project Scientist for the NASA Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. 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."

At IPWG we remember her taking active part in our meetings and supporting the work of our community. She always managed to dedicate time and efforts even when her duties were highly demanding. She helped organizing every year the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly session on "Precipitation: Measurement, Climatology, Remote Sensing, and Modelling", which represented an important yearly milestone for the precipitation community. On top of everything, Gail cared for young scientists who saw in her an example and someone they could address directly and receive a friendly response. She was a caring human being and young people perceived it at first glance. Gail is remembered as someone who put people first and cared for everyone she worked with. She always asked about you and your family, because she really cared.

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 organized countless runs where sport was important but even more so was friendship. 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

Some photos to remember Gail

Her favourite environment: field campaigns

Gail in her element: snow. Ontario, Canada, January 2007, at the ECCC/CARE site doing snow work for C3VP. The picture is taken in front of a 2DVD. (Photo courtesy of Walt Petersen)

Launching a balloon at the CARE site in Canada during GCPEx (10 February 2012). (Photo and movie courtesy of Chris Kidd)

Conferences and public events: meeting people and discuss science

At the 3rd IWSSM snow workshop in Granau, Germany on 1 April 2011. (Photo courtesy of Chris Kidd)

Talking to the future generation of scientists at the Explore Goddard Openday at NASA/GSFC together with George Huffman on 14 May 2011. (Photo courtesy of Chris Kidd)

At the 8th IPWG and 5th IWSSM joint workshop in Bologna, Italy in October 2016. Presenting GPM in front of session chairs Ralph Ferraro and Kazumasa Aonashi, and talking to Sarah Ringerud and Eric Stocker. (Photos courtesy of Vincenzo Levizzani)

Socializing and sport

Meditating on the next move at the PMM Meeting in Denver on 10 November 2011. (Photo courtesy of Chris Kidd)

At an Italian restaurant in Tsukuba with friends during the IPWG Workshop on 20 November 2014. To the left of the table: Takuji Kubota, Yukari Takayabu, Joe Turk, George Huffman, Chris Kidd, Wei-Kuo Tao. To the right: Ralph Ferraro, Gail, Rémy Roca, Steve Neeck, Bob Adler (Photo courtesy of Yukari Takayabu, taken by Vincenzo Levizzani)

Smiling together: Sarah Ringerud, Christa Peters-Lidard and Gail. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Ringerud)

Having a good time: Sarah Ringerud, Nai-Yu Wang, Gail and Christa Peters-Lidard. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Ringerud)

Running, a true passion 1: Christa Peters-Lidard, Gail, and Sarah Ringerud. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Ringerud)

Running, a true passion 2: Gail and Sarah Ringerud. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Ringerud)

Running, a true passion 3: Gail, Dalia Kirschbaum and Joe Munchak in front of the White House in January 2019. (Photo courtesy of Joe Munchak)

This page was made possible by the contributions of George Huffman, Chris Kidd, Dalia Kirschbaum, Takuji Kubota, Vincenzo Levizzani, Lisa Milani, Joe Munchak, Christa Peters-Lidard, Walt Petersen, Sarah Ringerud, Yukari Takayabu and Joe Turk.