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Meet Josh Fisher of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

Today we’d like to introduce you to Josh Fisher.

Josh, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m from Los Angeles and Alaska–two environmental polar opposites. I think all that back and forth got me interested in remote observation of the environment.

I went to UC Berkeley for college and majored in Environmental Sciences, mostly because it combined multiple sciences together (I was indecisive and couldn’t pick a science though I knew I liked science), and it got me a change to get outdoors. I stayed on at UC Berkeley for my Ph.D., where I began to play with satellites because they are cool. I was attracted to mathematical modeling and prediction of environmental behavior and found myself studying global-scale water cycling at about the same time that climate change was blowing up. I went to Oxford University for postdoctoral work, building nutrient cycling into the UK climate model.

And then I found myself in the Amazon and Andes for a few years leading an ecological experiment. After emerging from the jungle, I made my way back to LA to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where I worked to build up ecosystem science there. I proposed a space mission in 2013 to study how much water plants need and use worldwide; the mission was selected and launched to the International Space Station in 2018. I am the Science Lead of that mission, called ECOSTRESS. I’m also working on an airborne mission plan focused on the jungles of Costa Rica’s volcanoes, where we think there may be a window in the future of the Earth hidden.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I seek a non-smooth road, otherwise, it gets boring. Ultimately, though, it is smooth because I choose to focus on knowledge and science; all other bumps in the road fade with that focus.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
I work for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. We focus on space, science, and engineering. Half of what we do is about Earth, and I work on that.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Creativity, communication, scientific excellence.

Contact Info:

  • Twitter: @jawzsh

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