Jennifer Lacey: Leading USGS in Space

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For this native South Dakotan, a love for math and a college trip to EROS in Sioux Falls, SD led to overseeing USGS's Landsat operations including the upcoming 2020 launch of Landsat 9. Read Jennifer's story and other #womeninscience stories at


Date Taken:

Length: 00:01:43

Location Taken: SD, US


Hi, I'm Jen Lacey. I'm the Observing

Systems Branch Chief here at the USGS

EROS Center and I oversee all of the

satellite mission development launch and

operations providing the Nation, and the

world, with high quality scientific

imagery. The images can be used by

scientists to study a very broad number

of changes to the landscape. Everything

from wildfires to deforestation to

natural hazards, just to name a few, are

utilized worldwide with the Landsat

imagery. As a student I knew I loved math.

I wasn't familiar with what type of

career I could have with a math degree.

That all changed with a field trip to

EROS. I saw the wonderful work taking

place there and realized that my passion

for math could be applied to the various

types of work being done there. I have

been able to turn that into a very

fulfilling career. Probably the proudest

moment of my career was the 2013 launch

of Landsat 8. To sit at the controls and

watch this rocket takeoff and knowing

that you led a team that helped make

that mission a success was extremely

rewarding. There's a huge number of

engineers and scientists needed in the

USGS and elsewhere and I would suggest

that even if you're not sure what field

you ultimately want to end up in that

you just stay focused on an area that

you're passionate about and doors will

open up for you down the road.

Being the mother of teenage daughters I

know how important it is to continue

studies in the areas of science,

technology, engineering, and math because

that way you are prepared to pursue

whatever type of career you want in the