August 28, 2008 Space-Based Ornithology to be Discussed By NASA Scientist, Sept. 10

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Science, Technology and Business Division (202) 707-5664; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (301) 614-6627

James Smith, NASA senior scientist, was watching birds at a backyard feeder not long ago, when he began to consider the possibility of studying man’s feathered friends from space. Could spaced-based observations be used to reveal changes in bird migration? According to Smith, changes in avian diversity and in patterns of bird migration present some of the most compelling and challenging problems of modern biology, with important implications for human health and conservation ecology. Smith will address the topic in a lecture titled “Space-Based Ornithology: On the Wings of Migration and Biophysics” at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 10, in the Mary Pickford Theater on the third floor of the Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; tickets are not required. Smith’s talk will cover his development of tools that might help to answer questions on how drought, floods and changing climate affect bird migration, and how human alterations to wetland geography may affect migratory patterns. The illustrated lecture, the fourth in a series of programs in 2008, is presented through a partnership between the Library’s Science, Technology and Business Division and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). Smith is a senior scientist and Goddard Senior Fellow in the Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at GSFC. Previously, he was associate chief of the Science Information Systems Center and head of the Biospheric Sciences Branch at GSFC. Earlier in his career, he was a professor in the College of Forestry and Natural Resources at Colorado State University, where he developed a research program in remote sensing. Smith also serves as an associate editor for the monthly journal Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, covering the section on Visible and Infrared Remote Sensing. With a strong commitment to improving undergraduate science and engineering education, Smith serves as a commissioner and team chair for the ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) Computing Science Accreditation Board. He also serves on the NATO Science for Peace and Environmental Security Panel. The recipient of the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and other awards and fellowships, Smith earned his academic degrees from the University of Michigan and the Johns Hopkins University. The Library of Congress maintains one of the largest and most diverse collections of scientific and technical information in the world. The Science, Technology and Business Division provides reference and bibliographic services and develops the general collections of the Library in all areas of science, technology, business and economics. For more information, visit


PR 08-146
ISSN 0731-3527