Student Features

An Interview with Marshall Shepherd
Marshall Shepherd
Marshall Shepherd
Marshall Shepherd is not your normal weatherman. Shepherd works at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. He studies weather and climate. But Shepherd is also good at explaining science. That's why NASA asked him to do science communications during the past year. His job was to tell people about NASA's Earth science work. In fact, Shepherd goes on TV to talk about weather, climate and satellites. He also helped write a children's book on weather. Shepherd was the first African American at his high school to finish at the top of his class. And he was the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology from Florida State University.

Earth Explorers: How did you become interested in science?

Shepherd: I was always curious about science. I originally wanted to study insects. But I was stung by a honeybee and found out that I was allergic to insect stings. I moved on to an interest in chemistry. But my science project really started my love of meteorology. It was called, "Can a Sixth Grader Predict the Weather?"

Earth Explorers: What do you like best about your work?

Shepherd: I got into the field by doing a science project. And now I make a living doing "really big" science projects. Hopefully they'll help us understand Earth and its weather and climate. The biggest difference is that I no longer have to make my own instruments. Because I can use NASA's satellites, aircraft and computers.

Earth Explorers: What subjects in school have helped you the most?

Shepherd: Definitely any math, science or computer subjects were helpful. But as I get more into my career, I also see how important English (for writing skills), social studies (for policy and government) and communications (for public speaking) are for my day-to-day activities.

Earth Explorers: Who were your role models growing up?

Shepherd: My role models were my mother, for raising me as a single parent. And George Washington Carver, because he was so creative with limited resources.

Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies