Sciences and Exploration Directorate

John L. Schnase


Org Code: 606.3

Mail Code: 606.3
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Employer: EMERITUS

Brief Bio

Dr. John Schnase is Emeritus Senior Computer Scientist in NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Computational and Information Sciences and Technology Office (CISTO). His work has focused on the development of new information technologies and their transfer into practical use. As an ecologist and computer scientist in a career spanning over forty years, Dr. Schnase brings experience with the social, organizational, and economic factors that influence the acceptance and sustainability of technological innovation within scientific practice. 

Before joining NASA in 1999, Dr. Schnase’s work on the life history of Cassin’s Sparrow (Aimophila cassinii) resulted in an early application of computers in avian energetics modeling. As a co-organizer of the ACM Hypertext ’91 Conference, he assisted Tim Berners-Lee with the first public demonstration in the United States of communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (http) client and server via the Internet. He was Director of the Center for Botanical Informatics at the Missouri Botanical Garden (1995-1999), Director of the Advanced Technology Group at Washington University School of Medicine (1992-1995), Senior Research Associate in the Department of Computer Science at Washington University (1992-1995), Visiting Assistant Professor in the Visualization Laboratory in the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University (1990-1992), and Lecturer in Computer Science at Texas A&M University (1986-1992). Dr. Schnase attended Angelo State University, the University of Texas at Austin, Baylor College of Medicine, and Texas A&M University, where he earned his PhD in Computer Science in 1992. He currently holds adjunct appointments at George Mason University and the University of Maryland - College Park.

His early work at NASA focused on invasive species habitat suitability modeling. He served as Principal Investigator and Program Scientist for the Applied Sciences Program’s Invasive Species National Application. He was founding chair of Goddard’s Information Science and Technology (IS&T) Colloquium, co-lead of NASA’s Earth Science Vision 2010-2025 Biosphere, Ecosystems, and Human/Biosphere Interactions Working Group, and a member of Goddard’s Science Vision 2035 technology team. He has published over 100 scientific articles, has received seven Software Release Awards from the NASA Inventions and Contributions Board, holds numerous patents relating to high-performance computing and data analytics, and is a recipient of the Government Technology Leadership Award. Dr. Schnase and his team were awarded NASA 2019 Invention of the Year honorable mention for their innovations in data analytics and data science. He is the 2021 recipient of the Strategic Partnership Office's James Kerley Award in recognition of his efforts to find commercial applications for NASA technologies.

Dr. Schnase is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Past Chair of the Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) of ABET, and a member of the External Advisory Board of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Cyberinfrastructure Program’s DataNet Federation Consortium. He is a former member of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystems and a former member of the OSTP National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability (CENRS) Subcommittee on Ecosystem Services (SES). He served as Co-Chair of the Ecosystems Societal Benefit Area of OSTP's National Observation Assessment in 2017.

Dr. Schnase is the former climate informatics focus area lead in CISTO. As emeritus, he contributes to the development of scientific data services in the NASA Center for Climate Simulation (NCCS) and CISTO's Code 606.3 Data Science Group's Innovation Lab. He also serves as a science advisor to various NASA programs and continues ecological research on the climate change influences on avian distribution and abundance. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, helps teach scuba classes when possible, and occasionally can be found working as a safety diver at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.