Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Kenneth Jon Ranson


Kenneth Jon Ranson's Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.614.6650
Org Code: 618
Mail Code 618
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Brief Bio

Jon Ranson is a Senior Scientist with the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He received the B.S. degree in Watershed Sciences and M.S. degree in Earth Resources from Colorado State University where his graduate research involved geologic and forest cover mapping. He later joined the Laboratory for Applications of Remote Sensing (LARS) at Purdue University where he earned the Ph. D. degree. His Doctoral research quantified bidirectional reflectance characteristics of agricultural crops. In 1986, Dr. Ranson joined the Biospheric Sciences Branch where he has developed remote sensing linkages to forest ecosystem models and conducted optical and radar research while leading several domestic and international NASA projects. He also served as the Deputy Project scientist and Project Scientist of the EOS Terra Mission, was the science lead on the DESDynI lidar concept. His current research is focused on active and passive remote sensing of ecosystem dynamics of the boreal forest, especially in Siberia. He served as Chief of the Biospheric Science Laboratory from 2003-2014 and twice served as an acting NASA HQ Program Manager. He has authored and co-authored over 100 peer reviewed journal articles and was awarded a NASA Leadership Medal, Goddard Exceptional Supervisor Award and numerous Goddard performance awards. He is a member of IEEE GRSS AGU, AAAS and is an adjunct faculty for Johns Hopkins University.

Research Interests

Forest dynamics monitoring

Earth Science: Vegetation & Soil

Active and passive optical and microwave research for ecosystem analysis

Earth Science: Carbon Cycle

Three dimensional ecosystem structure measurements and modeling

Earth Science: Carbon Cycle

Current Projects

Structure and Function of Ecosystems

Carbon Cycle

Linkages between vegetation functional parameters and 3-D structure.


Research Physical Scientist

Biospheric Sciences Lab. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD

October 2014 - Present

 Conduct basic research on optical and microwave remote sensing and modeling for study of global forested ecosystems.

Branch Head/Laboratory Chief

Biospheric Sciences Lab. GSFC, NASA GSFC - Greenbelt, MD

August 2003 - September 2014

Research Physical Scientist

GSFC - Greenbelt, MD

October 1986 - July 2003

Conduct basic research on optical and microwave remote sensing and modeling for study of global forested ecosystems.

Research Agronomist,

Laboratory for Applications of Remote Sensing (LARS), Purdue University. - W. Lafayette, IN

May 1980 - September 1986

Conduct basic and applied agricultural and forest research utilizing bidirectional reflectance and microwave scattering measurements and models.

Professional Societies

American Geophysical Union


2000 - Present

Professional Service

Journals : Agronomy Journal, Canadian Journal of Forestry, IEEE Transactions on Geosciences and Remote Sensing, International Journal of Remote Sensing, Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, Remote Sensing of Environment, Remote Sensing Reviews, Remote Sensing Letters, Remote Sensing, Global Change Biology

Proposals : NASA Terrestrial Ecosystems Program, NASA Hydrology and Remote Sensing Science Programs, NASA EOS Interdisciplinary Science, NASA New Investigator Program. USDA-ARS, National Environment Research Council (UK), NSERC (Canada), Israeli Science Foundation, USAID, NASA Graduate Student Research Program

Selected Public Outreach

Siberian expedition blogs

August 2007 - September 2016

Published in NASA Earthobservatory in




Northwoods, Maine

June 1989 - September 2019

Conducted field and remote sensing measurements in the Howland and Penobscot Forests in Central Maine. Purpose was 1) test RS algorithms for Radar, Lidar, bi-directional reflectance and several optical imaging sensors, 2) develop and validate forest succession models and 3) develop fusion techniques to improve accuracy of RS methods..