Remembering John Dwyer, a Longtime Landsat Stalwart

John Dwyer
John Dwyer, former Chief of the Science and Applications Branch at USGS EROS. Photo credit: USGS

July 16, 2021 • On Sunday, July 4, 2021, the Landsat community lost John Dwyer, the former Science and Applications Branch Chief at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center.

Dwyer was an explorer of new technologies and of data. Well-versed on both the science and system development sides of remote sensing, he was a natural fit at EROS.

He helped Landsat become a truly operational program, making recommendations on how NASA and USGS could implement the Landsat 9 mission—a satellite mission that will launch this September.

Passionate about bridging science and system engineering in service of deriving essential information from Landsat data, Dwyer took on details at USGS Headquarters in Reston, Virginia and interfaced with the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, helping to convey the importance of decision-making information derived from a well-calibrated global monitoring tool like Landsat.

Dwyer was closely involved with the Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection (LCMAP) project and he helped build the Landsat Satellites Data System Science R&D team. As a branch chief, and in all his positions, his integrity was irrefutable.

He received a Distinguished Service Award from the Department of the Interior—the highest recognition given by the Interior—in 2019. He retired that same year, after being at EROS for 39 years.

Dwyer greatly enjoyed working with what he described as the “very smart, talented, energetic folks” at EROS.

He was 65 when he passed away from complications of ALS this month.

Dwyer’s goodwill, collaboration, and comradery impacted colleagues across agencies and will long be remembered.

“John was a friend and a colleague who I admired both for his considerable contributions to the Landsat program and for the grace and courage with which he faced ALS,” Jim Irons, the Director of the Earth Sciences Division at NASA and Landsat 8 Project Scientist, shared.

“I will miss him and think of him every time I work with USGS and the Landsat program.”


Further Information:
+ Obituary for John L. Dwyer
+ Eyes on Earth Episode 2 – Chernobyl; interview with John Dwyer; USGS EROS
+ Science Branch Chief Retires as a Man of Many Hats, Many Accomplishments at EROS; USGS EROS


News brief by Laura E.P. Rocchio