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Virginia Norwood: Engineer Extraordinaire

Virginia Norwood: Engineer Extraordinaire

Virginia T. Norwood
Virginia Norwood, 95, holding the USGS John Wesley Powell award on March 14, 2022. Photo credit: Naomi Norwood

When the USGS John Wesley Powell award arrived via mail this month at her Topanga Canyon home in Los Angeles, 95-year-old Virginia Norwood got to first hold the plaque for the lofty award that had been officially bestowed on her November 2, 2021.

The USGS John Wesley Powell Award—named for the one-armed explorer and geographer who served as the second USGS director and greatly advanced the nationwide mapping for which the agency is renowned—is given for significant contributions to USGS by persons outside the Federal government. 

As USGS Director David Applegate wrote to Virginia, in a letter addressed to “Engineer Extraordinaire Norwood,”

“We selected you for this award to honor your lifetime of achievement in the remote sensing field, most notably your work with the long-running Landsat program. Landsat’s nearly 50-year record has transformed our understanding of regional, national and global-scale agriculture, forestry, urbanization, hydrology, disaster mitigation and other changes in land use. The launch of Landsat 9 in September was a key accomplishment for the USGS partnership with NASA, advancing our ability to provided actionable information and data that helps land and resource managers understand what is driving changes to our lands, surface waters, and coasts, and how to effectively sustainably manage them. Your contributions have made this possible, and your efforts in science and mathematics continue to be an inspiration to women across the Nation. Your presence at the Landsat 9 launch was a particular inspiration to the many USGS members of the Ladies of Landsat as well as to our leadership at USGS and the Department of the Interior.” 

We offer our sincere thanks and congratulations to Virginia Norwood.

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