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Joan Lurie

Joan Lurie

Dr. Joan Lurie
Remote Sensing Consultant and
VP Business Development, GCC, Inc.
SPIE Fellow

Who or what inspired your career choice? My original career choice was physics -- and, indeed, my PhD research was in theoretical solid-state physics. I was always very good at math and related science and was influenced, while in college, by the post-Sputnik excitement and several professors who assured me that the country's need for scientists to "beat" the Russians would ease the way for women. This may be true but.. suffice it to say that when Rutgers University granted me my PhD in 1967 the university was 201 years old and I was the first woman to receive a PhD in physics. In later years, I decided to leave physics in favor of a career in image processing and remote sensing.

What is exciting about your work? My current consulting work covers many aspects of remote sensing and earth imaging. The chance to be part of this rapidly growing field with new satellites and new imagery technology coming on line very rapidly ensures that there is "never a dull moment." In addition to consulting, I am on the adjunct faculty at City College (part of the City University of New York) and teach an advanced undergraduate course in Remote Sensing. I have always enjoyed teaching and interacting with students and faculty. This is a new course at CCNY and the students have been very enthusiastic. They told me they enrolled for a variety of reasons ranging from career opportunities in many fields to wanting to know if all the "Hollywood stuff" about spy satellites was true.

Knowing what you know now, what educational route would you recommend for aspiring optical scientists? I think that the educational route chosen depends very strongly on the interests of the individual. In my case, knowing that a life of lab research was not what I wanted, I should have augmented my physics education with a degree in business or law in order to better address some of the things that interest me -- public policy, business and market aspects of remote sensing and intellectual property issues.