Sunday, September 29, 2013

Two friends passed away

I recently lost two friends of my age to cancer.  They were both lively and wonderful individuals.  Christina who lived in California was a high schoolmate of mine.  I remember her smiles vividly when our class celebrated our 50th birthday on a cruise.  I regret that I did not get to know her better.

Sylvia was introduced to me by other friends after she had gone through three separate chemo treatments two and half years ago.   She was a  strong character, and had bravely fought against cancer for more than 3 years when I first knew her.  Her last trip away from home was taken with Haepyng and me earlier this year.  We drove to Lewis, took the ferry to Cape May, then drove to Atlantic City for a few days.  We walked on the boardwalk (before it was later destroyed by hurricane Sandy) , explored the seaside towns, looked for light houses, and leisurely toured Cape May.  On the way over, we ate at the Marriott restaurant in Annapolis, stopped by to see T&J, and when we drove back from Atlantic City, we ate by the water at Harve de Grace.  While Sylvia was under some pain, I think she did enjoy the time she spent with Haepyng and me.  May her rest in peace.

Sylvia's friend Paul wrote the following announcement about her passing:

On Friday, September 13, 2013 at 11:40 a.m., my best friend and most esteemed colleague passed away. On this day, Sylvia was triumphant in her six year battle with cancer.  I, my wife Claudia, and Sylvia’s closest friends surrounded her with love round the clock as she became unable to care for herself at home and was subsequently admitted to the hospital and finally to hospice.  Dr. Sylvia S. Shen was one of the smartest and most capable people I have ever known.  Within her petite body, dwelled a kind, determined, and noble spirit.  Her friendship, courage of conviction, fortitude, and intellect have enriched my life, as well as the lives of her friends and colleagues.

It was Sylvia’s wish not to have a funeral or a memorial service.  As per her wishes, her body will be cremated on Saturday, September 21, 2013.  Her ashes will remain with me, forever enshrined at our home.  In memory of Sylvia, and in honor of her life and achievements, please consider making a donation to either Hospice, or to uterine cancer research.

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I and the United States Government have had the good fortune and privilege to have had Aerospace support from Dr. Shen in the evolution of spectral remote sensing for eighteen years.  Sylvia’s work was perhaps the single most important aspect of her life and she dedicated herself to it.  Her pioneering efforts in the application of mathematics to the field of spectral remote sensing have played a key role in its evolution and application in answering many difficult questions. 

Dr. Shen is a Fellow of the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE).  Her analytical methods, algorithms, publications, and contributions to the unclassified remote sensing community are many and include: Two decades of organizing and chairing two key SPIE conferences, “Algorithms and Technologies for Multispectral, Hyperspectral, and Ultraspectral Imagery” and “Imaging Spectrometry,” which have served as important focal points for the exchange and evolution of ideas by researchers in the field of spectral remote sensing; Committee service and study contributions to the NASA Landsat Program; Journal reviewer for the Professional Societies of SPIE and IEEE. 

The Airborne Spectral Photometric Environmental Collection Technology (ASPECT) Program is our nation’s only 24/7 civilian airborne emergency response chemical, radiological, and imagery mapping capability.  Dr. Shen’s contributions to the collaborative efforts of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evolve the ASPECT Program have been essential to its decade of successes.  As a member of the ASPECT Team, Dr. Shen has deployed, analyzed, and developed state of the art spectral infrared analytical and imagery situational awareness products.  These products were deemed essential by first responders and Joint Operation Center personnel since 2003 for mitigation of disasters ranging from Hurricane Katrina to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. 

Dr. Shen has also been a key technical contributor to the NGA Collaborative Atmospheric Measurement Program (CAMP).  The goal of CAMP is to determine the quantitative accuracy of passive infrared ground, aircraft, and space based measurements of green house gases, and to recommend best practice measurement techniques for future implementation.  Her efforts have resulted in the development of a forward radiative transfer model that will be implemented by the ASPECT program for future quantitative gas measurement missions. 

The NGA, the EPA, the Aerospace Corporation, the ASPECT Team, and the remote sensing community have lost a pioneer in the field of spectral remote sensing.

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