Patricia Doherty

In Memoriam: Patricia Doherty

Patricia Helen Doherty, Boston College, passed away Thursday, July 14, at age 72. Patricia was employed by Boston College for many years, serving as the Director of the Institute for Scientific Research at the time of her passing. Her research included studies of space physics, space weather, ionospheric and atmospheric effects on space-based systems with an emphasis on GNSS, ionospheric measurement techniques, chemical reactions in space, and magnetospheric physics. Pat Doherty has made pioneering and sustainable contributions to advance our understanding of ionospheric effects on satellite navigation. She was involved in the early assessment of ionospheric delay impact on GPS measurement errors. She played an important role in evaluating ionospheric limitation of FAA’s Wide Area Differential GPS (WADGPS) and performances of algorithms to correct ionospheric errors for WAAS. During the past two decades, she and her collaborators have studied the ionospheric impact on GNSS at every continent and every region of the world.  In recent years, she has focused her attention on the broader field of space weather phenomena and its impact on technology and society.     

Patricia’s personal passion project encompassed promoting research and education in the science of navigation in developing countries. For over ten years, she started and led an initiative to help developing countries derive social and economic benefits from the satellite-based technology of positioning, navigation, and timing, by organizing and chairing prominent ION members to teach and interact with teams of professors and scientists from African universities and other developing countries. Due to these outreach efforts, sustainable developments have been made in Africa and other developing nations. Numerous academic programs are operational or in the process of development, and societal benefits in developing nations have been achieved because of Pat’s leadership and efforts.

Patricia was an ION member active in leadership for the past twenty years, serving as ION president (2013 and 2014) and the current chair of the Satellite Division at the time of her passing. She was an ION Fellow (2012) and recipient of the Burka Award (1995), Weems Award (2014), and Distinguished Service Award (2014). She is also the recipient of the 2017 GPS World Leadership Award and 2018 American Geophysical Union (AGU)’s Space Physics & Aeronomy Richard Carrington (SPARC) Award.

Her involvement in several international scientific organizations and her numerous outreach efforts allowed her to fulfill her passion for traveling the world. She will be missed by her husband of 49 years (Charles), as well as by her children, family, friends, and colleagues the world over. She is known throughout the PNT and space sciences community as an exemplary and generous leader, role model, and mentor. The absence of her elegant grace will be sorely missed.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations in Patricia's name may be made to The May Institute, 41 Pacella Park Dr, Randolph, MA 02368.