Bachelor, University of California at Los Angeles, 1949. Master of Science, University Southern California, 1956. Doctor of Philosophy, University Southern California, 1960.
United States Public Health Service fellow, Princeton University, 1960. United States Public Health Service fellow, New York University, 1961.
He pursued his postdoctoral work at New York University. Working from National Aeronautics and Space Administration"s Langley Research Center in the midto late-1970s, Doctor Soffen was Project Scientist for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration"s Viking program of Mars landers, the first successful missions to perform unmanned experiments on the surface of the planet. In that role, he oversaw all scientific investigations conducted by the landers, coordinating the work of more than seventy scientists around the nation.
Later, he would become National Aeronautics and Space Administration Langley"s Chief Environmental Scientist, leading work on remote sensing by satellite as well as laboratory experiments, ground-based measurements, and theoretical models.
After concluding his work with Viking, Soffen became the Director of Life Sciences at National Aeronautics and Space Administration Headquarters in 1978. In this position, Doctor Soffen was responsible for the agency-wide program to monitor and maintain the physical well being of National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronauts in space, as well as the Biomedical Program, the Space Biology Program, and the Exobiology (also sometimes called the Astrobiology) program
In 1983, Soffen transferred from National Aeronautics and Space Administration Headquarters to National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Maryland. Initially, his role at GSFC focused on establishing the "Mission to Planet Earth" program
Soffen also served as the project scientist for National Aeronautics and Space Administration"s Earth Observing System as that program was starting.
In the 1990s, though, Soffen"s focus would shift to education. In 1990, Soffen lead the formation of the University Programs office at GSFC, an office he would manage for several years. Three years into that role, Soffen created National Aeronautics and Space Administration Academy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration"s premiere leadership training internship.
Doctor Soffen has been memorialized in several ways by his peers and former students.
The "Doctor Soffen Memorial Fund for the Advancement of Space Science Education" was established by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Academy Alumni Association "to continue Jerry"s commitment to the future of space by supporting motivated students in the fields of space science and engineering". The "Gerald Soffen Memorial Panel/Lecture" is also a feature of the annual Space Studies program conducted by International Space University.
Additionally, a crater on Mars was recently named "Soffen". The crater is centered at 23.5 degrees South, 140.8 degrees East on Mars.
The Viking 2 lander was also posthumously named after Doctor Soffen.
Served with Army of the United States, 1944-1946. Member American Association for the Advancement of Science.