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Dr. Jean-Francois Pitot De La Beaujardiere

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Published in The Washington Post on May 11, 2024

August 30, 1963 – November 16, 2023

Jeff de La Beaujardière passed away peacefully at home in Boulder, Colorado on Thursday, November 16, 2023, after a two and a half year decline from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Although Jeff’s body was defeated by ALS, his intellect and humor continued to shine until the end of his life.

Jeff was born in Paris, France to Jean-Marie and Odile Pitot de La Beaujardière.

In 1967, Jeff moved with his parents and younger brother Larry to the United States.

After a few years on the east coast, Jeff and his family moved to Palo Alto, California where he spent his remaining childhood years. Although he lived in the United States for most of his years, he visited his beloved extended family in France many times throughout his life.

Jeff received his B.A. in physics in 1985 from the University of California, Berkeley, and his Ph.D. in astrophysics in 1990 from the University of Colorado, Boulder. For his postdoc, Jeff went to Hawaii to study the Sun, and later moved to Paris where he had accepted a position at Meudon and lived in the Paris apartment where he’d lived as a baby. After a few years in Paris, he then shifted the focus of his career at NASA, NOAA and NCAR supporting open standards of Earth science data making it more discoverable, accessible, documented, interoperable, citable, curated for long-term preservation and reusable by the broader scientific community, external users and decision makers.

In 1994 he joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center. From 1994 to 1998, Jeff was Webmaster of NASA’s Public Use of Remote Sensing Data Program. The Web site was a showcase for satellite images of hurricanes and other natural phenomena. He was also lead Web developer for the GLOBE Visualization project, which displays environmental data gathered and used by a worldwide network of students, teachers, and scientists. He was Editor of the Web Map Standards which are foundational to the ability we now take for granted, to access maps online and through our phones.

After NASA Jeff worked at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) for a decade first as a Senior Systems Architect, then as a Data Management Architect. He developed policies and technical recommendations so that NOAA data about the environment will be easily discoverable by potential users, readily accessible and standardized, well documented with good metadata, and archived for future generations.

In 2018, Jeff moved to Boulder and became Director of the Information Systems Division at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Computational and Information Systems Lab where he managed an organization that develops and operates several data repositories containing petabytes of climate model outputs and Earth observations, accessible by on-premise HPC to enable data analysis and visualization.
Jeff received several awards for his contributions and leadership for the advancement and uptake of standards used for the dissemination of Earth Science information including the 2003 Falkenberg Award at AGU, 2013 OGC Kenneth D. Gardels Award, the 2023 ESIP President’s Award, and the 2023 Open Geospatial Consortium Lifetime Achievement Award.

In addition to his distinguished career, Jeff always made time to be with his family and friends. He played the keyboard for several Grateful Dead cover bands, and after working and raising his family in the DC area for 20 years, he moved back to Boulder where he loved hiking, skiing, music, and photography.

Jeff is survived by his father Jean-Marie (Jim) in Golden, Colorado, his sons Jean-Jacques (Jack) in Denver, Colorado, Tristan and Patrick in Boulder, Colorado, his brothers Laurent (Larry) and his fiancée Joanne in Paris, France, and Cedric and his spouse Susan in Palo Alto, California; many aunts, an uncle and cousins in France; and Adriana Sánchez his beloved partner in Bethesda, Maryland.

We ask that you support Compassionate Care ALS if you would like to make a donation in Jeff’s memory.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, June 8 at 10 a.m. at Residence Inn Bethesda Downtown, 7335 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814. To RSVP or to contact the family, please email

The inurnment will be at the Saint-Jean Chapel in Antibes, France in a family-only ceremony on June 16, 2024.