Riley Duren

Riley Duren is a Research Scientist at the University of Arizona and an Engineering Fellow at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  Previously, he served as Chief Systems Engineer for the Earth Science & Technology Directorate. He continues to support JPL’s earth science enterprise – including spaceborne instruments and missions, airborne studies, research and analysis, and applied science.  For nearly three decades he has worked at the intersection of science and engineering to deliver observational systems including seven successful satellite missions ranging from earth-mapping radars to telescopes in deep space. He was previously the Chief Engineer for the Kepler mission that conducted a major survey of earth-size planets around other stars. In addition to his earth science program work he is currently involved in strategic efforts at JPL seeking to advance the broader state of the art in program architecting, science traceability, verification, validation and uncertainty quantification for complex systems. 

Additionally, in 2008 he began to extend the discipline of systems engineering to the challenge of societal decision-making for climate change mitigation, adaptation and direct intervention.  He is Principal Investigator for six research projects to develop and test carbon monitoring systems and strategies that combine measurements from satellites, aircraft and surface-based systems, tracer transport modeling, machine learning, and big data methods to detect, quantify and attribute emission sources. These efforts support programs at NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the California Air Resources Board, the California Energy Commission and a number of local agencies and other stakeholders in California. He is also a Visiting Researcher at UCLA’s Joint Institute For Regional Earth System Science and Engineering.


B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Auburn University, 1991

Research Interests: 
  • Science Systems Engineering for space missions
  • Earth’s carbon cycle and ecosystems
  • Decision support for climate mitigation and interventions

Professional Experience: 


  • 2019-present, Research Scientist



  • 2017 – present, Engineering Fellow
  • 2008 – 2019, Chief Systems Engineer, Earth Science & Technology Directorate
  • 2002 – 2009, Chief Engineer & Project System Engineer, Kepler mission
  • 2000 – 2002, Instrument System Engineer, Starlight mission
  • 1996 – 2000, Metrology System Engineer, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM)



  • 1988 – 1995, Payload Integration, Test and Operations Engineer (five space shuttle missions)



Selected Awards: 
  • National Academy of Engineering Gilbreth Lecture (2013)
  • Engineer’s Council Distinguished Engineering Achievement Award (2012)
  • NASA Exceptional Achievement Medals (2001 & 2010)
  • NASA Systems Engineering Excellence Award (2010)
  • Charles Witham Environmental Stewardship Award (2008)
  • NASA Group Achievement Awards (6 total, 1991-2010)

Selected Publications: 
  1. Cusworth, D. H., Duren, R. M., Yadav, V., Thorpe, A. K., Verhulst, K., Sander, S., et al. (2020). Synthesis of methane observations across scales: Strategies for deploying a multitiered observing network. Geophys. Res. Let, 47, e2020GL087869.
  2. Duren, R., A. Thorpe, K.T. Foster, T. Rafiq, F. M. Hopkins, V. Yadav, B.Bue, D.R. Thompson, S. Conley, N. Colombi, C. Frankenberg, I.McCubbin, M.Eastwood, M.Falk, J. Herner, B. E. Croes, R. Green, C. Miller (2019). California’s Methane Super-emitters, Nature, doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1720-3.
  3. Yadav, V., Duren, R., Mueller, K., Verhulst, K.R., Nehrkorn, T., Kim, J., Weiss, R.F., Keeling,R., Sander, S., Fischer, M.L., Newman,S.,. Falk, M., Kuwayama, T., Hopkins, F., Rafiq, T., Whetstone,  J., Miller, C., Spatio-temporally resolved methane fluxes from the Los Angeles Megacity, JGR-Atmospheres, doi: 10.1029/2018JD030062, 2019.
  4. Cusworth, D., Jacob, D.,  Varon, D., Miller, C.C., Lu, X., Chance, K., Thorpe, A. , Duren, R., Miller, C., Thompson, D., Frankenberg, C., Guanter, L.,  Randles, C.,  Potential of next-generation imaging spectrometers to detect and quantify methane point sources from space, Atmos. Meas. Tech. (2019).
  5. Cui., Y.Y, A. Vijayan, M. Falk, Y. Hsu, D. Yin, Z. Zhao, J. Avise, K. Verhulst, L. T. Iraci, M.S. Johnson, Y. Chen, K. Stroud, J.Herner, B. Croes, R.Duren, A multi-platform inversion estimation of statewide and regional methane emissions in California during 2014-2016, Env. Sci. Tech (2019).
  6. He, L., Zhao-Cheng Zeng, T. Pongetti, C. Wong, J.Liang, K. Gurney, S Newman, V.Yadav, K. Verhulst, C.Miller, R. Duren, C. Frankenberg, P. Wennberg, R. Shia, Y. Yung and S. Sander, Leakage from natural gas usage correlates with seasonal methane emissions in Los Angeles, Geophys. Res. Let. (2019).
  7. Ware J, Kort EA, Duren R., Verhulst K, Yadav V, Detecting Urban Emissions Changes and Events with a Near-Real-Time-Capable Inversion System, JGR-Atmospheres, doi:10.1029/2018JD029224, 2019.
  8. Thorpe, A.K., Frankenberg, C., Thompson, D.R., Duren, R.M., Aubrey, A.D., Bue, B.B., Green, R.O., Gerilowski, K., Krings, T., Borchard, J., Kort, E.A., Sweeney, C., Conley, S., Roberts, D.A., Dennison, P.E. (2017). Airborne DOAS retrievals of methane, carbon dioxide, and water vapor concentrations at high spatial resolution: application to AVIRIS-NG. Atmos. Meas. Tech. (2017), doi: 10.5194/amt-2017-51.
  9. Verhulst, K.R., J. Kim, P.K. Salameh, C. Sloop, A.Karion, T. Pongetti, F.M. Hopkins, C. Wong, P. Rao, J. Miller, R. F. Keeling, R. F. Weiss, C. Miller, and R. Duren, In Situ Carbon Dioxide and Methane Measurements from a Tower Network in the Los Angeles Megacity , Atmos. Chem. Phys., (2016), doi: 10.5194/acp-2016-850.
  10. Thompson, D.R., A. K. Thorpe, C. Frankenberg, R. O. Green, R. Duren, L. Guanter, A. Hollstein, E. Middleton, L. Ong, S. Ungar, Space-based Remote Imaging Spectroscopy of the Aliso Canyon CH4 Super-emitter, Geophys. Res. Let. (2016), doi: 10.1002/2016GL069079.
  11. Hulley,G.C., R.  Duren, S.J. Hook, F. Hopkins, N. Vance, et al., High spatial resolution imaging of methane and other trace gas sources with the airborne Hyperspectral Thermal Emission Spectrometer,Atmos. Meas. Tech.(2016), doi:10.5194/amt-2016-8.
  12. Bloom, A. A., Lauvaux, T., Yadav, V., Duren, R., Sander, S., Worden, J., and Schimel, D.: What are the greenhouse gas observing system requirements for reducing fundamental biogeochemical process uncertainty? Amazon wetland CH4 emissions as a case study, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., doi:10.5194/acp-2016-325, 2016.
  13. K.R. Gurney, Paty Romero-Lankao, Karen C. Seto, Lucy R. Hutyra, Riley Duren, Christopher Kennedy, Nancy B. Grimm, Jim R. Ehleringer, Peter Marcotullio, Sara Hughes, Stephanie Pincetl, Mikhail V. Chester, Daniel M. Runfola, Johannes J. Feddema, Joshua Sperling, “Track Urban Emissions on a Human Scale”, Nature  (2015).
  14. Keith, David W., Riley Duren, and Douglas G. MacMartin (2014), “Field experiments on Solar Geoengineering: An exploration of a representative research portfolio”, Phil Trans Royal Soc A, DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2014.0175.
  15. Hutyra, Lucy R., Riley Duren, Kevin R. Gurney, Nancy Grimm, Eric Kort, Elisabeth Larson, Gyami Shrestha, “Urbanization and the carbon cycle: Current capabilities and research outlook from the natural sciences perspective”, Earth’s Future (2014), doi:10.1002/2014EF000255.
  16. Robock, A., D.G.MacMartin, R. Duren, M.W. Christensen, Studying geoengineering with natural and anthropogenic analogs, J. Clim. Change (2013), doi: 10.1007/s10584-013-0777-5
  17. P. Ciais, A.J. Dolman, A. Bombelli, R. Duren, A. Peregon, P.J. Rayner et al., Current systematic carbon cycle observations and needs for implementing a policy-relevant carbon observing system, Biogeosci (2013), 10, 11447–11581, doi:10.5194/bgd-10-11447-2013
  18. R. Duren and C. Miller, “Measuring the Carbon Emissions of Megacities”, Nature Climate Change 2, 560–562 (2012). doi:10.1038/nclimate1629.
  19. Farr, T.G., E. Caro, R. Crippen, R. Duren, S. Hensley, M. Kobrick, M. Paller, E. Rodriguez, P. Rosen, L. Roth, D. Seal, S. Shaffer, J. Shimada, J. Umland, M. Werner, “The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission”, AGU Reviews of Geophysics (2006).
  20. Duren, R. “Verification and Validation of Deep-Space Missions”, AIAA J. Spacecraft and Rockets,  Vol. 41, No. 4 (2004).



Riley Duren
4800 Oak Grove Dr.
Pasadena, CA 91109