Dr. Spencer received his B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Michigan in 1978 and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Meteorology from the University of Wisconsin in 1980 and 1982. He then continued at the University of Wisconsin through 1984 in the Space Science and Engineering Center as a research scientist. He joined NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in 1984, where he later became Senior Scientist for Climate Studies. He resigned from NASA in 2001 and joined the Univeristy of Alabama in Huntsville as a Principal Research Scientist. Dr. Spencer has served as Pricipal Investigator on the Global Precipitation Studies with Nimbus-7 and DMSP SSM/I, and the Advanced Microwave Precipitation Radiometer High Altitude Studies of Precipitation Systems. He has been a member of several science teams: the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Space Station Accommodations Analysis Study Team, Science Steering Group for TRMM, TOVS Pathfinder Working Group, NASA Headquarters Earth Science and Applications Advisory Subcommittee, and two National Research Council study panels.
Since 1992 Dr. Spencer has been the U.S. Team Leader for the Multichannel Imaging Microwave Radiometer (MIMR) team and the follow-on AMSR-E team. In 1994 he became the AMSR-E Science Team leader.
He received the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal in 1991, the MSFC Center Director’s Commendation in 1989, and the American Meteorological Society’s Special Award in 1996.