Dr. Elaine Oran Receives Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award

12/22/2006 - 57-06r
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Dr. Elaine S. Oran, Senior Scientist for Reactive Flow Physics at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), is the recipient of the 2006 Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award. Dr. Oran is recognized for pioneering a computational technology that unifies engineering, scientific, and mathematical disciplines into a methodology for solving reactive flow problems. SWE's Achievement Award is the Society's highest honor bestowed to an individual.

As Senior Scientist at NRL, Dr. Oran's current research includes development of numerical algorithms and the use of these algorithms in computerized models that describe a wide variety of complex fluid systems. These systems are used in research and applications ranging from microfluidics to astrophysics and cosmology. Her current work applies these simulation methods to design micron-sized devices for use in biosensors; design of micro-propulsion systems for use in air vehicles, space and planetary exploration; hazard reduction for the storage and handling of energetic materials including hydrogen fuels; basic physics of combustion processes involving flames; detonations and the transition to denotations; and explosions of supernovae.

Dr. Oran is responsible for programs sponsored by NRL, the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Japanese research agency, NEDO. A substantial part of her work is involved with facilitating collaborations among government, academia, and industry. In addition to her work with ONR, Dr. Oran is a consultant to corporations and governmental agencies. Currently, she is at the center of a new collaboration among the U.S. government and a number of universities and private industries to design safe storage for hydrogen fuels.

In addition to her professional responsibilities, Dr. Oran has extensively supported the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) group within NRL. The WISE group, which is designed to create opportunities and encourage the participation of women in the science and engineering fields, has helped to implement a successful mentoring program at NRL.

Dr. Oran has authored and co-authored hundreds of technical papers and articles, as well as the highly regarded textbook, Numerical Simulation of Reactive Flow, which is considered to be the most widely used text on the subject.

Dr. Oran has also served as visiting faculty member at several academic institutions, including Leeds University, England, and the University of Michigan, where she is adjunct professor of Aerospace Engineering, and the University of Wales at Aberystwyth, where she was Honorary Professor of Physics. As a result of her mentorship, Dr. Oran has supervised the research of many Ph.D. students as well as hosted and directed the research of many national and international postdoctoral scholars at NRL.

"Dr. Oran is a research scholar and team leader," says Dr. Bhakta Rath, head of the Materials Science and Component Technology Directorate at NRL. "She is one of the world's leading authorities on advanced methods for large-scale numerical simulation of physical systems. Her work has advanced both the methodology for solving problems on the world's most advanced computers and the application of these methods to a very broad range of problems."

In 1979, Dr. Oran received the Arthur S. Fleming Award and in 1988 the WISE Award in Science, given for achievement in science by Women in Science and Engineering. In 1999, she received the Oppenheim Prize for "outstanding contributions to the theory of the dynamics of explosions and reactive systems." In 2000, she received the Ya. B. Zeldovich Gold Medal, presented by the Russian Academy of Sciences for the Combustion Institute, and given for "outstanding contributions to the theory of combustion and detonations." In 2001 she became an honorary professor of the University of Wales. She was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2003 and is a Fellow of both the AIAA and the American Physical Society.

She is presently editor-in-chief of the AIAA Journal. She is president of the Institute for the Dynamics of Energetic and Reactive Systems, and has served on both the boards of directors of both the AIAA and the Combustion Institute. Additionally, she is past chair and a founding member of the American Physical Society Division of Computational Physics and has been active in the Division of Fluid Dynamics.

Dr. Oran received her A.B. degree in physics and chemistry from Bryn Mawr College; her M.Ph. degree in physics; and her Ph.D. degree in solid state physics and statistical mechanics.

The Achievement Award is the highest award given by the Society of Women Engineers. It is presented annually to a woman who has made an outstanding contribution over a significant period of time in a field of engineering. The main criteria for selection are based on the significance of the lifetime achievements cited on behalf of the nominee and on the sustained contributions of the nominee to the field of engineering. The Achievement Award was formally presented on October 13, 2006, at SWE's National Conference Awards Banquet in Kansas City, Mo.

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