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NEWS | June 26, 2018

NRL Researchers Receive Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Award

By Daniel Parry

WASHINGTON — U.S. Naval Research Laboratory research scientists Dr. Linda Thomas, Dr. Thomas J. Walls and research engineer Joshua Nelson, received the prestigious Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Award during a ceremony held at the Pentagon June 29.

“Congratulations to the 2017 award recipients for their success in this extremely competitive program,” said CAPT Scott Moran, NRL commanding officer. “NRL is proud of their achievements and their recognition as top scientists and engineers in the fields of space systems technology, optical sciences, and electronic warfare.”

Sponsored by the Assistant Secretary of Navy Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN (RD&A)), the award recognizes Department of Navy scientists and engineers who have made significant contributions to their fields and to the fleet. NRL researchers honored in the categories of individual engineer, team, and emergent engineer are as follows:

Individual Engineer

Dr. Linda M. Thomas, chief engineer for Free Space Optical (FSO) technology research and development in the Naval Center for Space Technology, was recognized for her leadership and excellence in the development of Tactical Line-of-sight Optical Network (TALON) terminals.

The TALON system is designed to augment the Marine Corps' current tactical communications systems with free space optical communications capability providing higher throughput, lower probability of detection and interception, and access to unregulated spectrum. Her leadership and engineering skills have advanced innovation in Naval and expeditionary communications performance, flexibility and responsiveness, while at the same time reducing life-cycle costs.


Joshua Nelson, computer engineer, Information Warfare Section in the Tactical Electronic Warfare Division, was recognized for his contributions to the high-performance Office of Naval Research (ONR) Innovative Naval Prototype, Nemesis team. The interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers developed, produced, integrated, and demonstrated superior technical excellence and leadership for the Navy with the remote planning and execution of coordinated and synchronized electromagnetic maneuver warfare (EMW) effects on an at-sea platform.

Demonstrating a game-changing EMW capability for the Navy, the collaborative team was comprised of scientists and engineers from NRL, ONR, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) and SPAWAR Atlantic.

Emergent Engineer

Dr. Thomas J. Walls, head of the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Systems Section in the Optical Sciences Division was recognized for his leadership in the development and first flight demonstrations of a novel multi-intelligence (multi-INT) payload sensor suite for Group III unmanned aerial system deployments.

The Tactical Electro-Optical/Infrared/Signals Intelligence/Synthetic Aperture Radar Integrated for Targeting (TEISIT) program is an ONR funded Future Naval Capability program and has demonstrated several major advances in autonomously coordinated multi-INT sensors.

Under Walls' leadership, the TEISIT program has developed an advanced multi-INT payload and processing suite previously unavailable for tactical platforms and has demonstrated the capabilities of real-time autonomous sensor coordination for warfighter support.

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