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NEWS | April 20, 2015

Dr. John Sethian Honored with Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award

By Donna McKinney

Dr. John Sethian, a recently retired research physicist and former head of the Electron Beam Science and Applications Section at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), was honored with the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award. This medal is awarded to civilian employees in the Department of the Navy for meritorious service or contributions resulting in high value or benefits for the Navy or the Marine Corps.

Sethian is recognized for seminal contributions to the advancement of transformational pulsed-power and electron-beam technologies, and the development of important applications of these unique technologies for the Navy and the Nation. He led the team at NRL that conducted this work as well as making fundamental individual contributions. Sethian's accomplishments include:
  • Development of the Electra electron beam pumped krypton-fluoride (KrF) laser facility that is the world's only high-energy, high-repetition rate KrF laser.
  • Development of the durable high-energy pulsed power and electron beam diode technologies for the Electra system.
  • Identifying and advancing the application Electra's electron beam technology to repairing sensitization of aluminum structures used in Navy ships.
  • Identifying and advancing the application of the electron beam technology to reduce air pollution from fossil fueled power plants with potential application to Navy ships.
These potentially game-changing advances required Sethian to demonstrate a broad range of outstanding technical, scientific, managerial and leadership skills. He has provided a model for other leaders of such research efforts to follow.

Sethian came to work at NRL in the Plasma Physics Division in 1977. He served in a part-time position with the Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration in 2011 to 2012. He received his bachelor's degree in Physics from Princeton University in 1972 and his doctorate from Cornell University in Applied Physics in 1976.

Sethian has published 85 journal articles; he holds two patents and has two patents pending.

Sethian has received the following awards and recognitions during his career: elected Fellow of American Physical Society in 2002, Fusion Power Associates Leadership Award in 2003, American Nuclear Society Outstanding Achievement Award in 2008, five NRL Technology Transfer Awards, Distinguished Lecturer at the American Physical Society in 2003, and Distinguished Lecturer for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society from 2012 to present.

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