NEWS | July 8, 2014

Dr. Robert Morris Honored with Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award

By Donna McKinney

Dr. Robert E. Morris, a research chemist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, has been honored with the Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award. Dr. Morris is recognized for his superlative scientific achievements in fuel analytics that have been the singular driving factor in the Navy's development of advanced diagnostics and prognostics for Navy mobility fuels.

Dr. Morris has revolutionized fuel analytics with his work in compositional mapping of Navy mobility fuels and through the development of tools for fuel diagnostics using sensing technologies and chemometric modeling capabilities to perform aviation and ship propulsion fuel quality surveillance. He has consistently provided the Navy with leadership and guidance for finding solutions to the many complex problems associated with Navy mobility fuels that power the Navy's ships and aircraft.

As head of NRL's Chemical Sensing and Fuel Technology Section, Dr. Morris leads a multidisciplinary research effort focused on fuel chemistry and analytics, development of chemical sensors and sensing methods, data fusion and multivariate data analysis, trace analysis and submarine atmospheric quality assessment. In addition, Dr. Morris conducts basic and applied research and provides technical support in a wide range of Navy fuel issues to the fleet.

Dr. Morris has over 38 years of experience in Navy fuels and is recognized as the foremost authority in fuel analytics, quality surveillance, characterization, and fundamental fuel chemistry, both in the Navy and internationally. He serves as science and technology (S&T) lead and senior fuels chemist on the Navy Fuels & Lubes Cross Functional Team. He is a Chairman Emeritus of the International Association for Stability and Handling of Liquid Fuels (IASH), the world's foremost international organization devoted to all technical aspects related to the stability, handling, and use of liquid fuels. IASH recently recognized Dr. Morris' impact on fuel science with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 and his continued strong leadership and service with the Nahum Por Memorial Award in 2013. He was presented with the Sigma Xi NRL Edison Chapter Applied Science Award in 2012. In addition, he serves on the Aviation Technical Steering Committee and chairs the Advanced Research and Test Methods Group of the Coordinating Research Council.

Dr. Morris has spent his career advancing the state-of-the-art of fuel science and introducing new technologies by studying the fundamental chemical processes that define the characteristics and performance of Navy mobility fuels. He is recognized as an expert in the area of copper-mediated jet fuel thermal autoxidation, and his work provides design guidelines for jet fuel thermal management on the Joint Strike Fighter. This tenacious scientific endeavor has enlightened researchers' understanding of Navy fuel system interactions and refuted many of the ideas that have long been held as truths in a field where many of the legacy concepts were adapted from chemical systems or materials that were not valid for Navy fuels. His studies of interactions of the organic fuel constituents with heated metal surfaces redefined the role of the metal surface in the thermal oxidation mechanism of jet fuels. The current Navy stance on the use of metal deactivating additives is based on the outcome of this work.

With a strong background in mathematics and statistics, Dr. Morris's landmark recognition in the 1990's of the potential of chemometric statistical methods to clarify the chemically important information from complex compositional data of petroleum-derived fuels formed the genesis for a totally new approach to fuel analytics. By coupling innovative chemometric research to state-of-the-art analytical techniques, Dr. Morris spearheaded the NRL initiative to develop new chemometric analysis methodologies, which also helped establish NRL as the premier center-of-excellence for the development of advanced fuel diagnostics and prognostics.

As senior S&T research chemist and member of the technical committee for the Navy Fuels & Lubricants Cross Functional Team (CFT), Dr. Morris and his research group provides basic S&T support for all Navy fuel activities within the CFT. He holds three patents and has authored more than 90 papers and journal articles in the field of fuel chemistry.

Dr. Morris earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry with a minor in mathematics from University of Maryland in 1974, and a doctorate in organic chemistry with a minor in physical chemistry from American University in 1983. His graduate research into the kinetics of alcohol cyclization involved the derivation of rate constants of transient intermediate processes through the development of a novel non-linear regression technique. Before joining the Chemistry Division, in 1985, Dr. Morris served as the chemistry division head at Artech Corp., where his research group supported the Navy fuel program through the David Taylor Naval Ship R&D Center.