NEWS | Aug. 13, 2012

NRL Research Scientist Dr. Keith Knipling Honored with Presidential Award

By Daniel Parry

President Barack Obama has conferred upon U.S. Naval Research Laboratory research scientist, Dr. Keith Knipling, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their professional careers.

Knipling is awarded the PECASE for contributions to the fundamental understanding of the deformation mechanisms that occur during friction stir welding, the development of new soft magnetic alloys with improved energy efficiency and the design of new high-strength high-temperature aluminum alloys, resulting in new materials and processes with improved energy efficiency.

Friction stir welding is an emerging, commercially viable joining process and is currently used to join aluminum deck sections on the superstructure of the USS Freedom (LCS 1). Knipling's research on extending this process to other Navy-relevant materials (steel and titanium) will result in reduced fabrication costs and improved strength on other Naval platforms.

Dr. Knipling is especially deserving of the PECASE Award, said Dr. Richard Everett, acting superintendent, Materials Science and Technology Division. He is well regarded among his peers for both the high quality of his research and the breadth of this knowledge of materials science, as evidenced by his publications and citations to his work.

Knipling earned his Ph.D. from Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., in 2006, under the guidance of professors David Seidman and David Dunand. His research focused on developing new precipitation-strengthened aluminum alloys for high-temperature applications.

In the fall of 2006, Knipling came to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C., as a National Research Council Fellow. Supervised by Dr. Richard Fonda, his research studied the microstructures and crystallographic textures that develop during friction stir welding of aluminum, steel, and titanium alloys. Currently a staff scientist at NRL, Knipling has continued his interests in understanding the deformation mechanisms occurring during friction stir welding. Another area of research is developing new, more energy efficient soft magnetic alloys.

Knipling's research addresses needs in the Naval S&T Strategic Plan, particularly in the Power and Energy focus area.

The Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers embodies the high priority placed by the government on maintaining the leadership position of the United States in science by producing outstanding scientists and engineers and nurturing their continued development. The Awards identify a cadre of outstanding scientists and engineers who will broadly advance science and the missions important to the participating agencies.

Established by President Clinton in 1996, the awards are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.