NEWS | Aug. 1, 2012

Dr. Lenny Tender Receives the Arthur S. Flemming Award

By Daniel Parry

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory research chemist, Dr. Lenny Tender, is recipient of the 2011 Arthur S. Flemming Award, presented June 4 at the 63rd annual awards event hosted by The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Established in 1948, the award honors outstanding federal workers in the categories of applied science, engineering and mathematics, research, and managerial or legal achievement. Selected from all areas of the federal service, award winners are recognized by the President of the United States, agency heads and industry leaders.

Co-inventor of the Benthic Unattended Generator (BUG), a microbial fuel cell that persistently generates electrical power in marine environments, Tender is an internationally recognized leader in microbial fuel cell (MFC) research that spans implications in alternative, carbon neutral, energy generation that address pressing needs of the Navy, Department of Defense (DoD) and the Nation.

Tender's research in benthic MFC development has significant implications to future Navy capabilities with respect to persistent in-water Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations for warfighters in riverine, estuarine, and close-in littoral environments.

With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Tender has expanded his MFC research to include wastewater treatment. Whereas conventional treatment processes consume significant power, an issue that confronts the DoD and developing countries alike, MFCs may enable power generation from wastewater treatment. His research has also resulted in the recent demonstration of an MFC in which photosynthetic microorganisms are incorporated that regenerate MFC reactants from the products, enabling power generation from sunlight with internal energy storage.

In addition to his scientific obligations and contributions, Tender also heads the Laboratory for Interfacial Interactions at the Center for Bio/Molecular Science and Engineering, overseeing the highly multidisciplinary work of 16 federal scientists and a number of post-doctoral fellows working in a variety of research areas to include immunoassays, microbiology, chemical/biological surface modification and micropatterning, fluorescence surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy, molecular self-assembly, barnacle adhesion, and interfacial kinetics and thermodynamics.

Tender also contributes to the development of future scientists by mentoring five post-doctoral associates, two of which are now his colleagues, one graduate student by special appointment to the University of Maryland faculty, one undergraduate student, and a total of 22 high school student interns.

The award is named after Dr. Arthur Sherwood Flemming (1905-1996) who began federal service in 1939 as member of the U.S. Civil Service Commission and developed a career that spanned seven decades providing exemplary service to the federal government and higher education. He went on to serve as president of three universities, Director of the Office of Defense Mobilization, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and Chairman of both the U.S. Commission on Aging and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Flemming was Chairman of the Citizens Commission on Civil Rights and Co-chair of Save Our Security Coalition. In 1994, President Bill Clinton awarded Flemming the Medal of Freedom in recognition of his peerless dedication to his country.