NEWS | Aug. 9, 2010

NRL Researchers Receive Seven Top Scientists and Engineers Awards

By Amanda Bowie

Seven Naval Research Laboratory researchers received the prestigious 2009 Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Award. The Honorable Dr. Delores Etter, former Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development & Acquisition), established the award in 2006 to recognize Navy civilian and military personnel for superior scientific and engineering achievements, and to promote continued scientific and engineering excellence. A total of 15 group and individual Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Awards were presented this year, representing 18 scientists and engineers.

Nearly 35,000 Navy scientists and engineers are eligible to receive the award. The honorees represent various commands across the Department of the Navy. Nominees must have demonstrated exceptional scientific and engineering achievement in their field during the preceding calendar year of the award.

This year's honorees were recognized at a ceremony at the Pentagon. The Honorable Sean J. Stackley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development & Acquisition) gave the opening remarks. The Honorable Zachary J. Lemnios, Director, Defense Research & Engineering, Department of Defense, was this year's invited speaker.

NRL recipients represent five Laboratory divisions. There were seven NRL researchers named as Top Scientists and Engineers. Four individual awards and a group award were presented as follows:

Chemistry Division

Dr. Karen Swider-Lyons, Alternative Energy Section - for leading a team of scientists and engineers to develop a fuel-cell power unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which demonstrated greater than 24-hr continuous flight. This feat opens up a new era in small unmanned air vehicles to provide long term intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities for the US military. The fuel cell propulsion system provides stealthy, low-level flight capabilities not available with combustion engine UAVs and long endurance not afforded by battery powered UAVs. The propulsion system developed by Swider-Lyons and her team is now being adapted for military-relevant UAVs and other unmanned ground and sea-based military platforms.

Information Technology Division

Mr. Joseph Macker, Protocol Engineering and Advanced Networking Research Group - for his technical vision and community leadership in mobile wireless and disadvantaged network technology. His innovative achievements include protocol designs, protocol standards, and research methodologies that have transitioned to the Navy, Joint DoD, and the technical community at large. Specifically, his designs for mobile routing and reliable transport are addressing the unique needs of present USN challenging missions involving asymmetric communications and reliable group collaboration as well as future mission capabilities such as increased airborne networking elements and reach forward networked communications. In addition to his numerous R&D accomplishments, Mr. Macker is a community leader and pioneer in mobile wireless routing and reliable data transport. Overall, his exemplary performance is in keeping with the highest traditions of the professional civil service corps and warrants the recognition associated with the Department of the Navy Top Scientist of 2009 Award.

Optical Sciences Division

Mr. James Waterman, Maritime Sensing Section - for his successful leadership of the design, development, integration, and testing of an operational prototype system providing day/night situational awareness for submarine periscopes. He made key technical contributions that enabled successful execution of project and validation that its performance met or exceeded requirements. This is the first demonstration of a system with sufficient resolution and sensitivity to meet range requirements for detection of conventional and asymmetric threats. The prototype system will be tested in an at-sea demonstration in FY11.

Space Science Division

Mr. Andrew Nicholas, Solar Physics Section - for overcoming the engineering challenges encountered in space-flight sensor development with creative and effective problem solving skills. These strengths have allowed him to conceive and deploy state-of-the-art sensors with high scientific return. These capabilities and his demonstrated leadership, which have produced two successful sensor programs with both scientific and operational relevance, point toward strong future contributions to the Navy.

Electronics Science and Technology Division

Dr. Mario Ancona, Nanotechnology Section; Dr. Brian Bennett, Nanotechnology Section; and Dr. Bradley Boos, High-Speed, Low-Power Devices Section - for their important contributions to the development of ultra-low-power electronics. The nominees have been world leaders in the use of narrow-band-gap compound semiconductors for high-speed, low-power transistors for several years. In 2009, they made a critical breakthrough toward digital circuits by demonstrating a strain-induced five-fold enhancement in the hole mobility in GaSb. This is an essential step toward complementary circuits for low-power digital applications including high-speed A-D and D-A conversion for high-performance radar, electronic warfare, communication, sensing, and autonomous systems.