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NEWS | June 21, 2022

NRL Scientists, Researchers Recipients of 2022 Dr. Delores Etter Awards

By Paul Cage, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Corporate Communications

A group of U.S. Naval Research Laboratory scientists recently won the Assistant Secretary of the Navy Research, Development and Acquisition (RD&A) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers for the Year 2022 Award in individual and team categories.
Presented annually in June, this prestigious Navy award recognizes technical superiority, innovation, technical merit, operational impact and applicability to Assistant Secretary of the Navy RD&A priorities.
“Our winners represent the very best of professionalism, ingenuity, and achievement among their peers,” NRL’s Director of Research, Bruce Danly, Ph.D. said. “These awards recognize the excellence of the highest performing scientists and engineers that we as an organization have been fostering for nearly 100 years. Their efforts and the recognition of their efforts reflect well on the relevance of NRL to the naval forces.”
In the Individual Emergent Scientist category, Experimental Electrical Engineer Stephanie Tomasulo, Ph.D, developed materials for infrared detectors and emitters that provide critical Department of Defense (DoD) capabilities, including chemical sensing, infrared search and track, and large-format infrared imaging. These advances will directly impact the naval warfighters by enabling and improving new devices that provide enhanced situational awareness and infrared spectrum dominance.
“While this is an individual award, of course I have been supported by colleagues and mentors, without whom, this work wouldn’t be possible,” Tomasulo said. “It is especially meaningful that the research I'm doing along with my colleagues is being recognized. Given the exceptional talent of the researchers within the Naval Research Enterprise, it is a real honor to be chosen for this award.”
In the Individual Emergent Scientist category, Computer Scientist David M. Sidoti, Ph.D., conceived, developed, and transitioned fast, accurate, and flexible systems to provide submarine operating authorities with tools to enhance their collision avoidance and their weapons release for global water space planning. These bring optimization and artificial intelligence tools to bear to help create a more lethal force.
“It feels very gratifying to win this award,” Sidoti said. “The award serves as validation that the research direction I’ve headed in is meaningful to others beyond just my research scope, and likely wouldn’t have been possible without such a strong support base that my division’s administration and management provide. The award being not just at the division level, or NRL level, but beyond and at the overall Department of Navy level further concretizes the magnitude of the recognition.”
In the team category, Materials Research Engineers Scott Olig and Cameron Moser led Navy efforts to develop new test facilities and tests to allow for isothermal, frequency dependent dynamic and static stiffness characterizations that support the Navy’s development of waterborne bearing capabilities. Their work showcased exceptional expertise in combined effects mechanical testing, environmental control and understanding of the response of such factors on metallic-elastomer interfaces.
“Being recognized with an award representing the level of work that Dr. Etter or any of the Navy’s top science and engineering community have performed is both humbling and exciting,” Olig said. “Working with this team, which is actually much bigger than Cameron and me, continues to be a privilege. Leveraging our peers’ expertise, review, technical scrutiny, and ability to construct the infrastructure capable of withstanding demanding requirements is what put our team in position for success, and I look forward continuing our work.”
In the group category, Brilliant Effects Employment Shadow (BEES) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) team established advanced real-time unmanned autonomous multi-INT sensor, platform, and cooperative target detection and electronic warfare (EW) effects capabilities in mission relevant operational environments. BEES system performs ISR and EW operations in areas inaccessible to manned platforms and outside of communication.
BEES JCTD team members are: Head, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Systems Section Thomas J. Walls, Ph.D.; Director, Center for Computational Science Basil A. Decina; Branch Senior Staff Michael L. Wilson, Ph.D.; Head, Applied Optics Branch Dale C. Linne von Berg.
“The team, from NRL, to industry and academia members from across the U.S., was great to work with through this program,” Wilson said. “Everyone worked so well together to bring the final tests to completion. In the end we were able to demonstrate new capabilities for operators in live exercises and that was an amazing topper on the project.”
In the Across Naval Research and Development Establishment group category, Nickel Aluminum Bronze (NAB) Alloying for Large Propulsor Castings team developed and implemented an innovative alloying method for large, slow cooled castings of nickel aluminum bronze. This alloying method was shown to greatly improve mechanical properties in both laboratory experiments and full-scale foundry production, directly impacting submarine construction programs and its ability to meet performance and schedule requirements.
NAB team members are: NRL’s Materials Research Engineers Derek Horton, Ph.D. and Mary Parker, Ph.D.; Naval Foundry and Propeller Center Mechanical Engineer Trevor Thayer, Materials Engineering Supervisor Sarah Byrnes, and Engineering Manager for Naval Sea Systems Command 05P3 Submarine Propeller and Propulsor Technical Warrant Holder Meredith Wells.
“This is an honor for our team to be recognized for our efforts,” Horton said. “Our team spanned every facet of the Naval enterprise from research to production and had significant support from a large group of people at each organization. This provided a unique opportunity to leverage laboratory-scale research to identify the root cause and evaluate mitigation strategies to then inform large-scale validation experiments using the actual production process.”
The award – sponsored by the assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition – is named for the Honorable Delores M. Etter, Ph.D., who served as U.S. deputy undersecretary of Defense for Science and Technology from 1998 to 2001 and ASN RD&A from 2005 to 2007.

About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

NRL is a scientific and engineering command dedicated to research that drives innovative advances for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps from the seafloor to space and in the information domain. NRL is located in Washington, D.C. with major field sites in Stennis Space Center, Mississippi; Key West, Florida; Monterey, California, and employs approximately 3,000 civilian scientists, engineers and support personnel.
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