An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News & Media : News

    NRL News & Press Releases

NEWS | June 13, 2023

NRL Researchers Receive Navy’s Top Scientists and Engineers Award

By Nicholas Pasquini, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Corporate Communications

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory scientists and engineers will receive the prestigious Department of Navy (DON) Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Award, June 15, during an awards ceremony hosted at the Pentagon.
"All awardees should be very proud of their accomplishments," said Frederick J. Stefany, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN (RD&A)) Acting. "The technical excellence displayed by their achievements, their contributions, and the resulting payoff to the Department of the Navy is significant."

The Etter Award is presented annually to scientists and engineers who have demonstrated a superior accomplishment that is technically outstanding and highly beneficial operationally to the Department of the Navy and national defense. Nearly 35,000 Navy scientists and engineers are eligible each year to receive the award. Selected honorees demonstrated exceptional scientific and engineering achievement in their field during the preceding calendar year.
Dr. Etter, a former ASN (RD&A), 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.
The NRL recipients honored as the 2023 Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers for achievement in Calendar Year 2022:

Mr. Brian Adamson, Individual Engineer
Adamson delivered significant contributions in the development of advanced network and communications technology to support Naval and Department of Defense (DOD) tactical operations including providing technical oversight for the development and maturation of the Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS) software-based network routing and communications resource management capability. Adamson’s role was multi-faceted, including software development for some portions of the technology, establishment of an agile, test-driven software development approach, and development of a rigorous high-fidelity integration, test and evaluation framework for delivering a complex product with high assurance of operation in dynamic, tactical data communications environments. CaaS provides next-generation networking capabilities with adaptation of software-defined networking principles to tactical wireless and other Naval and DOD communications systems. CaaS is designed to provide and dynamically maintain appropriate paths and forwarding service for mission critical data flows with stringent quality of service requirements to support distributed maritime operations and force-level integrated fire control. CaaS has transitioned to the PMW-160 program office and is being productized, with Adamson’s assistance, and on track to meet initial operational capability and planned full operational capability objectives.
Dr. Kenan L. Cole, Individual Engineer

Cole successfully led the design, development, fabrication and testing of advanced electronic attack systems for Navy and Army missions. Cole organized and successfully executed multiple electronic warfare (EW) field test campaigns involving industry partners and government organizations. Cole’s work executing the high profile test events required substantial interactions with multiple warfare centers, laboratories, industry, coalition partners and DOD military. Cole’s work was instrumental in demonstrating advanced EW system performance during complex test events that involved multiple ships, ground vehicles, and aircraft. Cole’s work advanced EW solutions addressing both Navy and U.S. Army needs. Cole’s test events also resulted in key EW demonstrations marked as national firsts.  Cole’s work provided both risk reduction and acceleration of the Navy’s Scaled Onboard Electronic Attack (EA) Program of Record. Cole was funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense to explore improvements in cross service utilization of EA assets and technology to speed fielding and reduce cost. 
Dr. Sophie M. Colston, Emergent Scientist

Colston applied her background as a formally-trained microbiologist and former officer in the U.S. Navy to develop a DNA sequencing package fieldable by a single person suitable for use by minimally-trained operators. The core capability and training modules that Colston has developed enable the ability to 'read' DNA in the field in near real time and lend themselves to a number of different DON and non-DOD community uses. The technology has been successfully demonstrated for DON and DOD uses such as field identification of biological warfare pathogens, detection of SARS-CoV-2 from wastewater, determination of envenomation risks using environmental DNA sequencing at military diver training sites, and microbiome characterization in and on U.S. Navy surface vessels. By bringing this gold standard capability forward, Colston has developed a broadly applicable, biotechnology-based solution set that can increase the confidence of tactically-relevant decisions made on or near the objective while reducing the overall sample-to-answer time and logistics burden and providing better force health protection. The value of Colston’s research to DON and DOD is timely and broadly applicable. Her focus on developing and validating the methods, software, and hardware necessary for robust DNA sequencing operations by minimally-trained users in a variety of forward operational environments spans expeditionary to tactical use cases.
Mr. Mark A. Busse, Ms. Winjoy Cheung, J. B. Evins, Mr. Clifford W. Owen, Mr. Gregory C. Tavik, Teams, Flexible Distributed Array Radar (FlexDAR)
Since its invention in the 1930s at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, radar provides the U.S. Navy tactical advantage and the ability to exploit the radio frequency (RF) spectrum for the Detect, Control, Engage process. To date, these radars serve as an organic component of the platform combat system. One highly visible example is the AN/SPY-1 radar integrated with the Aegis Combat System.
While these systems provide dominant capabilities to the warfighter, they are increasingly vulnerable to evolving threats. In response to this vulnerability, over the last decade, the NRL Flexible Distributed Array Radar (FlexDAR) team has made outstanding contributions to the development of advanced Naval distributed radar technology. The ONR-sponsored program has been a collaboration between NRL and Raytheon Technologies.
The FlexDAR concept was conceived and developed by NRL in the period between 2010 and 2013. A contract was awarded to Raytheon Technologies in 2014 for the front-end array electronics, and the system was integrated with the NRL developed back-end signal/data processing, display, and control subsystem. Preliminary operation using surrogate systems began in late 2019, with demonstration of distributed operation in 2022. 
Systems are installed at the NRL Chesapeake Bay Detachment and the NASA Wallops Flight Facility. The concept was developed to demonstrate new and advanced distributed radar capabilities enabled by the implementation of every-element digital beamforming (EEDBF) antenna arrays, along with organic networking capability and precise time synchronization.
This unique combination of technologies provides a huge leap in antenna capabilities enabling new, robust advanced radar capabilities. This, along with the NRL-developed flexible digital processing, offers a number of attractive features well beyond the capabilities of conventional arrays and radar systems. 
FlexDAR demonstrates dramatic performance improvements in detection range, tracking accuracy, track promotion speed, and electronic protection when operated in a distributed configuration. Each of the radars incorporates every element digital transmit and receive beamforming that enables multiple simultaneous full-gain receive beams within each array’s field of view.
Each radar operates at S-band and consists of 1,008 elements. Two FlexDAR nodes became operational in 2022 and will allow the capabilities of the FlexDAR concept to be fully developed and demonstrated over the coming months and years. The FlexDAR system represents the state-of-the-art in distributed radar technology. The concept will guide the development of new radar systems, which are now widely expected to incorporate distributed operation, multiple beams, and dynamic reconfiguration.

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Flexible Distributed Array Radar (FLexDAR) Team comprised of Mr. Mark Busse, Ms. Winjoy Cheung, J. B. Evins, Mr. Gregory Tavik, and Mr. Cliff Owen gather for a group shot in front of the FlexDAR equipment shelters at the NRL Chesapeake Bay Detachment in Chesapeake Beach, Md., May 24, 2023. The NRL-developed FlexDAR Back End software has been released by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) for use in several other programs, facilitating rapid development and demonstration of other radar capabilities. FlexDAR concepts enable continued U.S. dominance of the radio frequency spectrum. (U.S. Navy photo)
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.
For more information, contact NRL Corporate Communications at (202) 480-3746 or

News Search