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 | April 9, 2024

NRL Recognizes Researchers During Centennial Innovation Awards Ceremony For Major Impacts On National Security

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

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) recognized Centennial Innovation awardees during a ceremony on Apr. 8 held at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., for major impacts on national security.
The Centennial Innovation Awards honor 28 of the most creative and impactful accomplishments ranging from 1998 to 2023. The scientists and engineers were presented the awards for their efforts and on behalf of all who contributed over many years to advance these naval technologies collectively.
“Today in the Red Sea our Sailors are serving superbly and employing the technology that you and our colleagues developed and fielded,” said Office of Naval Research Chief of Naval Research Rear. Adm. Kurt J. Rothenhaus. “From the paint on the bottom of the hull to the antenna at the top of the mast, our ships, submarines, aircraft amphibious capabilities rest on a foundation of superior science. I like to think of the Program Officers and researchers as the beating heart of naval research – in the end, we’re all really here to support you in your research.”

The laboratory has made an enormous cumulative impact over a time span that includes a World War, a long Cold War, and a multitude of regional conflicts and crises. In its early years, the laboratory helped create a Navy second to none, and thereafter it has played an important role in preserving America's naval supremacy on, under and above the seas.

“NRL has a well-established record of success,” said NRL Director of Research Dr. Bruce G. Danly, SES. “More than a few of its innovations have had a decisive impact on world events. The most obvious are three technologies that each tilted the military balance of power: the first U.S. radar; the world’s first intelligence satellite; and the concept and satellite prototypes that led to the Global Positioning System. While not quite as prominent, many thousands of NRL achievements over the past century, some still classified, have contributed greatly to America’s naval superiority.”
NRL has helped build — in league with its government, university, and industry partners — the most resilient naval fighting force in the world, which in turn helped to enhance America’s security, prosperity, and role in global affairs.
“For a century, the NRL has stood at the forefront of basic science, translating fundamental knowledge into superior capabilities for our Sailors and Marines,” said NRL Commanding Officer Capt. Jesse H. Black. “Our recognitions today only scratch the surface of our contributions, emphasizing our commitment to understanding the unknown to achieve decision superiority across all domains and ensure the continued superiority of our naval forces. The laboratory's role as a nexus for innovation guarantees our collective readiness to meet the evolving threats to our national security.”
Reflecting on a century of scientific excellence, these researchers draw inspiration from the NRL's inception in the aftermath of World War I, recognizing the pivotal role of scientific innovation in national defense. “Today, as we face new global security challenges, our commitment to advancing science and technology is unwavering,” Black said. “The NRL's first 100 years have laid a formidable foundation. Yet, in the spirit of continuous exploration and improvement, we affirm: We are just getting started.”

These awardees play an integral role in delivering the Department of Defense (DOD) the special knowledge, capabilities, and agility to succeed in today’s dynamic warfighting environment. This set of awards complements the set of 75th Anniversary Innovation Awards given in 1998.
NRL Centennial Innovation Awards:
In the area of Electromagnetic Warfare:
Dr. Scott M. Rudolph received the award for AN/ALE-50 Towed Countermeasures. The AN/ALE-50 Towed Countermeasure was the first towed decoy to be used as an in-flight countermeasure. The towed-decoy concept differs from the traditional goals of electronic warfare, where antiaircraft missiles are denied the information needed to launch and intercept. At a relatively modest cost of $22,000 per decoy, this system made billions of dollars’ worth of advanced antiaircraft threats in the hands of the U.S.’s opponents less effective.
Mr. Gregory C. Tavik received the award for Anti-Ship Missile Defense Radar. NRL developed its Anti-Ship Missile Defense Radar to detect and track sea-skimming missiles near the horizon in difficult littoral environments with extremely low false-alarm rates. The radar operates simultaneously in both surface and air modes, with the air mode providing an unprecedented clutter-rejection level orders of magnitude better than previous technology.
Dr. Francis J. Klemm received the award for NULKA Offboard Countermeasure System. The NULKA Offboard Countermeasure System, developed in partnership with the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation, is a quick-reaction offboard electronic countermeasure decoy to defeat anti-ship missiles. NULKA is now deployed on numerous Australian and U.S. warships under a $1 billion program.
In the area of Undersea Warfare:
Dr. Harry Simpson and Dr. Zachary J. Waters received the award for Structural Acoustics. NRL developed structural acoustics-based sonar technology for search and identification of underwater targets. This new technology uses machine learning and a diverse set of “fingerprints” leading to high probability of detection and classification, low false-alarm rates, longer-range operation, and low-frequency sediment penetration leading to potential buried target prosecution.
In the area of Communications, Information Technology and Cyber Warfare:
Mr. David A. Derieux received the award for Tactical Communications. In the 1990s, NRL developed three major items of tactical receive equip­ment for communications: the Multi-Mission Advanced Tactical Terminal (MATT), the Improved Data Modem (IDM), and the Joint Combat Information Terminal (JCIT). These technologies allow first responders to communicate when local infrastructure is destroyed.
Dr. William S. Rabinovich and Dr. Linda M. Thomas received the award for Free Space Optics Communications. Free space optics communication is the use of modulated light to transmit data through the air, an alternative to radio communication and transmission of data. The military utility of free space optics communications has resulted in the design and delivery of fourth-generation systems for the Marine Corps. This game-changing capability is a foundation for future expansion to other platforms and operational environments.
Dr. Gautam B. Trivedi received the award for Flying Squirrel. Flying Squirrel is an NRL-developed software application suite that provides real-time discovery, analysis, and mapping of IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n wireless networks and is also capable of scanning for Bluetooth devices. Flying Squirrel provides organizations the means to securely integrate wireless capabilities into their networks.
Dr. Paul F. Syverson received the award for Onion Routing, Tor, and Onion Services. NRL invented onion routing as a way to “peel off” and separate identification from routing for Internet connections. Onion routing provides confidentiality and authentication of the route that a connection takes between client and server.
In the area of Battlespace Environments:
Dr. Stephen Eckermann received the award for Mountain Wave Forecast. NRL developed the Mountain Wave Forecast Model (MWFM), the only meteorological model ca­pable of globally forecasting mountain wave activity and wave-induced turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere from near the surface to beyond 100,000 feet. It has been used to direct flights with NASA/European Union aircraft and balloons for studying the physics of polar stratospheric clouds.
Mr. Dale C. Linne von Berg and Dr. Jeffrey H. Bowles received the award for Hyperspectral Imager for Tactical and Environmental Uses. NRL advances in digital reconnaissance and hyperspectral imaging technologies have been fielded in systems such as the F/A-18 SHAred Reconnaissance Pod (or SHARP pod), which replaced the aging film-based F-14 Tactical Air­borne Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS), and the Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO) space borne sensor flown on the International Space Station. The technology is adaptable to manned or unmanned platforms.
Mr. E. Joseph Metzger received the award for Global Ocean Forecast System. The Global Ocean Forecast System (GOFS) is the U.S. Navy’s global ocean prediction system. It was declared operational in February 2006 and was based on two NRL-developed ocean models, the Navy Layered Ocean Model (NLOM) and the Navy Coastal Ocean Model (NCOM). Further enhancements became operational in 2013 and 2018 with ONR sponsorship and academic partners. It runs daily at Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command production centers.
Dr. James Doyle received the award for Regional Tropical Cyclone Prediction Systems. NRL’s Coupled Ocean/Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System for Tropical Cyclones, or COAMPS-TC, is a regional prediction system designed to generate five-day forecasts of tropical cyclone track, intensity, and structure. The COAMPS-TC deterministic system and COAMPS-TC Ensemble Prediction System have now supported operations for the Navy and Department of Defense worldwide for a decade.
Dr. Elizabeth M. Twarog received the award for WindSat Space Borne Polarmetric Microwave Radiometer. NRL’s WindSat was the first satellite-based polarimetric microwave radiometer. Launched in 2003, WindSat’s tested and fully evaluated the viability of using passive polarimetric radiometry to retrieve the ocean surface wind speed and direction from space. In more than 17 years on orbit, WindSat also measured sea surface temperature, total precipitable water, integrated cloud liquid water, rain rate over the ocean, soil moisture, and sea ice.
In the area of Enabling Science and Technology:
Dr. Joseph W. Schumer received the award for Pulsed X-ray Radiography. NRL enabled breakthrough advances in pulsed X-ray radiography with its invention of the rod-pinch diode in the late 1970s. A second-generation version of the diode, the plasma-filled rod pinch, produces an extremely intense X-ray source with parameters previously thought to be impossible with conventional techniques. It provides images of unprecedented resolution in dynamic experiments studying the performance and safety of strategic system components.
Dr. David Meyer received the award for Gallium Nitride Transistor Development. NRL’s research has been critical to the successful development and application of gallium nitride as a next-generation material for semiconductors. Gallium nitride offers many advantages over silicon, the previous industry standard, including higher voltage and power handling, greater efficiency, and improved thermal performance. It enables advanced high-power capability of radio-frequency transmitters for naval radar and electronic attack.
In the area of Affordability and Sustainability:
Dr. James R. Martin received the award for Low-Solar-Absorbance Ship Paint. NRL developed low-solar-absorbance paint in order to reduce solar heating on Navy ships. Testing in 1995 demonstrated that this paint technology not only reduced ship surface temperatures and the load on air-conditioning systems, but also decreased the ship’s infrared signature.
Dr. Arthur A. Webb received the award for Rapid-Cure Corrosion Control Coatings. NRL pioneered, developed, and commercialized durable, rapid-cure coatings designed for harsh environments. These coating systems reduced a three-coat painting process to a single-coat process and offer a nearly instant “walk on time” and a rapid return to service, typically in minutes, not hours or days, as with other coating systems.
Dr. Erick B. Iezzi received the award for Topside Camouflage and Nonskid Deck Coatings. NRL developed and transitioned both two-component and single-component polysiloane-based coat­ings. For nonskid deck coatings, they possess greater external durability, color retention, and resistance to moisture, hydrocar­bons, and detergents. A single formulation can be rolled or sprayed for flight decks and walkways of both surface ships and subma­rines.
Mr. James P. Tagert received the award for High-Temperature Nonskid Decking. NRL developed Thermal Spray Nonskid, which is an inorganic, nonskid decking that is a robotically applied coating. It uses arc-wire thermal spray processes of commercially available hybrid aluminum/ceramic feedstock. NRL developed the surface preparation and process application parameters needed to produce the necessary performance for Navy ships.
In the area of Space Research and Technologies:
Mr. Keith A. Akins received the award for Tactical Satellite (TACSAT). NRL served as the program manager for TacSat-1, the first experiment of the initiative, which served as the pathfinder for a series of experiments. TacSat-2 and TacSat-3, Air Force-led with multiple NRL experiments aboard, were launched in 2006 and 2009. NRL was again the program manager for Navy’s TacSat-4 spacecraft, which was launched in 2011. TACSAT demonstrated that small satellites can provide satellite communication services to naval and joint military forces, and to civil defense agencies using their standard equipment, in high latitudes and geographically denied locales.
In the area of Autonomous Systems:
Ms. Peggy T. Davidson received the award for Dragon Eye. NRL, in collaboration with the Marine Corps Warfighting Labora­tory, developed an affordable and expendable airborne sensor platform, Dragon Eye. This unmanned air vehicle provided reconnaissance capabilities to small units of Marines to assess battle damage, to detect threats over the next hill or around the next building, and to prevent casualties from friendly fire. By 2010, a total of more than 1,300 Dragon Eye aircraft, designated RQ-14A, had been deployed to Iraq.
Mr. Kevin R. Cronin received the award for Hydrogen Fuel Cells for Unmanned Systems. NRL has made significant contributions to the field of hydrogen fuel cells and to their application as high-energy-density sources for un­manned systems. Fuel cells electrochemically convert hydrogen fuel and oxygen in air into electricity and water. They have extended the flight time and range of unmanned air systems and provided opportunities for new deployment strategies and missions.
In the area of Directed Energy:
Dr. Richard P. Fischer received the award for First Operational Shipboard Laser Weapon. Challenges posed by asymmetric warfare and hypersonic missiles are placing new demands on the U.S. Navy. These threats create the need for defensive weapons that have a low-cost per shot, offer a deep maga­zine, and are high-precision, high-speed, and compact in size. NRL pioneered the use of single-mode fiber lasers with very good optical beam quality to extend the effective range of incoherently combined lasers. This was deployed on USS Ponce in 2014.
In the area of Personnel Protection:
Dr. R. Andrew McGill received the award for Surface Acoustic Wave Chemical Sensors. NRL pioneered the use of surface acoustic wave (SAW) technology to detect chemical vapors including chemical warfare agents (CWA). The Laboratory’s efforts, dating back to 1981, were supported in the develop­mental stages by the U.S Army and the U.S. Air Force. It became a field­ed technology when the DOD’s Joint Chemical Agent Detector entered into low-rate production in 2007.
Dr. Jay P. Boris received the award for CT-Analyst®. NRL’s CT-Analyst®, or Contaminant Transport Analyst system, is the first operational instantaneous emergency assessment system for airborne contaminants and weapons-of-mass-destruction threats in cities. It is a product application based on NRL’s fundamental work in fluid dynamics and atmospheric research. It has been demonstrated and employed in multiple locations hosting secure high profile events.
Dr. David A. Stenger received the award for Silent Guardian: DNA Microarray Technology. NRL basic research was the foundation for the Resequencing Pathogen Microarray (RPM) bio-surveillance technology. It identified up to 100 different pathogen species in a single test using genetic sequencing and new bioinformatics algorithms. In 2005, the Silent Guardian demonstration – comprised of NRL scientists, Navy reservists, and U.S. Air Force staff – identified a full spectrum of circulating respiratory pathogens in samples from an active-duty military population, often at the level of strains or individual variants.
Dr. Amit Bagchi received the award for Personal Protective Equipment and Injury Biomechanics. QuadGard body armor was produced by an NRL-led industry-university-government team to protect Marines from severe arm and leg injuries caused by improvised explosive devices. It was mass produced for Marine Corps vehicle turret gunners deployed in Iraq. Concerns about traumatic brain injuries sustained during the same conflict resulted in the GelMan anthropomorphic head surrogate to measure blast effects on soft tissue simulants and brain cell cultures, provided new insights for protective equipment design.
Dr. Christopher C. Rudolf received the award for Transparent Armor. NRL demonstrated the economical repair of delaminated transparent vehicle armor at a fraction of the cost of a new part. NRL provided in-house technical expertise for the Marine Corps’ Program Executive Office Land Systems to develop, refine and transition the repair process to industry partners and received formal approval of the repair process.
“The very nature of science, innovation, and our mission compel us to move forward,” Danly said. “Tomorrow’s challenges will not wait for us to act – naval superiority is essential to deterrence and freedom of the seas. And when called upon to go into harm’s way, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps must be equipped with the weapons and capabilities to fight and win.”
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