Annual NRL Sigma Xi Awards Recognize Scientists for Original Research Achievements

10/9/2003 - 72-03w
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NRL's Edison Chapter of Sigma Xi, the national scientific research honor society, recently named Dr. Jerry Meyer of the Optical Sciences Division as the winner of its Pure Science Award, Ms. Anne Kusterbeck of the Center for Bio/Molecular Science and Engineering (CBMSE) as the recipient of the Applied Science Award, and Dr. Rhonda Stroud of the Materials Science and Technology Division as this year's Young Investigator Award honoree.

These awards are presented for distinguished contributions in pure and applied science, and to acknowledge exemplary technical success in scientific research at NRL. The Young Investigator Award is given to an outstanding young researcher who is within 10 years of his/her highest degree. Each of the awards is based on unclassified articles in reviewed scientific publications or classified reports.

Dr. Meyer, head of the Quantum Opto-electronics Section and recipient of the Pure Science Award, was recognized for his contributions to the physics of narrow-gap quantum hetero-structures and quantum-well lasers for the infrared.

The award specifically notes Dr. Meyer "as one of the world's leading theoretical authorities on quantum-engineered hetero-structure material properties, quantum-well design via wave-function engineering, and novel device concepts. His widely-imitated type-II "W" laser is considered a major breakthrough in mid-IR opto-electronics."

The award nomination states that "under Dr. Meyer's leadership, his research group has investigated advanced theory and simulation methods in semiconductor physics, MBE growth, e-beam nano-lithography, and a variety of cutting-edge opto-electronic probes. New concepts emerging from this research include a recently demonstrated anti-monide quantum cascade laser, an inter-valley electro-optical modulator, and a novel second harmonic generator whose efficiency exceeded the prior state of the art by more than a factor of 3. His type-II "W" laser concept, whose name comes from the distinctive shape of its conduction bond profile, has proven to be the most important inter-band mid-IR laser breakthrough in recent years."

Dr. Meyer's work on semi-conductor optical and transport phenomena has included pioneering studies of "dynamic screening" in bi-polar plasmas, multi-ion screening in doped materials, and a super-lattice transport theory that smoothly bridges the gap between 3-dimensional bulk systems and 2-dimensional quantum-wells. His research accomplishments include: the development of several now-standard design innovations to the inter-band cascade laser (ICL); demonstration of the first III-V mid-IR vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser; innovative designs leading to the first demonstration of a lead-salt laser (VCSEL) operating at nearly room temperature with a very low threshold; a diamond pressure bond heat-sink achieving excellent thermal properties with almost no processing; demonstration of the first mid-IR angled-grating distributed feed-back laser; and a two-dimensional photonic-crystal distributed feed-back concept that is expected to yield higher single-mode powers than approaches currently known.

Dr. Meyer has produced over 170 refereed journal articles, 11 book chapters, 16 patents and 60 invited presentations in the past ten years. His awards include: five Alan Berman Research Publications Awards, an NRL Distinguished Contribution Allowance Award, two Special Act awards, a Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer, and a Technology Transfer Royalty Award. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and the Optical Society of America (OSA), a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and a member of the Materials Research Society and the International Society Optical Engineers (SPIE).

Dr. Meyer received his B.S. degree in engineering physics from the University of Tennessee, in 1972. He earned his M.S. degree and Ph.D. in physics from Brown University, in 1974 and 1977 respectively. He served as an NRC Research Associate at NRL from 1977 to 1979. Dr. Meyer joined NRL's Optical Sciences Division in 1980, as a research physicist conducting investigations of optical and transport properties of narrow-gap IR detector materials. He assumed his present position as head of the Quantum Opto-electronics Section in 2000.

Ms. Anne Kusterbeck, Assistant Director of CBMSE and winner of the Applied Science Award, was recognized for "successfully developing and transitioning flow immunosensor technology, from basic concept to commercial instruments, for use by the Navy and the Nation for environmental monitoring, law enforcement, workplace safety and homeland security."

The flow immunosensor is an antibody-based sensor for the real-time detection of small molecules. Ms. Kusterbeck's work on developing the technology and later commercializing instruments for explosives and drugs of abuse has had a significant impact on Navy and Environmental Protection Agency programs for environmental monitoring of explosives, as well as on drug screening for law enforcement agencies and workplace communities. The commercial biosensor that uses the flow immunosensor technology was named a Top 100 Technology of 2002 by Popular Science magazine.

Working as part of a CBMSE team to develop explosives detectors for aviation security in the late 1980s, Ms. Kusterbeck performed the essential proof-of-concept experiments that led to several seminal papers and patents on displacement immunoassays and biosensors design. She became the principal investigator on the explosives biosensor project and worked as the technical project manager for a cooperative research and development agreement for a biosensor for drugs of abuse. In the mid-1990s, Ms. Kusterbeck began to apply these concepts to the trace detection of analytes in environmental water samples and successfully demonstrated the advantages of CBMSE-developed prototype biosensors for on-site detection and environmental monitoring.

Currently, Ms. Kusterbeck is conducting research related to underwater chemical detection and locating unexploded ordnance under water.

Ms. Kusterbeck has a B.S. in biology from Virginia's College of William and Mary, conducted postgraduate work in biology at the University of Georgia, and holds an M.S. in management from the University of Maryland. She is the recipient of numerous NRL awards, including an Edison Patent Award, two Technology Transfer Awards, a 75th Anniversary Innovation Award, and a group achievement award. In 1992, Ms. Kusterbeck received a technology transfer award from the Federal Laboratory Consortium and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. She serves as the Navy liaison for Biotechnology to The Technical Cooperation Program Materials Group and has co-organized several international workshops on explosives detection and biotechnology for defense applications.

Dr. Stroud, recipient of the Young Investigator Award, was recognized for her work on quasicrystals, colossal magnetoresistance and transmission electron microscopy of nanoscale materials. Dr. Graham Hubler, head of the Surface Modification Branch, said, "In her relatively short research career, Dr. Stroud has distinguished herself as one of the top young materials physicists, and demonstrated valuable leadership skills here at NRL."

Dr. Stroud's thesis work at Washington University led to the discovery of the first stable Ti-based quasicrystal. This discovery spawned research in hydrogen and deuterium loaded quasicrystals, for basic studies of the structure of interstitial spaces in quasicrystals and for application as hydrogen storage media. After coming to NRL as a National Research Council postdoctoral associate in 1996, she demonstrated that colossal magnetoresistance in manganites arises from disorder-induced polaron formation. The international recognition of this work included invitations for Dr. Stroud to speak at Cambridge University; Imperial College; University of Birmingham, UK; Argonne National Laboratory; University of New Mexico; University of Iowa; University of Pittsburgh; and the International Conference on Colossal Magnetoresistance in Melbourne, Australia.

Since she became an NRL staff member in 1998, she applies transmission electron microscopy to the study of nanoscale materials. The quality of this work has been recognized through prestigious publications, including articles in Science, Nature, and Physical Review Letters, as well as financially, through the award of a National Nanotech Initiative grant of $643,000 for the purchase of a high-resolution analytical transmission electron microscope. This new instrument will allow the determination of structural, compositional, and chemical valence information on sub-nanometer scale and make major contributions to NRL's nanotechnology programs.

Dr. Stroud received her B.A. from Cornell University in 1991 and her Ph.D. from Washington University, St. Louis, in 1996, both in physics. She is a member of the American Physical Society, the Materials Research Society, the Microscopy Society of America and the Meteoritical Society.

Dr. Stroud has received 2000 and 2002 NRL Alan Berman Research Publication Awards, a 1999 NRL Chemistry Division Superior Publication Award, and two 1996 National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards.

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