Dr. Bhakta Rath Receives Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive

6/28/2005 - 31-05r
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Dr. Bhakta Rath, Associate Director of the Materials Science and Component Technology Directorate at the Naval Research Laboratory, is a recipient of the 2004 Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive. Each year, the President recognizes and celebrates a small group of career Senior Executives with the President's Rank Award for exceptional long-term accomplishments. Dr. Rath's nomination recognizes him for "his distinguished career as an educator, and as a research leader in industry and the U.S. Navy." He is noted for being "a strong and positive force in directing and fostering new innovations in materials science and engineering for the Navy and the Nation."

Dr. Rath began his career at NRL as head of the Physical Metallurgy Branch. Within six years, Dr. Rath was selected to head the Materials Science and Technology Division. Then within four more years, he was appointed the Associate Director of Research for Materials Science and Component Technology for NRL. As stated in the award nomination, the Materials Science and Component Technology Directorate leads NRL in scientific productivity and is rated in the top 10 worldwide in materials research.

Under his leadership at NRL, research program advancements include the use of novel materials behavior and chemical/biological processes for reduction of Navy environmental problems, especially in harbors and estuaries; sensors for chem-bio defense based on the coupling of electronics to cellular function, immunoassays and gene chips; explosives detection; survivability/lethality improvements through fire resistant materials and automated damage control for reduced manning; computational methods to predict materials properties; halon replacement in naval firefighting systems; high-temperature superconductors for power production and transmission; lasernet for predicting residual life of machineries; and solar reflecting hull paint for surface combatants, among others.

Dr. Rath's most recent success is his role in the establishment of an Institute for Nanoscience at NRL. Realizing the tremendous opportunities in the National Nanotechnology Initiative, he persisted over 15 years to successfully pursue military construction funds for the new building devoted to nanoscience research, and capital funds for the equipment required to conduct research at the nanoscale. The Nanoscience Research Laboratory building opened in fall 2003.

In the area of technology transfer, Dr. Rath has successfully led numerous efforts to rapidly transition science discoveries into Naval and DoD technology. Examples of science that have been transitioned include the Surface Acoustic Wave miniaturized chemical sensor, which has been commercialized and is under performance test evaluation by DoD as the new chemical warfare field sensor; coating technologies with special properties - skid-resistance for carrier decks, corrosion prevention for holding tanks, and solar energy reflection for reduced hull heat loading; the NQR system for the detection of explosives in containers, which has been commercialized and deployed to several Washington locations in response to September 11 incidents; demonstrations of new damage control hardware that have enabled significantly reduced manning on Naval ships; high temperature superconductors that have been incorporated into a full-scale ship propulsion system with higher power density; and a quality control specification for mobility fuels that saves the Navy an estimated $25 million per year in $1 billion per year fuel procurement.

During his career, Dr. Rath has participated in the formulation of materials science programs in and for the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and in connection with international bodies in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and China.

Dr. Rath is a Fellow of The Materials Society, the Washington Academy of Sciences, the American Society of Metals, the Indian National Academy of Engineers, and the British Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. He has received numerous honors and awards including the Presidential Rank Award, for sustained outstanding achievements of a Senior Executive (1999). He serves as a member of the advisory boards and review boards for several government agencies and a number of universities, and as a member of the editorial board of five international scientific journals. He also served as the Executive Chair of the Materials and Processes Group for The Technical Cooperation Program. In this position, Dr. Rath supervised more than fifty collaborative research and development projects to leverage the expertise of defense research facilities in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, along with U.S. Army and Air Force Laboratories. He is a member of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Science and Technology Council (OSTP NSTC) Subcommittee on Large Scale Science. Most recently Dr. Rath has been appointed by the Secretary of the Navy to represent DoD in developing collaborative R&D plans with the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration on a congressionally initiated major program on Methane Hydrates - An Alternate Energy Source.

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