NRL Researchers Receive 13 Top Navy Scientists and Engineers Awards

7/15/2008 - 36-08w
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Thirteen Naval Research Laboratory researchers received the prestigious 2007 Top Navy Scientists and Engineers of the Year Award. The Honorable Dr. Delores Etter, former Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development & Acquisition), 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. A total of 46 Top Navy Scientists and Engineers of the Year Awards were presented this year.

Over 35,000 Navy scientists and engineers are eligible for this award. This year's honorees represented various commands across the Department of the Navy, including NRL, Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Air Systems Command, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and Marine Corps Systems Command. Nominees must have demonstrated exceptional scientific and engineering achievement in their field during the preceding calendar year of the award. Nominees also include "Emerging Investigators" who contributed substantially during the year, have less than 10 years of government service, and show unique promise for future excellence. Achievements are considered significant when they establish a scientific basis for subsequent technical improvements of military importance, materially improve the Navy's technical capability, and/or materially contribute to national defense.

This year's honorees were recognized at a ceremony at the Pentagon on May 29, which featured a poster session of the winning research prior to the start of the ceremony. Following the presentation of colors, the national anthem, and the pledge of allegiance, Mr. John Thackrah, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) gave opening remarks. Dr. James Colvard, who currently serves on the personal staff of the Secretary of the Navy, focusing on acquisition workforce matters, was the invited speaker. A reception followed the presentation of the awards.

NRL recipients represent eight Laboratory divisions. Eight NRL researchers were named as Top Scientists and Engineers and five as Emerging Investigators. Three group and six individual awards were presented as follows:

Optical Sciences Division

Dr. William Rabinovich, Photonics Technology Branch - for accomplishments which have advanced greatly the state of the art in optical components and understanding of optical propagation through the atmosphere, and applying this knowledge to tactical free space optical communication systems. Dr. Rabinovich's work at the 6.1 to 6.3 level has shown that these systems offer many advantages for the Department of Defense, including high bandwidth and low probability of detection, as well as avoiding frequency allocation issues. The key advances demonstrated in 2007 have shown that these systems are practical for DoD use.

Mr. Ken Sarkady, Applied Optics Branch - for his successful and outstanding leadership of the development, integration, and testing of an operational prototype system capable of protecting Navy/Marine Corps tactical and rotary wing aircraft from IR guided AAM and SAM threats. This is the first demonstration of a system suitable for tactical aircraft that can detect IR guided threats at long range with a low false alarm rate in cluttered environments; that can defeat both legacy and modern IR guided threats; and that has the promise of defeating the emerging threats employing imaging seeker heads. The prototype system was recently successfully flight tested on an F/A-18E aircraft at the China Lake Naval Air Station. In addition, Mr. Sarkady managed the development of a prototype two-color infrared missile warning system capable protecting rotary wing aircraft from SAM threats and providing improved situational awareness in brownout conditions. This system is currently being adopted for use on all Marine Corps rotary wing aircraft.

Dr. Vincent Urick, Emerging Investigator, Photonics Technology Branch - for his role in the research and development of long-haul analog-photonic systems. Dr. Urick has pioneered the theoretical and experimental analysis of numerous unique fiber-optic systems for electromagnetic-warfare and intelligence-gathering applications. In 2007, significant advancements in optical-delay-line and fiber-optic-link technologies were achieved under his leadership at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. The results of his work make possible previously-unachievable capabilities for U.S. Navy and Defense Department systems. Dr. Urick's theoretical work not only enables present-day enhancements for existing systems but also provides a solid understanding and foundation of how analog fiber-optics can improve future assets of the U.S. Navy and other U.S. Government Agencies.

Tactical Electronic Warfare Division and Information Technology Division

Mr. William W. Everett, Electronic Warfare Systems Branch, and Mr. William W. Chambers, Transmission Technology Branch - for their theoretical and experimental research that has directly and substantially improved the scope and effectiveness of the EA-6B JUMPSTART and STOPLIGHT missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, Mr. Everett and Mr. Chambers identified, quantified, and recommended an effective and easily implemented solution to interoperability issues between the EA-6B and ground based communications jammers.

Electronics Science and Technology Division

Dr. Eric Snow and Dr. Keith Perkins, Electronic Materials Branch - for their important contributions to the science and technology of nanosensors. The nominees have developed a carbon nanotube-based (CNT) sensor platform capable of highly sensitive molecular detection. Such nanosensors are capable of detecting explosives, toxic-chemical and biological molecules. Their compact, low-power design is suitable for both portable detection systems and distributed sensor networks. Additionally, the general scientific and technological principles pioneered by the nominees serve as a roadmap for the development of a broad class of sensors currently under investigation by the nanoscience community. Thus, their contributions will benefit the Navy by providing the basis for the next generation of sensor technology.

Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering

Dr. Igor Medintz, Emerging Investigator, Laboratory for Biosensors & Biomaterials - for his leadership in biological and explosive sensing applications of nanoparticles known as quantum dots. His work has led to the development of nanoparticle-based sensing applications through the modification of quantum dots with switchable protein molecules. In 2007 this led to the demonstration of a reagentless biosensor for detection of explosives in seawater. This illustrates a rapid transition from basic research to an operational demonstration, and highlights the importance of nanocrystal particles in future biosensor development.

Marine Geosciences Division

Mr. Kevin Shaw, Dr. John Sample, Emerging Investigator, and Mr. Frank McCreedy, Emerging Investigator, Mapping, Charting and Geodesy Branch - for the successful development, testing and 2007 transition of the Geospatial Information Database (GIDB®) supporting Navy and other DoD activities world wide. Development of this technology has given the United States a capability never before available - that of accessing massive amounts of geospatial data from hundreds of servers distributed across the nation, but appearing as a single massive database. Additionally this fully government owned, patented and license free technology has yielded the Navy a technologically superior capability that can be rapidly deployed and easily integrated. As a result of the leadership and scientific and engineering expertise of these individuals, this technology has been fully developed and brought to bear on many of our nation's most challenging problems, e.g., terrorism and counter narcotics. The success of this effort not only demonstrates the scientific and engineering leadership of the Navy and the Department of Defense, but the outstanding leadership and esprit de corps of this development team as well.

Marine Meteorology Division

Dr. James D. Doyle, Atmospheric Dynamics and Prediction Branch - for his extensive publications on mountain wave meteorology and his leadership in the international Terrain-induced Rotor Experiment (T-Rex). Dr. Doyle published 10 papers in 2007 related to mountain wave meteorology that established new theories, confirmed existing theories, and validated numerical model experiments. Dr. Doyle was selected to be the T-Rex mission scientist and operations director based on his outstanding publication record. T-Rex was conducted to study the formation of rotors in the lee of mountains, phenomena that are a serious threat to military and civilian aircraft missions because of the extremely strong wind shears found in rotors. As the T-Rex mission scientist and operations director, Dr. Doyle planned daily events including aircraft missions and scheduling of personnel. He provided outstanding scientific insight and was also responsible for the application of numerical forecast guidance for T-Rex through the application of a multi-scale atmospheric prediction model, COAMPS. Dr. Doyle's outstanding performance demonstrated through his publications and leadership is regarded as highly meritorious and deserving of a Top Navy Scientists of the Year award for 2007.

Space Science Division

Dr. Christoph Englert, Emerging Investigator, Upper Atmospheric Physics Branch - for the first successful collection of measurements using the innovative Spatial Heterodyne Spectroscopy (SHS) technique from a satellite and for leading the development, launch and on-orbit performance of SHIMMER, the Spatial Heterodyne Imager for Mesospheric Radicals onboard the STPSat-1 satellite. Currently, SHIMMER data are playing an important role in validating the extension of the Navy's weather forecast system to high altitudes, up to near the edge of space (100 km). In addition, the success of this project validates the use of this radically new optical technique and opens up new vistas for space-based remote sensing and terrestrial stand-off detection.

In 2001, Dr. Englert assumed responsibility for the SHIMMER project at its inception. Although Dr. Englert was a new Federal employee; he assumed a level of responsibility and exerted a degree of leadership equal to senior scientists. Dr. Englert pulled together a team of senior engineers, overcame numerous technical challenges, managed a budget of over a million dollars, and represented NRL to its Air Force sponsors. In addition to his leadership skills, Dr. Englert has established his technical expertise by publishing several important papers on SHS technology, getting 3 patents approved by the NRL Invention Evaluation Board and being the PI of an NRL 6.2 project to apply SHS technology to terrestrial DoD needs. Dr. Englert has shown that he can be the vanguard of the next generation of experimental space scientists at NRL, continuing the Lab's tradition of being the DoD's technological cutting edge and at the forefront of the nation's space program.

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