2021 AFRL Fellows and Early Career Award Winners

The Air Force Research Laboratory honored 17 scientists and engineers Oct. 25, 2021 for outstanding career accomplishments during the laboratory’s 2021 virtual Fellows and Science and Engineering Early Career Awards ceremony. This year’s celebration marked the second time the event has gone virtual due to the coronavirus.

The 2021 group includes 10 Fellows and seven Science and Engineering Early Career Award winners. AFRL’s Research Advisory Council, led by the chief technology officer and the chief scientists, reviewed the submission packages and ranked the nominees. AFRL Commander Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle subsequently reviewed the RAC’s findings and made the final selections.

Pringle described the selection process this year as intense noting that the nominees included many outstanding individuals from across the lab. She commended the winners’ achievements emphasizing their “ingenuity and insight in their respective fields.” Pringle also praised the new Fellows for their scientific and technical contributions to warfighters which are helping the Department of the Air Force address strategic competition.

The AFRL Fellows program recognizes outstanding scientists and engineers in three categories: research achievements, technology development and transition achievements, or program and organizational leadership. This year’s Fellows delivered significant contributions to the DAF in a wide variety of technical areas with technological advancements and transition achievements addressing weapon seeker technologies, automatic target acquisition and recognition, alternative precision navigation and hypersonic weapons.

The 2021 group of S&Es led research achievements in refractory ceramics and ceramic matrix composites for aerospace applications, laser sources and active protection of sensors using photorefractives, high power microwave and millimeter-wave technologies for weapons applications, trust and human-autonomy teaming, space plasma disturbances and global ionospheric processes.

The fellows honored for program and organizational leadership guided key efforts addressing exploitation and space situational awareness, machine learning in national systems, layered sensing, foliage penetration radar and 3D data exploitation.

The men and women selected as fellows join an elite group that represents 0.3% of this year’s AFRL professional technical staff. This brings the total number of AFRL Fellow recipients to 233 in the 34 years since the program started in 1987. Each new AFRL Fellow receives a $300,000 research grant along with a medallion and a place in the prominent display in the AFRL headquarters building.

“The number one job of the lab is to grow thought leaders who will positively influence their S&T ecosystem, who will be a magnet and mentor for future talent, to be a shining AFRL brand to the larger community, to contribute to the future of today’s and tomorrow’s Airmen and Guardians,” said AFRL Chief Technology Officer Dr. Timothy Bunning. “This year’s fellow class epitomize the fleek outstanding minds of this S&T enterprise,” he said.

The 2021 AFRL fellows include:

  • Mr. Anthony Cain, principal electronics engineer, Functional Materials Division, Materials & Manufacturing Directorate;
  • Dr. Michael Cinibulk, principal materials research engineer/research leader, Structural Materials Division, Materials & Manufacturing Directorate;
  • Dr. Gary Cook, technical lead, laser sources, Electro-Optics/Infrared Components Branch, Sensors Directorate;
  • Dr. Brad Hoff, senior scientist, High Power Electromagnetics Division, Directed Energy Directorate;
  • Dr. Timothy J. “T.J.” Klausutis, seeker sciences core technical competency lead, Weapon Engagement Division, Munitions Directorate;
  • Dr. Joseph Lyons, principal research psychologist, Adaptive Warfighter Interfaces Division, 711th Human Performance Wing;
  • Dr. Evgeny Mishin, senior research physicist, Geospace Technologies Division, Space Vehicles Directorate;
  • Dr. Todd Pedersen, principal investigator for the PRECISE flight experiment, Battlespace Environment Division, Space Vehicles Directorate;
  • Ms. Carolyn Sheaff, program manager, Information and Intelligence System Analysis Division, Information Directorate;
  • Ms. Lori Westerkamp, senior advisor, Multi-Domain Sensing Autonomy Division, Sensors Directorate.
image of fellows winners

The Air Force Research Laboratory Fellows program recognizes outstanding scientists and engineers in three categories: research achievements, technology development and transition achievements, or program and organizational leadership. The 2021 AFRL Fellows are (from left to right, top to bottom): Mr. Anthony Cain, Dr. Michael Cinibulk, Dr. Gary Cook, Dr. Brad Hoff, Dr. Timothy J. “T.J.” Klausutis, Dr. Joseph Lyons, Dr. Evgeny Mishin, Dr. Todd Pedersen, Ms. Carolyn Sheaff and Ms. Lori Westerkamp. (Courtesy photos/U.S. Air Force)

The AFRL Science and Engineering ECA recognizes junior scientists and engineers for significant research or engineering achievements during the on-set of their career. These individuals, who also receive a $300,000 grant, have demonstrated exceptional in-house research contributions. The award is specifically for military/government S&Es who are in the first seven years of their careers with no more than 15 years since the award of their bachelor’s degree. Since its inception in 2012, 51 individuals have received this honor.

“These young scientists and engineers are working at the forefront of science and technology for the Department of the Air Force,” said Bunning. ”We proudly salute their excellence and await their many future scientific achievements while applauding their local teams and those who have mentored them along the way.”

The Early Career Award winners include:

  • Dr. J. Daniel Berrigan, digital manufacturing research team lead, Materials and Manufacturing Directorate;
  • Dr. Philip Buskohl, research materials engineer, Materials and Manufacturing Directorate;
  • Dr. Christopher Petersen, research aerospace engineer, Space Vehicles Directorate;
  • Dr. Gretchen Phelps, research physicist, Space Vehicles Directorate;
  • Dr. Casey Pirnstill, senior research biomedical engineer, Airman Systems Directorate, 711th Human Performance Wing;
  • Dr. Michael Steinbock, principal investigator, Directed Energy Directorate;
  • Dr. Alan Wall, research physicist, Airman Systems Directorate, 711th Human Performance Wing.
image of early career awards

The winners of the 2021 Air Force Research Laboratory Early Career Awards are Dr. J. Daniel Berrigan, Dr. Philip Buskohl, Dr. Christopher Petersen, Dr. Gretchen Phelps, Dr. Casey Pirnstill, Dr. Michael Steinbock and Dr. Alan Wall. (Courtesy photos/U.S. Air Force)

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