AFRL’s version of Academy Awards to highlight present and past achievements
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – The Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, will honor 17 scientists and engineers for outstanding career accomplishments Oct. 12, 2022, from 2:30-4 p.m. at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force during the laboratory’s 2022 AFRL Fellows and Early Career Awards, or ECA, ceremony. This year’s celebration marks the first time in two years that the ceremony will be a full-scale, in-person event after the ceremony was scaled down due to elevated health protection levels.
The 2022 group includes nine Fellows and eight Science and Engineering ECA winners. AFRL’s Research Advisory Council, or RAC, 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 and concurred with the RAC’s findings, including their recommendation on the final selectees.
Pringle commended the winners’ achievements, praising the new Fellows and ECAs for their scientific and technical contributions to warfighters.
“I’m so proud of how our workforce advances meaningful science and technology for Airmen and Guardians,” Pringle said. “This year’s group of scientists and engineers is blazing a trail of excellence within the Department of the Air Force.”
AFRL historians Jeff Duford and Dr. Darren Raspa will host this year’s awards ceremony, highlighting the importance of learning from the past to ensure future success in innovation.
“We are excited to present extraordinary professionals and provide historical context in honor of the Air Force’s 75th anniversary,” Duford said. “This year’s event is about celebrating outstanding professionals who will surely be in the history books of tomorrow for the capabilities they deliver to warfighters.”
Raspa said the ceremony is the laboratory’s version of the Academy Awards.
“These scientists and engineers are the best of the best of AFRL — true research and development rock stars,” he said. “It’s truly extraordinary to talk about a little of our amazing history while sharing the stage with folks who are creating groundbreaking and historic developments.”
The AFRL Fellows program recognizes outstanding scientists and engineers, or S&Es, in three categories: research achievements, technology development and transition achievements, or program and organizational leadership. This year’s Fellows delivered contributions in a wide variety of areas, including aircraft inspection, materials characterization, spacecraft charging standards, digital engineering design tools, space-qualified optoelectronic devices, air vehicle design, quantum physics and noninvasive brain stimulation.
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 242 in the 35 years since the program started in 1987. Each new AFRL Fellow receives a $300,000 multiyear research grant along with a medallion and a place in a prominent display in the AFRL headquarters building.
“The No. 1 job of the lab is to grow thought leaders who will positively influence their S&T ecosystems, who will mentor current employees and be magnets for future talent, who make the AFRL brand well-respected and reputable to the larger community, and most importantly, who contribute to the future of DAF technology needs today and tomorrow,” said AFRL Chief Technology Officer Dr. Timothy Bunning. “This year’s fellows epitomize the outstanding minds of this S&T enterprise, and I am honored to work with them.”
The 2022 AFRL Fellows include:
- John Brausch, team lead in the materials integrity branch; Materials and Manufacturing Directorate; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
- Tamara Chelette, extramural research program manager; 711th Human Performance Wing, Airman Systems Directorate; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
- Dale Ferguson, principal physicist; Space Vehicles Directorate; Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
- Joe Mabry, principal scientist; Aerospace Systems Directorate; Edwards Air Force Base, California.
- Richard “Andy” McKinley, cognitive and physical performance core research area lead, 711th Human Performance Wing, Airman Systems Directorate; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
- David Mollenhauer, principal materials research engineer; Materials and Manufacturing Directorate; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
- Jason Parker, division chief engineer and senior electronics engineer; Systems Technology Office; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
- Gregory Reich, principal scientist, Aerospace Systems Directorate; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
- Ashwani Sharma, research electronics engineer; Space Vehicles Directorate; Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
The AFRL Science and Engineering ECA recognizes junior scientists and engineers for significant research or engineering achievements during the onset of their career. These individuals, who also receive a $300,000 multiyear research grant, have demonstrated exceptional in-house research contributions. The award is specifically for military/government scientists and engineers 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, 59 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,” Bunning said. “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:
- Stuart Benton, research aerospace engineer; Aerospace Systems Directorate; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
- Joel Bixler, research biomedical engineer and principal investigator; 711th Human Performance Wing, Airman Systems Directorate; Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
- Daniel Dault, technical lead; Sensors Directorate; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
- Sean Donegan, digital manufacturing research lead; Materials and Manufacturing Directorate; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
- Nicholas Glavin, senior materials engineer; Materials and Manufacturing Directorate; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
- Candice Hatcher-Solis, research biological scientist, 711th Human Performance Wing, Airman Systems Directorate; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
- Sean McDaniel, senior physicist, Systems Technology Office; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
- Andrew Metcalf, space mission area lead; Space Vehicles Directorate; Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
The Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit www.afresearchlab.com.