AFRL prepares to recognize its top scientists

Wright-Patterson-based AFRL will honor 17 at Air Force Museum

Air Force Research Laboratory calls the event its version of the “Academy Awards,” and it’s happening next Wednesday at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

AFRL will honor 17 scientists and engineers from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Oct. 12 at the museum during the laboratory’s 2022 AFRL Fellows and Early Career Awards, or ECA, ceremony.

This year’s celebration marks the first time that the ceremony will be held in person since the COVID-19 pandemic began, AFRL said.

The 2022 group includes nine Fellows and eight science and engineering ECA winners.

Each new Fellow receives a $300,000 multiyear research grant along with a medallion and a place in a display in the AFRL headquarters building on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

AFRL’s Research Advisory Council, or RAC, reviewed the submission packages and ranked the nominees, the laboratory said. AFRL Commander Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle reviewed the group’s findings

“I’m so proud of how our workforce advances meaningful science and technology for Airmen and Guardians,” Pringle said in a statement. “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 Darren Raspa will host the event.

“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 likened the event to 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.”

AFRL said the Fellows represent 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,” the lab said in a release.

The 2022 Fellows include:

  • John Brausch, team lead in the materials integrity branch; Materials and Manufacturing Directorate; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
  • Tamara Chelette, extramural research program manager; 711th Human Performance Wing, Airman Systems Directorate; Wright-Patterson.
  • 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.
  • David Mollenhauer, principal materials research engineer; Materials and Manufacturing Directorate; Wright-Patterson.
  • Jason Parker, division chief engineer and senior electronics engineer; Systems Technology Office; Wright-Patterson.
  • Gregory Reich, principal scientist, Aerospace Systems Directorate; Wright-Patterson.
  • Ashwani Sharma, research electronics engineer; Space Vehicles Directorate; Kirtland.

The AFRL Science and Engineering ECA recognizes junior scientists and engineers at the onset of their career. 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 have received this honor.

The Early Career Award winners include:

  • Stuart Benton, research aerospace engineer; Aerospace Systems Directorate; Wright-Patterson.
  • 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.
  • Sean Donegan, digital manufacturing research lead; Materials and Manufacturing Directorate; Wright-Patterson.
  • Nicholas Glavin, senior materials engineer; Materials and Manufacturing Directorate; Wright-Patterson.
  • Candice Hatcher-Solis, research biological scientist, 711th Human Performance Wing, Airman Systems Directorate; Wright-Patterson.
  • Sean McDaniel, senior physicist, Systems Technology Office; Wright-Patterson.
  • Andrew Metcalf, space mission area lead; Space Vehicles Directorate; Kirtland.

About the Author