10 take home Academy research awards

Left to right: Dr. Mica Endsley, Cadet 1st Class Zachary Decker, Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, and Brig. Gen. Andrew Armacost pose at the 2014 USAFA Research Awards ceremony here Jan. 31. Decker won the Thomas D. Moore Award for Oustanding Summer Research. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Sam Lee)

Left to right: Dr. Mica Endsley, Cadet 1st Class David Jorgenson, Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, and Brig. Gen. Andrew Armacost pose at the 2014 USAFA Research Awards ceremony here Jan. 31. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Sam Lee)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Air Force's chief scientist handed out the U.S. Air Force Academy's top research awards to exemplary cadets and faculty during the 2014 USAFA Research Awards here Jan. 31.

Dr. Mica Endsley, Air Force chief scientist, touted the Academy's dedication to continuing innovation during her keynote speech before presenting four cadets and six Academy faculty members with top research honors.

"You all have the innovative spirit," Endsley said. "You understand the importance of asking those hard questions and encouraging the cadets to ask those hard questions too."

The research department has seen the fruits of that innovation. In the last 15 years, the Academy's research program has grown from six research centers with less than $10 million in funding to 19 research centers and two research institutes with a research enterprise valued at more than $60 million. For the seventh consecutive year, the Academy was named the nation's No. 1 federally funded undergraduate research program.

Endsley spent two days before the awards meeting with Academy researchers visiting the different research centers here.

"You really have brought together a lot of the central tenants of supporting innovation," Endsley said. "You encourage people to ask tough questions and look for problems and then search for solutions."

Endsley said that every experiment that doesn't work tells researchers more about the problem.

"We need to encourage the cadets to keep the culture of innovation," he said.

One cadet from each research division was awarded the Thomas D. Moore Award for Outstanding Cadet Summer Research with one cadet chosen as the overall winner throughout all divisions. Though research varied from nonlinear response materials for radiation detection at the Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, NM, to extensive research on personnel involved in a high-profile foreign cyber-espionage group of interest at the National Security Agency's Central Security Service Threat Operations Center in Augusta, Ga.

It was the summer research of Cadet 1st Class Zachary Decker, the engineering division winner, which took overall honors. Decker worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Space Systems Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The results from his research will allow the fluid dynamics of liquid fuels on satellites to be tested and analyzed to improve space satellite control.

"When they [the other cadet winners] had their excerpts of their research read, all I could think was 'Wow! How incredible was that?'" he said. "Half of what they did, I can't personally understand. They are experts in their field. I think it's incredible that the Air Force Academy provides us with these opportunities. Honestly, what I have accomplished today is really just a reflection of all the support that's been giving to me by everyone here at this institution, at MIT, my family and my friends."

Other awards presented were the Martinson Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award, the Major General Robert E. Linhard Outstanding Research Award, the Frank J. Seiler Award for Research Excellence, the Robert F. McDermott Award for Research Excellence in the Humanities and in the Social Sciences and the 2013 Air Force Science and Engineering Outstanding Educator Award.

List of Awardees

Thomas D. Moore Award for Outstanding Cadet Summer Research
Cadet 1st Class John Hudgins: Basic Sciences Division Winner
Cadet 1st Class David Jorgenson: Humanities Division Winner
Cadet 1st Class Derek Randall: Social Sciences Division Winner
Cadet 1st Class Zachary Decker: Engineering Division Winner and overall winner

Martinson Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award
Maj. Nathan B. Terry, Department of Physics

Major General Robert E. Linhard Outstanding Research Award
Dr. Paul J. Bolt, Department of Political Science
Frank J. Seiler Award for Research Excellence
Dr. Thomas McLaughlin, Department of Aeronautics: Engineering Winner
Dr. Timm Knoerzer, Department of Chemistry: Basic Science Winner

Robert F. McDermott Award for Research Excellence
Dr. Ismenia Sales de Souza, Department of Foreign Languages: Humanities
Lt. Col. Douglas Lindsay, Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership: Social Sciences

Air Force Outstanding Science and Engineering Educator of the Year
Dr. Timm Knoerzer, Department of Chemistry