U.S. Air Force Academy celebrates research achievements at annual awards ceremony

  • Published
  • By Ray Bowden
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – A new award was unveiled at the annual Dean’s Research Awards Ceremony, and the Air Force’s top research officer encouraged cadets to never give up their fight for innovation April 8.

The annual ceremony heralds the school’s research programs spanning the academic majors, including engineering, humanities, science and social sciences.

Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle, commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio and the ceremony’s guest speaker, said the schools scientific endeavors advances the capabilities of the Air Force, Space Force and Defense Department.

“You’re searching for truth. You let the data drive you,” she said to the audience of cadets, faculty and staff in Arnold Hall. “You’re dedicated to something bigger than yourselves and you love the challenge.”

Brig. Gen. Linell Letendre, the Academy’s dean, hosted the event, saying despite two years of challenges the coronavirus created for the Defense Department, the pandemic didn’t keep Academy researchers from thriving.

“Our research got even better because of COVID. This year, it’s nice to see people in person,” she said laughing and referring to last year’s ceremony, livestreamed due to the pandemic.

New Award
The Academy’s Center for Space Situational Awareness Team took home the new Dean of the Faculty Award for the Research Team of the Year for its efforts supporting the school’s research projects.

“The Center for Space Situational Awareness is a team comprised of military faculty, civilian faculty, and cadets using advanced techniques and imagery to characterize satellites based on their unresolved space object signatures,” said Col. Christopher McClernon, the school’s associate dean for research.

The new award is the result of feedback from cadets, faculty and staff who petitioned to recognize the total force research efforts occurring daily at the Academy.

“As Brig. Gen. Letendre said, ‘It takes a village to keep the research engine at the Academy running,’” he said. “This award recognizes the team concept behind the research work we do here every day.”

Award Winners

Robert F. McDermott Award

  • Research excellence in the humanities award: Assistant Prof. Christopher D’Lauro, behavioral sciences and leadership department
  • Research excellence in the social sciences award: Assistant Prof. Nicholas Kupensky, foreign languages department
  • Immediate impact in research award: Assistant prof. Maj. Daniel O’Keefe, physics and meteorology department
  • Research excellence in technology transfer award: Cadet 1st Class Grant Schlichting

Martinson Award – Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

  • Matthew Johnson, deputy associate dean for the Academy’s Center of Educational Innovation, and the Mathematical Sciences Department team

Frank J. Seiler Award

  • Research excellence in the basic sciences award: Associate Prof. Abby Jennings, chemistry department
  • Research excellence in engineering: Associate Prof. Joel Coffman, computer and cyber sciences department, and Capt. Connor Wiese, aeronautics department instructor

2021 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Award – Cadet Research

  • FalconSAT-X Assembly, Integration and Test team

Thomas D. Moore Award for Outstanding Cadet Summer Research

  • Social science division award: Cadet 1st Class Thomas Kyle
  • Basic science division award: Cadet 1st Class Nathan Scheidt
  • Humanities division award: Cadet 1st Class Corey Eisert-Wlodarczyk 
  • Engineering division award and overall award: Cadet 1st Class Matthew Kim

Dean of the Faculty Award for Outstanding Cadet Research

  • Individual category award: Cadet 2nd Class James Landy
  • Team category award: Cadets 1st Class Grant Schlichting and Jarrett Van Dyke

Visit www.usafa.edu/research/awards for more information.