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Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers honors AFRL researchers


The Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers holds an annual awards banquet to celebrate the successes of SASE members who enhance the scientific and engineering professions through contributions to the global business world, academia and local communities.

This year, the Air Force Research Laboratory has two award winners.

Dr. Khanh Pham from the Space Vehicles Directorate located at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, won the Leadership Award in the Engineer/Scientist of the Year (Government category).

Nominees for this award must be currently working in an engineering or scientific field in the public sector (inclusive of academia and the nonprofit sector). They must have made significant and measureable contributions to their field and demonstrate consistent dedication and commitment to the growth and advancement in the field of engineering and science.

They must also demonstrate an active leadership role within their organization and show commitment to their community including how he/she mentors others and/or supports aspiring individuals pursuing or developing in the STEM field.

Pham is involved in multi-faceted technical activities in support of the nation’s defense, particularly in the fields of space control, space situational awareness and military satellite communication applications.

He forged major research initiatives with the Defense Department, academia and industry partnerships across the DOD space enterprise. He is a fellow of the Society of Photo-Optical and Instrumentation Engineers, an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Pham published 29 journal articles, 26 chapters in books and more than 220 conference proceedings. In addition, he is the sole author of two published seminal research monographs, and an inventor of 10 U.S. patents with 10 U.S. patent disclosures underway. More recently, he received the 2018 Small Business Technology Council Champion of Small Business Commercialization Award.

“My career with the AFRL has been very productive and rewarding,” said Pham. “AFRL gives me autonomy to define how I can best contribute to the Air Force mission as well as providing intellectual stimulations and the opportunity to be on the forefront of space research and development.”

“This award is a symbolic reminder that in order to succeed in life, each of us ought to take on the ever enduring challenge – overcoming personal limitations, collaborating with others across boundaries and giving back to the communities,” Pham said.

Command chief calls for focus on commonalities, shared experiences

Dr. Dhriti Nepal of the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is the recipient of the Achievement Award in the Promising Professional category.

The Achievement Award highlights top-level talent within organizations. Individuals are nominated based on the criteria that they meet or exceed one of five categories: uniqueness of contributions to the organization, leadership abilities and initiative, professional and/or technical achievements, potential for advancement and social and/or economic value of the development.

The nominee must be a professional, in the early years (approximately two to 10 years in the workforce) of his or her career.

Nepal has mentored more than 30 junior scientists, students and visiting faculty. She also has numerous collaborations with universities and industry partners.

In addition to these accomplishments, Nepal has 12 international patents and 35 publications in high-impact journals such as “Composites Science and Technology, Polymer and Chemistry of Materials.” She is also an adjunct professor at Wright State University and Miami University in Ohio.

Nepal’s research team has recently received awards in major international conferences such as Materials Research Society and American Chemical Society.

“I am thrilled and honored to receive this award,” said Nepal. “This award is the result of our team effort, and incredible support from our chain of command, an extraordinary Materials and Manufacturing Directorate culture. This culture motivates us every day to achieve a bigger goal and do great things for the Air Force!”

SASE’s mission is to prepare Asian heritage scientists, engineers and technologists for success in the global business world, to celebrate diversity on campuses and in the workplace and to provide opportunities for members to make contributions to their local communities. SASE strives to honor the contributions of sponsors, as well as to celebrate the successes of SASE members and individuals who enhance the scientific and engineering professions through contributions to the global business world, academia and local communities.

Recipients are recognized and presented with an engraved award during the 2018 SASE National Conference and STEM Career Fair Gala Dinner in October.

Recipients will also be featured in the 2018 SASE National Conference magazine as well as showcased on SASE’s website and social media.




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