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Science, Math Scholars Recognized for National Security Contributions

Feb. 23, 2022 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

A major priority for the Defense Department is to build and fortify its technology foundation, Barbara McQuiston, the director of defense research and engineering for research and technology said.

An important part of that effort is the DOD Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation, known as the SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program, she said.

The SMART program provides scholarships to civilian students who are pursuing a degree in STEM disciplines that are critical to national security. Scholars then serve a period of obligated employment as a DOD civilian scientist or engineer upon graduation.

Information on how to apply can be found is on the website.

Moons orbit a planet.
Jupiter and Moons
Montage of Jupiter and some of its moons, taken from the Voyager spacecraft.
Photo By: NASA
VIRIN: 780223-O-D0439-001C

On Feb. 23, McQuiston recognized the 2021 SMART Scholars and Mentors of the Year in a virtual ceremony. These prestigious awards recognize SMART scholar and mentor pairs who demonstrate exemplary achievements during the pursuit of their SMART-sponsored degree, during their DOD employment commitment, or as a seasoned DOD science and technology professional post-service commitment.

"Each of you has made a significant impact on the Department of Defense by providing direct and meaningful research that supports the mission of your facilities. These achievements have been amplified through the mentors who help to exemplify the vision of the SMART Program to create a highly-skilled STEM workforce that competes with dynamic trends in technology and innovation to protect national security," McQuiston told the awardees.

"Each of you has helped pave the way to achieve groundbreaking work that helps solve some of the most complex problems we face as a nation. You were chosen by a select group of science and technology panelists for the excellence and innovation of your research, which will lead to capabilities that keep our military and nation safe," she added.

McQuiston said watching the Apollo moon landing as a youngster inspired her. "I could only dream that someday I would be able to be part of this human adventure."

McQuiston volunteered for many activities such as science camps and fairs. She eventually got the opportunity to intern at NASA Ames Research Center with the planetary encounter programs.

"Although my contributions amounted to small tests, supporting the planetary scientists and physicists, I was fortunate to be part of the adventure and meet amazing scientists like Dr. [James] Van Allen and others, and work with the team and watch the live feed of images coming back to Earth while discovering things like the 14th moon of Jupiter," she said.

At the DOD, McQuiston said she's still continuously learning and working to support national security in areas such as quantum science, biotechnology, energy and advanced materials.

"Now you are a part of our future success. I'm grateful to be here with you and with the community of scientists who are constantly performing research that can inspire and find solutions to our difficult challenges," she said.

"The future success and security of the nation are in the hands of innovators, mentors and leaders like you. Your groundbreaking work has brought us closer to solutions to some of the most complex problems we face as a nation," she said.

The 2021 SMART Scholars and Mentors of the Year winners are:

  • Mr. Khaldoon Ishmael and Dr. Richard Ordonez, Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific
    A portrait photo shows a man.
    Khaldoon Ishmael
    Khaldoon Ishmael
    Photo By: DOD
    VIRIN: 220223-O-D0439-001C
    A portrait photo shows a man.
    Richard Ordonez
    Richard Ordonez
    Photo By: DOD
    VIRIN: 220223-O-D0439-002C
  • Dr. Regina Guazzo and Dr. Tyler Helble, Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific
    A portrait photo shows a woman.
    Regina Guazzo
    Regina Guazzo
    Photo By: DOD
    VIRIN: 220223-O-D0439-003C
    A portrait photo shows a man.
    Tyler Helble
    Tyler Helble
    Photo By: DOD
    VIRIN: 220223-O-D0439-004C
  • Dr. David Illig and Dr. Linda Mullen, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division
    A portrait photo shows a man.
    David Illig
    David Illig
    Photo By: DOD
    VIRIN: 220223-O-D0439-005C
    A portrait photo shows a woman.
    Linda Mullen
    Linda Mullen
    Photo By: DOD
    VIRIN: 220223-O-D0439-006C

You can read more about the awardees here.