Dr. JihFen Lei is the Deputy Director for Research, Technology and Laboratories in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering at the Pentagon. She is responsible for championing the Department of Defense (DOD) Science and Technology (S&T) Enterprise, establishing and implementing the S&T strategic vision and DOD imperatives by identifying strategic investment areas and influencing the DOD-wide S&T Strategy and Planning Guidance across the Department’s laboratories. Dr. Lei provides oversight over the S&T workforce and laboratory infrastructure policy including for Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) and University-Affiliated Research Center (UARC’s), leading to strengthen U.S. technological superiority with world class defense laboratories, workforce and technologies. She also oversees a broad portfolio of S&T programs including the Basic Research program, Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) and Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) program/portfolios.
Prior to her current appointment in 2019, Dr. Lei served as the Vice President and General Manager of Teledyne Judson Technologies, a business unit of Teledyne Technologies Inc., holding overall Profit & Loss (P&L) responsibilities. Prior to joining Teledyne in 2015, Dr. Lei was the Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) John H. Glenn Research Center and Technology Directorate at Lewis Field Cleveland, Ohio. She was responsible for overseeing overall research and advanced Technology development portfolio (propulsion, power, communication, instrumentation & controls, physical and biological science, and material and structures). She became a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) in 2003; and served within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, NASA Headquarters and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. She was a senior researcher with the Army Research Laboratory and NASA Glenn.
Dr. Lei earned her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Northwestern University. She is a graduate of the Leadership and Public Policy Programs from Harvard, Stanford and Bookings. Dr. Lei has published over 100 technical publications and is patented in her field. Her pioneer research and innovation won her three prestigious R&D 100 Awards, the Army Research Laboratory Honorary Medal for Technical Achievement, NASA Turning Goals into Relativity Awards, and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)/ The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Best paper award. Her leadership and public service also were widely recognized, including the Presidential Rank Medal of Meritorious Senior Executive, the NASA Public Service Honor Medal and NASA Equal Employment Opportunity Honor Medal. She was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame.