February ceremony honored recipients of 2016 MIT Lincoln Laboratory Technical Excellence Awards
Even though the day before had seen a foot of snow carpet the region, on 10 February, the Lincoln Laboratory auditorium was filled with the families and colleagues of the recipients of several technical awards presented annually by the Laboratory. Four individuals and three teams were recognized for their outstanding contributions to the Laboratory's technology development efforts and to their respective disciplines.
MIT Lincoln Laboratory Technical Excellence Awards
The Laboratory's most prestigious award, the Technical Excellence Award, recognizes individuals for "exceptional, sustained, technical work that has made a significant impact on a Laboratory mission area." For 2016, Dr. Douglas A. Reynolds, Senior Staff in the Human Language Technology Group, and Dr. Daniel J. Ripin, Leader of the Laser Technology and Applications Group, were honored with this award.
Reynolds was recognized for "outstanding, original, and sustained technical contributions in automatic speaker recognition, and for his internationally recognized leadership in the application of human language technology to challenging information-extraction problems." Reynolds joined Lincoln Laboratory in 1992 and continued refining his doctoral research on using Gaussian mixture models (GMMs) for automatically recognizing speakers, languages, and dialects from speech. "Doug was the first to apply GMMs to speaker recognition," said Marc Zissman, Associate Head of the Cyber Security and Information Sciences Division, who introduced Reynolds to the audience. These GMM recognition techniques have become the standard used in many industry and government systems and form the basis of modern subspace "i-vector" algorithms.
Zissman concluded with the statement that Reynolds has "a truly outstanding record of development, assessment, publication, and deployment [of speech systems]," and his work has had "an incredible national security impact." Reynolds, who has authored or coauthored more than 100 publications, collaborated on the article "Speaker Verification Using Adapted Gaussian Mixture Models," which has been cited over 4200 times by other researchers.
Currently, Reynolds provides technical oversight of programs in speaker and language recognition and speech-content-based information retrieval. He and his group focus on research, development, evaluation, and transfer of human language technology to address needs within the U.S. intelligence, law-enforcement, and defense communities. "I feel extremely fortunate for the backing of mentors and leadership and the invaluable assistance from colleagues," said Reynolds in accepting the award.
Ripin was honored for "his strong technical contributions to the development and demonstration of critical laser technology, and for sustained leadership and innovation in building the nation’s foremost high-energy laser technology development enterprise." Under Ripin's leadership, Lincoln Laboratory is innovating in all aspects of laser systems—power and thermal engineering, beam control, laser effects, and systems analysis. "He [Ripin] and his team have placed the Lab at the forefront of the whole high-energy laser area," said Robert Atkins, Head of the Advanced Technology Division, who outlined Ripin's career at the Laboratory. Ripin, who thanked colleagues for helping his group achieve this success, said, "I consider myself incredibly lucky to work here at Lincoln Laboratory, especially because of the exceptional people."
Currently, Ripin directs the development of advanced laser technology, optical sensing technology, and high-energy lasers small enough to field on a variety of platforms. He also oversees his group's research and development of pulsed lasers for remote sensing, blue-green lasers for undersea sensing and communications, quantum cascade lasers for infrared spectroscopy, and advanced semiconductor lasers. He has coauthored more than 25 peer-reviewed papers, been awarded multiple patents, and chaired (2009–2011) the solid-state laser subcommittee for the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics.
"No matter what challenges Dan steps up to next, he's sure to bring [a] blend of deep technical understanding of system and architectural perspective and of [the] significance of scale prototyping, which has allowed him to lead the Lab's HEL [high-energy laser] enterprise to a success that, I think, has not previously been seen nationwide," said Atkins.
Early Career Technical Achievement Awards
The Early Career Technical Achievement Awards were established in 2010 to recognize significant technical contributions by individuals under the age of 35. In 2016, the awards were presented to technical staff members Dr. Emily E. Fenn of the Tactical Defense Systems Group and Dr. Vijay N. Gadepally of the Lincoln Laboratory Supercomputing Center.
Fenn was introduced as "a national expert in helping the Air Force decide what type of acquisition decisions to make about countermeasures and future aircraft" by Marc Viera, Assistant Head of the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance and Tactical Systems Division. Fenn was recognized for "her significant technical contributions to the field of air vehicle survivability, and for her expert analysis of infrared systems in support of research programs at national laboratories and studies for the U.S. Air Force Red Team."
Gadepally was recognized for"“his outstanding technical leadership, productivity, and creativity in advancing high performance computing at Lincoln Laboratory and throughout the academic computing community, and for significant efforts in support of the Lincoln Laboratory Supercomputing Center." David Martinez, Associate Head of the Cyber Security and Information Sciences Division, outlined Gadepally's foundational contributions to database management and algorithm development for graph processing, and noted that Gadepally and the Supercomputing Center team have the record of the largest number of data words input per second as a function of the number of computer cores.
Best Paper Award
The MIT Lincoln Laboratory Best Paper Award annually recognizes an outstanding paper published by Laboratory researchers in either a peer-reviewed journal or peer-selected conference publication. For 2016, Dr. Jakub T. Kedzierski, Kevin Meng, Prof. Todd A. Thorsen, Dr. Rafmag Cabrera, and Dr. Shaun R. Berry received the award for the paper "Microhydraulic Electrowetting Actuators," which was published in the April 2016 volume of the Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems.
This paper presents an analysis of and experimental measurements on a millimeter-scale microhydraulic actuator. The work described in the paper demonstrated the conversion of electrical energy to mechanical micro-motion with 68% efficiency and opens up new opportunities in microrobotics, energy harvesting, and autonomy.
Best Invention Award
The Best Invention Award is presented to Lincoln Laboratory researchers who have developed a new device, method, or process. Typically, winning inventions have been ones for which a technology disclosure, patent application, or patent license has been filed. For 2016, two teams were awarded trophies for their inventions.
Dr. Suraj Bramhavar and Dr. Paul W. Juodawlkis developed the Photonic Integrated Resonant Accelerometer, for which a patent was filed on 29 May 2015. This new approach to accelerometers relies on measuring the vibrations of a millimeter-sized pendulum by using integrated photonic strain sensors embedded alongside the mechanical element. Simulations of the proposed device predict a tenfold improvement in sensitivity and a one-hundredfold improvement in dynamic range over current state-of-the-art chip-scale accelerometers.
Dr. Jude A. Kelley, Dr. Richard P. Kingsborough, Dr. Roderick R. Kunz, and Alla Ostrinskaya received their award for the invention of the Substrate Containing Latent Vaporization Reagents, for which patents were filed on 6 April 2015 and 26 August 2016. This new type of swab material has been shown to dramatically increase the detectability of inorganic oxidizer salts, such as chlorates and perchlorates, that are used in many improvised explosive devices. This work has focused on the performance of these swabs in commercial explosive-trace-detection systems.