AFRL employees receive Fellow and Early Career Award recognition

  • Published
  • By Donna Lindner
  • Air Force Research Laboratory

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The AFRL Fellows program recognizes outstanding scientists and engineers in research achievements, technology development and transition achievements, or program and organizational leadership. Individuals selected for this honor represent the top 0.3 percent of AFRL's professional technical staff and join an elite professional cadre.

The Materials and Manufacturing Directorate recently announced that Dr. Benji Maruyama and Dr. John Russell were named AFRL Fellows for 2019.

Dr. Benji Maruyama is nominated in the research achievement category. He is a Principal Materials Research Engineer and Leader of the Flexible Materials and Processes Research Team in the Functional Materials Division.

Maruyama is the creator of an Autonomous Research System, the first autonomous robot for materials research. His focus area is on the synthesis and processing science of carbon nanotubes. He is the subject matter expert for all carbon materials for the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate and beyond and also leads in-house activities focused on synthesis and applications of carbon nanotubes.

This award will be added to Maruyama’s many accomplishments, which include over 3,600 citations, 180 peer-reviewed publications, numerous keynote speaker addresses and awards recognizing research excellence.

“I am truly honored to receive this award,” said Maruyama. “So much credit goes to my colleagues for helping to make this happen.”

Dr. John Russell is nominated in the program and organizational leadership category. He is the Chief Engineer of the Manufacturing and Industrial Technologies Division. In this role, he leads the division’s engagement with the Air Force Lifecycle Management Center to identify critical manufacturing needs. In addition, he has strategic oversight of the division’s investment in manufacturing needs for future high speed weapons. Finally, he leads strategy development to maximize the Air Force’s value from the Manufacturing USA institutes.

Dr. Russell is a leading expert in composite materials. Through the Composites Affordability Initiative, the Department of Defense’s largest program on composites, he led a joint service and industry team of over 400 people to develop, design and manufacturing methods that enabled the use of large integrated and bonded structures for military aircraft. In addition, as the manufacturing lead for the X-55A Advanced Composite Cargo Aircraft, he transitioned lessons learned from CAI into a flying demonstration of large integrated and bonded structures. These efforts have fundamentally changed how military aircraft are being built today.

Russell has many levels of awards and recognition including SME Fellow, SAMPE Fellow, Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence, and the AFRL Commander’s Cup.

"I’m very excited to be named an AFRL Fellow,” said Russell. “It’s humbling to know that I’m the first person who spent the majority of their career in the Manufacturing Technology Division to be awarded this honor. I know that you don’t get such recognition without help. I’d like to thank all my mentors and peers for the support they’ve given me throughout my career."

In addition to recognition, each new AFRL Fellow receives a $300,000 research grant over two years to further their chosen research. The 13 Fellows selected this year bring the total number of AFRL Fellows awarded since 1987 to 212.

The AFRL Scientist and Engineer Early Career Award recognizes the most deserving scientists and engineers for significant research or engineering achievements during the on-set of their career. Candidates have demonstrated exceptional in-house research contributions.

Dr. Michael McConney is a Research Engineer in the Photonic Materials Branch of the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate. Since joining AFRL in 2014, McConney has worked on impactful research in several fields including microwave magnetic materials and color-changing photonic materials. His research in photonics has pushed the state-of-the-art, including demonstrating the first continuous-wave cholesteric liquid crystal laser.

McConney’s willingness to tackle scientific challenges rapidly moved the state-of-the-art in frequency, agile photonics and microwave electronics. He continues to guide the scientific community by being an impactful researcher, amassing over 50 peer-reviewed articles and 10 cover articles with more than 2400 citations.

“AFRL is an excellent place to work and this award is a testament to the great people that I am surrounded by,” said McConney. “I am privileged to receive this award.”

The ECA is an opportunity to reward in-house accomplishments by providing each awardee a three-year, $300K grant to be applied to their in-house programs.

“This is the third year that I have had the honor of making the final selections for both awards and each year I’m blown away by the accomplishments of all of the nominees,” said Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley, AFRL Commander. “I am in awe of the astounding impact their efforts have had on the Air Force.”

The recipients will be recognized at a banquet to mark this significant accomplishment in their career on the evening of November 13, 2019 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit: