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    SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program Announces Scholar and Mentor of the Year Awards

    SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program Announces Scholar and Mentor of the Year Awards

    Courtesy Photo | The DoD SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program recently announced Mr. Khaldoon Ishmael...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    SMART Scholarship Program

    The Department of Defense (DoD) Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship-for-Service Program recently announced Mr. Khaldoon Ishmael and Dr. Richard Ordonez (Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific), Dr. Regina Guazzo and Dr. Tyler Helble (NIWC Pacific), and Dr. David Illig and Dr. Linda Mullen from the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) as the winners of the SMART Scholar and Mentor of the Year Award for FY 21.

    These prestigious awards recognize SMART scholar and mentor pairs who demonstrate exemplary achievements during the pursuit of their SMART-sponsored degree (Phase 1), during their DoD employment commitment (Phase 2), or as a seasoned DoD science and technology professional post-service commitment (Phase 3). Nominations for the award were reviewed by a panel of technical experts from across the DoD and recognizes both the outstanding achievements of the scholar, as well as the valuable guidance provided by their DoD mentor at a SMART sponsoring facility.

    SMART is a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) focused scholarship for service program and the largest education and workforce initiatives under DoD STEM - the Department’s comprehensive K-20 STEM education and talent development effort. SMART sponsors undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral study in 21 academic disciplines critical to national security and DoD’s future by providing full tuition, a generous stipend, summer internships, and guaranteed employment at a DoD laboratory or agency. In return, scholars commit to a one-for-one employment commitment at their DoD sponsoring facility after obtaining their degree. Since its inception in 2006, the program has awarded more than 3,700 scholarships.

    Phase 1 awardee, Mr. Khaldoon Ishmael, is a former Army combat interpreter and is currently pursuing a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Mr. Ishmael and his mentor, Dr. Richard Ordoñez, are working with the 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines to deliver an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle-based radar system to remotely monitor human vital signs in operational environments. The system will revolutionize search and rescue operations, as well as remote monitoring of warfighter vital signs, even in contested environments.

    Phase 2 awardee, Dr. Regina Guazzo, is awarded for her contributions to ocean acoustics. Dr. Guazzo, an oceanographer, has made significant advances in the study of whale populations and behaviors. Her research is helping the Navy assess and quantify the environmental impact of their acoustic systems. Dr. Guazzo’s mentor, Dr. Tyler Helble, has helped guide Dr. Guazzo’s work since she was a graduate student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Dr. Helble is a Phase 3 SMART scholar himself. Dr. Guazzo is a leader in the NIWC Pacific STEM outreach program, and was recently awarded a SMART SEED grant to study the environmental impacts of low frequency sonars.

    Phase 3 scholar, Dr. David Illig, and his mentor Dr. Linda Mullen’s research in developing state-of-the-art optical sensors and associated advanced signal processing algorithms for identifying underwater threats paved the way for the Navy to maintain undersea dominance against the next generation of maritime threats. Dr. Illig has been twice awarded as a Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Navy Scientist of the Year due to his contributions to laser sensing systems and advanced signal processing. Dr. Mullen has been recognized as NAWCAD Mentor of the Year for her mentorship of early-career scientists and engineers, including SMART scholars like Dr. Illig. Together, Dr. Illig and Dr. Mullen have produced several high-quality research products that have impacted the technological advancement of sensors used by the Navy for anti-submarine warfare and mine warfare applications.

    “I am impressed with number and caliber of award nominations that SMART received, and I am thrilled to recognize these scholar and mentor pairs for their outstanding achievements,” said Dr. Brandon Cochenour, the SMART deputy program manager. “We are particularly pleased with the mission-driven initiatives pursued by this year’s awardees who will continue to help the Department achieve its goals to assist in solving the most pressing technological challenges on both a national and global scale.”

    The three scholar and mentor awardee pairs will be recognized by senior DoD leadership during a virtual event in early 2022. The event will also allow awardees to discuss their work with a larger audience, including members of the DoD technical community and other SMART scholars.

    In addition to the awardees, the SMART Program also bestowed honorable distinction on the following scholar and mentor pairs: Ms. Kaitlyn Detwiler and Dr. Craig Przybyla from Air Force Research Laboratory – Materials and Manufacturing Directorate (Phase 1), Dr. Jose Wippold and Dr. Bryn Adams from the Army Research Laboratory (Phase 2), and Dr. Patrick Fedick and Dr. Ben Harvey from the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division. As an acknowledgement of their notable achievements, Ms. Detwiler, Dr. Wippold, and Dr. Fedick have been invited to speak at the annual SMART Symposium, to be held in July of 2022.

    To learn more about the SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program and the participating DoD sponsoring facilities, visit

    To learn more about the SMART Scholar SEED Grant Program, visit

    To learn more about the Department’s comprehensive K-20 STEM education and talent development effort, visit



    Date Taken: 12.15.2021
    Date Posted: 12.15.2021 06:28
    Story ID: 411142
    Location: ALEXANDRIA, VA, US

    Web Views: 5,156
    Downloads: 0