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    SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program Announces 2022 Scholars and Mentors of the Year

    2022 SMART Scholars and Mentors of the Year

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    SMART Scholarship Program

    The Department of Defense (DoD) Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship-for-Service Program recently announced Ms. Karleigh Bradbury and Nisha Charkoudian, Ph.D., (U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM)); Ms. Devin Tarrant and Ms. Karisa Hamilton (Missile Defense Agency (MDA)); Joseph Palomba, Ph.D., and Joshua Uzarski, Ph.D., (U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center); Mr. Jonathan Stroud and Ms. Nicole Palmer (U.S. Space Force, Space Systems Command); Mr. Torrey Bettis and Vernon “Pete” Mills, Ph.D., (MDA); and Patrick Fedick, Ph.D., and Benjamin Harvey, Ph.D., (Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD)) as the winners of the SMART Scholars and Mentors of the Year Award for FY 22.

    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). For each phase, one scholar awardee at the bachelor’s and master’s level, as well as one scholar at the Ph.D. level are recognized. These awards recognize outstanding scholar achievements 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 is one of 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 a DoD sponsoring facility after obtaining their degree. Since inception in 2006, the program has awarded more than 4,200 scholarships.

    Ms. Karleigh Bradbury, a Phase 1 Ph.D. student studying human physiology at the Cardiopulmonary and Respiratory Physiology Laboratory at the University of Oregon. Ms. Bradbury is working with her mentor, Nisha Charkoudian, Ph.D., from USARIEM to evaluate the integrative physiological responses to exercise and thermal stress in people with and without a patent foramen ovale. Ms. Bradbury has completed several research studies with strong military relevance, presented her research at regional, national and international levels, and has published two research manuscripts co-authored by Charkoudian.

    Phase 1 awardee for a bachelor’s/master’s degree, Ms. Devin Tarrant is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering at Auburn University. Ms. Tarrant and her mentor, Ms. Karisa Hamilton, are working within MDA’s Flight Test Execution Division, where they play key roles in flight test training and the execution of multiple high stakes missile defense system tests. Through Ms. Hamilton’s mentorship, Ms. Tarrant facilitated multiple in-person flight test training sessions, ran check lists, and participated ‘on-console’ in the control room during test events. Through their efforts, MDA successfully executed several high visibility multi-national flight tests in support of national defense.

    Joseph Palomba, Ph.D., is awarded as a Phase 2 recipient for his contributions to new technology developments for chemical and biological protection at the Soldier Center. Palomba was awarded a SMART SEED grant for his research to improve atomic force microscopes. His work has led to several high-impact technical publications as well as follow on funding from the Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical Biological Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Joshua Uzarski, Ph.D., is Palomba’s mentor, providing technical assistance on the SEED grant project as well as supporting the growing network for collaboration. Palomba completed his Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego.

    Phase 2 awardee for a bachelor’s/master’s degree, Mr. Jonathan Stroud, and his mentor Ms. Nicole Palmer are awarded for their exemplary contributions to STEM advocacy at the Space Systems Command, Los Angeles Air Force Base. The pair collaborated with three non-profit organizations to develop and lead the space STEM program. The program served more than 6,000 students in 21 underserved schools with grade specific lessons that align with the Next Generation Science and Math standards while promoting STEM careers to youth. Mr. Stroud has a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering with a concentration in space systems from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

    Patrick Fedick, Ph.D, is awarded as a Phase 3 recipient for his contributions to ambient ionization mass spectrometry to environmental issues as well as threat detection for at NAWCWD. Fedick has increased the capabilities of NAWCWD’s Mass Spectrometry Center through multiple grants and partnerships. His research efforts have resulted in thirty-three manuscripts, five invention disclosures, one submitted patent, two patent applications, and fifty-three presentations to national and international audiences. Fedick’s mentor, Benjamin Harvey, Ph.D., has assisted with grant writing, identifying funding opportunities, and led by example as a role model for researchers starting their career. The duo shaped the direction of the Chemistry Division at NAWCWD and expect to lead innovative research for years to come. Fedick earned his Ph.D. from Purdue University in analytical chemistry.

    Phase 3 awardee for a bachelor’s/master’s degree, Mr. Torrey Bettis, is a U.S. Air Force veteran of 21 years that has excelled in leading the NanoSat testbed Initiative program at the MDA by addressing communication needs with the CubeSat Network Communications Experiment space flights. Bettis was a major contributor in two critical space experiments by ensuring funding and development efforts for the Space Vehicle segment, which included preparing and briefing strategies to communicate project status, mission objectives, and risk mitigation. Vernon “Pete” Mills. Ph.D., mentored Mr. Bettis by encouraging him to expand his depth of technical knowledge, take a proactive role in communication technology development, and expand his own communication skills by briefing leadership. Mills’ mentorship provided opportunity for Bettis to serve as Research Area Lead for Technology, as well as author and deliver various reports for MDA strategies on technology readiness and future technology migration. Bettis has degrees in computer and electrical engineering from the University of West Florida.

    “It is with great pride that the SMART Program announces this year’s SMART Scholars and Mentors of the Year. This year’s awardees highlight the technical and professional depth, breadth, and excellence that has become synonymous with the title, ‘SMART scholar,” said Brandon Cochenour, Ph.D., SMART program manager. “Through a combination of technical talent and impactful mentoring, SMART scholars 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 six scholar and mentor pairs will be recognized by senior DoD leadership during the DoD Innovators Spotlight Series in early 2023. The event will allow awardees to discuss their work with a larger audience, including members of the DoD technical community and other SMART scholars.

    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: 12.09.2022
    Date Posted: 12.09.2022 14:49
    Story ID: 434868
    Location: VA, US

    Web Views: 2,374
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