AFRL NM researchers receive top honors

By Jeanne Dailey

Two Kirtland Air Force Base researchers had a place among those honored when Air Force Research Laboratory Commander Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry recently announced the 2016 AFRL Fellows and the newest class of AFRL Science and Engineering Early Career award recipients.

AFRL-wide, six researchers were welcomed as AFRL Fellows and four as S&E Early Career awardees.

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Paul Zetocha

Paul Zetocha of the AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland is among those selected as AFRL Fellows. Zetocha is the Space Battle Management, Command and Control mission area lead for the directorate.

While his list of achievements is long and noteworthy, one success particularly stands out.

He and his team delivered a new space automation system to the Air Force Space Command for its Joint Space Operations Center Mission System to replace an aging and unsustainable operation. The program provides applications, databases and hardware to improve space situational awareness and command and control of space assets.

A native of Las Vegas, Nevada, Zetocha has worked at AFRL for 29 years, beginning as a bench-level scientist. His most recent selection as a mission area lead recognizes the depth of knowledge and leadership he brings to the laboratory.

“At AFRL we get the opportunity to think outside the box and to research and develop technologies that the Air Force will need in the future,” Zetocha said. “I’ve been privileged to lead several groundbreaking programs that have transitioned technology that is being used by our warfighters today.”

Initiated in 1987, the AFRL Fellows program recognizes AFRL’s most outstanding scientists and engineers for career accomplishments in research, technology development and transition, or program and organizational leadership. Individuals selected for this honor represent the top 0.2 percent of AFRL’s professional technical staff.

As of this year, 185 AFRL researchers have been named AFRL Fellows.

Brad Hoff

Research physicist Brad Hoff of the AFRL Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland was selected as an S&E Early Career Award recipient. He distinguished himself as a principal investigator for the joint Air Force-Navy high-power microwave source effort that will be integrated into a mobile system for an upcoming technology demonstration.

The Air Force recently awarded Hoff several million dollars in grants to study a wide range of high-power electromagnetic technologies. Hoff, who hails from Lodi, California, has worked at AFRL for seven years.

“I am honored to be recognized by AFRL for the work I do within the Directed Energy Directorate,” Hoff said. “Working at AFRL gives me the opportunity to contribute to a variety of exciting and challenging projects that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to participate in anywhere else.”

Hoff said in addition to being enjoyable from a technical point of view, he believes the work done at AFRL is important because it leads to new technology options for warfighters to help safeguard their lives and enhance mission effectiveness.

The AFRL Science and Engineering Early Career Award, first given in 2012, recognizes the laboratory’s most-deserving scientists and engineers for significant research or engineering achievements during the onset of their careers. Normally, no more than four awards are given each year.

The 2016 AFRL Fellows and Science and Engineering Early Career awardees were recognized at a banquet held in their honor Oct. 27 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.