4th Annual GTRI Distinguished Performance Awards

Published: May 10, 2012

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From innovative solutions and collaborative research to student achievement and mentor recognition, the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) recognized its research and support staff at the fourth annual Distinguished Performance Awards and Honors.

Held April 27, 2012, in the GTRI Conference Center, employees were recognized for contributions to GTRI's strategic goals in the areas of technical preeminence, people, environment and benchmarking success. As in previous years, lab awards were presented to researchers and support staff who work within the labs and on research projects. Employees in administrative support units and executive offices won support operations awards.

Georgia Tech Vice President and GTRI Director Bob McGrath kicked off the program and presented the Director's awards, while GTRI Deputy Directors Lisa Sills and Tom McDermott served as presenters.

Each recipient received a glass award engraved with his or her name and the award category. Group winners received framed certificates. Additionally, photos of the 2011 winners will be placed in the lobby of the 250 14th Street building. Pictures of past winners are located on the fifth floor.

The 2011 GTRI Distinguished Performance Award winners are:

Advanced Metamaterials Project Team Advanced Metamaterials Project Team: Jeffrey Bean, Christina Creyts, Don Creyts, Jeremy Ellis, David Reid, Mike Knotts, Todd Lee (all STL):  INNOVATIVE RESEARCH AWARD - This award is presented to the research faculty member or team based on their initiative, creative thinking and innovation used to solve complex problems. Emphasis is placed on collaborative approaches to innovation, demonstrating engagement with others in the research community at GTRI and/or across Georgia Tech. "The Advanced Metamaterials Project Team took a 'wild' idea for a new Department of Defense-relevant technology from concept to design to fabrication and ultimately to measurement which enabled GTRI to develop an idea for an innovative new technology that had not been tried before. The team's success impressed the sponsor, who now has plans for significant follow-on activities to implement this new technology in a representative environment. The successful demonstration provided a viable path toward development in support of the DoD."

Network Architecture Team Network Architecture Team: Sam Holley (ISD, Research Scientist I), and Will Miller (ISD, Research Scientist I): INNOVATIVE SOLUTION AWARDThis award recognizes a support unit staff member or team who has devised a solution or suggested a process improvement that results in significant time and/or cost savings for GTRI. Nominator’s comments: "Sam and Will Provided 90 percent of the technical effort to build the Defense Research and Engineering Network/Secure Defense Research and Engineering Network (DREN/SDREN) and the existing infrastructure that allowed the new interface to be implemented. They redesigned several aspects of SCOVE infrastructure to ensure compatibility. They were responsible for the coordination and implementation of the external data links which were required to integrate DREN/SDREN into the existing infrastructure and also designed the SecureNet interface to communicate with the central secure hub implemented on campus. Eight different locations are now online, including field offices, the Cobb County Research Facility (CCRF) and campus. A total of 12 AIS facilities are tied into SecureNet."

Sharon BishopSharon Bishop (STL, Admin Mgr I): OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE IN RESEARCH SUPPORT (ADMINISTRATIVE) - This award recognizes a classified staff member, research faculty employee or team whose performance was most outstanding in support of GTRI research activities. Nominator’s comments: "Sharon exceeds expectations, both in performance and attitude. As a primary coordinator, her duties include providing food, lodging, parking and all other aspects necessary to provide a good customer experience for GTRI guests. In addition to special events, Sharon handles a myriad of tasks to keep the Signature Technology Laboratory (STL) running smoothly, maintaining the lab director’s calendar, navigating the hiring process and making travel arrangements."

Cheryl Graham Cheryl Graham (ELSYS, Information Analyst II): OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE IN RESEARCH SUPPORT (ADMINISTRATIVE) - This award recognizes a classified staff member, research faculty employee or team whose performance was most outstanding in support of GTRI research activities. Nominator's comments: "Cheryl Coordinated activities as the Air National Guard hosted more than 1,100 military personnel for the annual eight-day Weapons and Tactics Conference. She was requested by name to assist with the 2011 National Association of Old Crows Conference in Washington, D.C., an event which hosts approximately 20,000 people. She has coordinated many meetings at Georgia Tech during 2011 for U.S. government sponsors; in particular she arranged and handled all the logistics for a visit by 12 general officers for a two-day meeting. She does outstanding work in helping manage the Program Office budgets and getting approximately 22 monthly reports out on time, and works with 30 ANGPO assigned personnel to ensure all travel documents are done correctly and on time -- a group that averages $50,000 of travel per month."

Lee MeineckeLee Meinecke (ASLH, IT Support Professional Sr.) - OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE IN RESEARCH SUPPORT (TECHNICAL): This award recognizes a classified staff member, research faculty employee or team whose performance was most outstanding in support of GTRI research activities. Nominator's comments: "Lee's diligence and superb work ethic resulted in GTRI’s success in securing funding for ABITT, a $3 million+ project. He has taken on a nearly full-time appointment to secure Information Assurance Certification for the Advanced Systems Laboratory at Huntsville’s (ASLH) source code and custom hardware with the Army’s Software Engineering Directorate (SED), the first time ever ASLH’s custom hardware has been approved for use inside SED. He has worked beyond work hours to meet deadlines and discover how to best service GTRI’s customer, the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Project Office."

Bill GregoryBill Gregory (RSD, Associate Director-Research Security) - OUTSTANDING PROGRAM SUPPORT AWARD: This award is presented to a support unit staff member or team whose home department is in a support unit and whose performance was most outstanding in support of GTRI research activities. Nominator’s comments: "Not only does Bill provide outstanding program support for all research activities at CCRF and on GTRI’s Atlanta campus, but he provided policy and security guidance during a renovation that impacted all security disciplines and sub-functional areas. His dedication to ensuring 100 percent compliance with closed area construction requirements resulted in his appointment by the Defense Security Service (DSS) as a “Self-Certifier” for GTRI – the first in the history of GTRI. As manager of the security program for the $15 million CCRF Infrastructure Project, he worked with the Support Services Department (SSD) to ensure all security-related matters were addressed immediately to eliminate any potential work stoppage and/or cost impact. His expertise in Department of Defense (DoD) physical security requirements facilitated the accreditation of two closed areas to ensure continuity of classified computer processing and related activities."

REF Program REF Program TeamTeam: Terence Haran (EOSL, Research Engineer II), and
Ben Medlin (EOSL, Research Engineer II): OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE IN PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT - This award is presented to the research faculty member or team who made the most outstanding contributions to research program development during the previous calendar year. Recipients are recognized for superior initiative, creativity and exceptional performance for enhancing GTRI’s long-term reputation of excellence and continued growth. Nominator’s comments: "Ben and Terrence are largely responsible for developing programs for the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF), establishing REF as GTRI’s largest customer. In less than a year, the team was able to facilitate the testing of four different programs for deployment in theater or operational testing.”

Robert MalletRobert Mallett (RSD, Special Security Programs Manager): PHYLLIS CHRISTOPHER MEMORIAL SECURITY AWARD  - Named in honor of a retired member of the GTRI Research Security Staff who passed away in 2007, this award recognizes a GTRI classified staff member, research faculty member or team who demonstrates outstanding performance in one or more aspects of the National Industrial Security Program regarding the protection of classified/sensitive information. Nominator’s comments: "Robert consistently provides reliable and efficient service in managing and performing security functions related to multiple programs providing seamless interface with security organizations in government, industry and other research laboratories; and greatly simplifying many activities conducted by project engineers. Due to his diligence, there is a significant improvement in the Sensors and Electromagnetic Applications Laboratory’s (SEAL) security posture, and as a result the lab was able to increase its revenues by 24 percent over the prior year."

Michael WillisMichael Willis (ELSYS, Principal Research Engineer): PROGRAM MANAGEMENT EXCELLENCE AWARD - This award recognizes outstanding performance at all levels, including task, project and unit. Exemplary management of special events or functions can also be recognized. Nominator’s comments: "Michael is a star performer in his dealings with senior military leaders in Washington, D.C., and throughout the U.S. when working on technical and programmatic issues. His program management, leadership success and sponsor relationships resulted in $10 to $15 million in research awards in 2011. He has proven his ability to manage projects and see them through on schedule and within cost managing day-to-day operations for 17 different GTRI projects with a total value of more than $79 million. He helped build the contracting ceiling to more than $258 million for these projects."

Debbie Winn Debbie Winn (SPA, Financial Analyst II):  DISTINGUISHED CUSTOMER SERVICE AWARD - This award recognizes a GTRI support unit staff member or team who enhances the customer experience by providing personalized and attentive service to teammates, supervisors, lab personnel and visitors. Nominator’s comments: "Debbie has consistently provided dedicated, quality service to Aerospace, Transportation and Advanced Systems Laboratory (ATAS) and SEAL because she fully understands the efforts of GTRI researchers to sustain a competitive edge for excellence. She goes above and beyond to provide exemplary proposal support, building a reputation of respect and reliability among CCRF researchers and the Georgia Tech Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) contract officers. Debbie is praised by sponsors and GTRI researchers for work on ITT, NAWCWD and three additional IARPA proposals."

Christopher Valenta Christopher Valenta (EOSL, Graduate Research Assistant) - GRADUATE STUDENT RESEARCH AWARD: This award recognizes the graduate student employee, GRA or co-op who has provided outstanding performance and superior technical achievements that display excellence in support of GTRI research activities.  Nominator's comments: "Christopher 'saved the day' on a project with three engineers from Georgia Tech-Ireland tasked with developing an RFID-enabled Trigger Smart Handgun. He helped General Motors understand the unique capabilities of UHF RFID to track the logistics of parts on the factory assembly line, demonstrating the only functional 5.8 GHz RFID system in the world.  His work will enable GTRI to build a large, three-laser system to conduct atmospheric characterization for directed energy weapons testing, while his doctoral dissertation represents ground-breaking work in microwave energy harvesting."

Andrew BattigagliaAndrew Battigaglia (ELSYS, Student Assistant): UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT RESEARCH AWARD - This award recognizes an undergraduate student employee or co-op who has provided outstanding performance in support of GTRI research activities. Nominator’s comments: "Andrew moves seamlessly between different tasks, actively creating and developing tests and related documents and executing tests and played a critical role in the development of innovative Threat Response Processor (TRP) mission data testing. His identification of test-and-process issues has contributed to the improvement of the test development and execution process of an entire branch. He is adept at identifying and assessing potential system deficiencies and weaknesses to environmental threats through data analysis."

Justin BridgesJustin Bridges (ISD, Student Assistant): OUTSTANDING STUDENT AWARD - Awarded to a student employee or co-op student who has provided outstanding performance in a support unit. Nominator’s comments: "Justin assisted the Career Management Department (CMD) with a challenge to offer more webinar courses to GTRI field office employees. He ensured CMD was well-acquainted with Microsoft Lync, resulting in an increase in webinar offerings to GTRI researchers and classified staff. Justin ensured training representatives were comfortable presenting materials and participated in the first webinar offering to guarantee the course was delivered smoothly."

Aram PartizianAram Partizian (SEAL, Senior Research Scientist): DISTINGUISHED MENTOR AWARD IN LABS - This award recognizes a member of the GTRI general faculty who has sustained outstanding achievement in mentoring junior researchers. Nominator’s comments: "Aram was nominated by three of his mentees. He has dedicated countless hours working with junior researchers to make sure they succeeded on projects and they have quickly undertaken responsibilities past their experience levels planning and executing tests, and interacting directly with all office customers. He worked with a team of junior engineers to prepare a paper that was submitted and presented at Tri-Service Radar Symposium 2011."

Robert Delano Robert Delano (EOSL, Research Scientist I): DISTINGUISHED OUTREACH AWARD - This award recognizes a member of the general faculty who represents GTRI in exemplary public and human relations work, including contributions to the local community, state, region or nation through outreach activities. Nominator’s comments: "Robert has been asked to speak at conferences and graduate-level classes at Georgia Tech, and has provided several interviews regarding this innovative GTRI technology. He served as a panel speaker at the Georgia Life Sciences Summit 2011 on the emergence of wireless technologies in healthcare, is a volunteer conference leader for the Atlanta location of The International 2011 Random Hacks of Kindness, demo chair for the International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD2012) and a key member of the iTrem development team."

I-BESS Team I-BESS Team (Integrated Blast Environment Sensor Systems) : Sean Ahonen (ELSYS), Brad Fain (ELSYS), David Fentem (ELSYS), Molly Gary (SEAL), Wiley Holcombe (ATAS), Stephen Hague (ELSYS), Terence Haran (EOSL), Jesse Hester (ELSYS), Jonathan Holmes (ATAS), Phillip Johnston (ELSYS), Brian Liu (ELSYS), Frank Marrs (ATAS), Whit Matteson (ELSYS), Russ McCrory (ELSYS), Alessio Medda (ATAS), Nicholas Mulkey (ELSYS), Ross Pettingill (ELSYS), Shean Phelps (ELSYS), John Porcello (ELSYS), Stewart Skiles (ATAS), Dana Stocks (ELSYS), Brent Tillery (ELSYS), Al Vineyard (ATAS), Douglas Woods (ELSYS): ONE GTRI COLLABORATION AWARD - This award recognizes collaborative efforts across labs, support units and Georgia Tech as a whole that resulted in a team effort to accomplish a significant task. Nominator's comments: "The I-BESS Team is responsible for integrating sensor systems in and on vehicles and soldiers for the goal of collecting shock and pressure data. They worked 18,000 hours and within six months produced a prototype with installed sensors and data-recording devices. Due to the success of this prototype, GTRI has been awarded $10 million for Phase 2 to be completed in 2012."

Julie McCoy Julie McCoy (SPA, Associate Director-Accounting): DISTINGUISHED RECOGNITION AWARD - This award recognizes an individual employee serving in a support role who best exemplifies GTRI’s mission and values as determined by his/her peers. The recipient seizes opportunities as they arise and takes initiative to set and achieve goals that improve customer service. This candidate exerts a positive influence on others, promotes cooperation and teamwork, sets high standards and motivates others. Nominator’s comments: "Many of the current improvements and fixes to the new systems are a direct result of Julie's efforts with Georgia Tech campus leaders. In addition, she led initiatives with the Enterprise Systems Department (ESD) to establish GTRI reporting from the Travel & Expense system to manage GTRI travel operations."

Jeff JenkinsJeff Jenkins (ISD, Director-Research): SUSTAINED EXCELLENCE IN SERVICE AWARD - This award recognizes sustained and stellar performance in support of GTRI and the institute at large in achieving significant and visible results for the entire organization. The individual selected reflects GTRI’s core values and leads by example, as well as understands the importance of teamwork, empowers and encourages others to excel, gives credit where credit is due, performs as a servant leader and sets an example for others to follow. Nominator’s comments: "Georgia Tech campus leadership often asks Jeff for suggestions and advice on critical technical decisions. His initiatives keep GTRI on the leading edge of technology and ensure our security in an ever-risky cyber environment. He led the implementation of the VOIP telephone system, which saves GTRI $250,000 per year, centralized Microsoft Exchange for corporate calendaring and email systems, VPN for secure Internet connections, a modern central network and firewall system, a unified password and IT security infrastructure, the SharePoint collaboration infrastructure and, most recently, an integrated camera system for many of GTRI’s buildings for safety and theft prevention."

Erica BriscoeErica Briscoe (ATAS, Research Scientist II): JUNIOR RESEARCH EXCELLENCE AWARD - This award recognizes a junior member of the research staff for outstanding, creative research resulting in innovative and novel solutions to real world problems. Nominator’s comments: "Erica successfully led GTRI’s Strategic Initiative in Behavioral Modeling and Computational Social Systems, expanded research to behavioral aspects of social media, including developing relationships across campus and conducting joint research on three DARPA awards."

Brad FainBrad Fain (ELSYS, Principal Research Scientist): OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE IN RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT - This award recognizes a researcher who has made significant, high quality, innovative contributions in science, technology or engineering research at GTRI. Through this work, the researcher, his/her lab, GTRI and the Institute are the recipients of widespread recognition. Nominator’s comments: "Brad secured funding for establishing packaging ease-of-use guidelines for Australia’s Health Network Food Purchasing Program, helped to secure $850,000 in additional funding for a general population voting project for Georgia Tech and established a night vision test lab."