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Director of AF Office of Scientific Research Briefed on Research During First Visit to UTSI

Brendan Godfrey, Director, Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), got a thorough update on research under way at The University of Tennessee Space Institute and shared much about the work of his organization during a recent two-day visit.

Godfrey described a wide range of Air Force research including a relatively new area of linking “human cognition” with life sciences, physics, electronics, mathematics, and other ways of investigating “how humans and machines work together.”

Before returning to Washington on Sept. 7, the director also visited Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) and met with its commander, Brig. Gen. David L. Stringer..

“We were honored to have Godfrey visit UTSI for the first time,” said Donald C. Daniel, UT associate vice president and chief operating officer of UTSI.

“This is the first in a series of planned visits by national leaders of government research.”

Citing the Institute’s close partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and AEDC, Daniel told the visitor that UTSI “has much collaboration both in research and academics, which we need in the state. But we need even broader collaboration, not only in Tennessee, but also on the national level.”

He noted that UTSI has “considerable research of national significance” but assured Godfrey that “we want more. “ The Institute is “close to AEDC, as well as NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville,” he added.

“Daniel and I have worked together for about 20 years,” Godfrey noted in telling a room-full of UTSI professors and researchers that his office supports research ”in a wide variety of disciplines.” He added that a considerable amount of this research funding goes to universities.

On the first day of Godfrey’s visit, four professors gave presentations on some of their research before one of them, William Hofmeister, took the visitor on a quick tour of the Center for Laser Applications (CLA) of which he is director.

In sharing about various research at CLA, Hofmeister also noted that UTSI, UT and Oak Ridge have established a “joint center for advanced photonic processing.”

Lloyd Davis talked about how his work with single molecule detection had led him into other areas of research, including nano technology, adding that “Single molecule spectroscopy is a key tool into other areas of research.”

Gary Flandro, who holds the Institute’s Boling Chair of Excellence in Space Propulsion, discussed his current research interests in controlling pressure oscillations in the solid rocket boosters that may be used in NASA’s new Orion launch vehicle program. Flandro, who will be leading a seminar on this subject at Edwards Air Force Base this month, said fellow professor Joe Majdalani provides valuable assistance in this work. Ideally, Flandro said, it is best to find the flaws during detailed early analysis and testing rather than later in flight.

John Steinhoff, a physicist and research professor, reviewed his revolutionary method of understanding vortical airflows and application of his work to helicopters.

Other faculty members making presentations the next day were Drs. Ahmad Vakili, who is heading UTSI’s research into carbon fibers, Stephen Corda, program chair of UTSI’s Aviation Systems program, and Trevor Moeller, who discussed his research in electro propulsion and other projects.

Afterwards, Daniel emphasized that “it is very important to the nation that these leaders have knowledge of UTSI, our talented faculty and staff, and our research interests and strengths. We also must listen very carefully to their priorities and, where we have expertise, offer our assistance. We have initiated this dialog with Godfrey and look forward to expanding our opportunities to serve Air Force basic research needs.”