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Dr. Richard A. Vaia is the Senior Scientist for Emergent Materials Systems in the Air Force Research Laboratory. In this role, he is the principal science and technology adviser to the commander in matters of formulation, planning, managing and integration of new concepts impacting the Aerospace Materials Enterprise. The goal is to accelerate research and development at the convergence of biotechnology, nanotechnology, quantum science and informatics to deliver critical component technologies to address National Defense Strategy focus areas, including warfighter-machine teaming, resilient sensing and communication and futuristic warfighting concepts by empowering Department of Defense-academia-industry partnerships to expedite risk assessment. Dr. Vaia is also a member of the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate’s Technology Council where he advises on the strategies and programs for the Air Force’s $400M annual research and development investment in materials discovery, manufacturing and sustainment technologies. He builds technical partnerships through interactions with universities, industry, government laboratories and the international community.

Prior to assuming these roles, Dr. Vaia was the Technical Director of the Functional Materials Division at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. The division delivers materials and processing solutions to revolutionize Air Force capabilities in survivability, directed energy, reconnaissance and human performance. Dr. Vaia’s research has covered the chemistry, physics and processing of nanomaterials for multifunctional structures, coatings, inks, flexible electronics, optical devices and autonomous concepts. He has published more than 220 articles, is co-inventor on 16 patents and has given over 150 plenary, keynote and invited talks at national and international scientific venues.

1991 Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering, Cornell University, Washington, D.C.
1993 Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering, Cornell University, Washington, D.C.
1995 Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering, Cornell University, Washington, D.C.

1995 - 1999, Captain (USAF), Polymer Branch, Air Force Materials Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
1999 - 2004, Photonics Direction Lead, Polymer Branch, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
2004 - 2008, Research Team Leader, Polymer Branch, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
2008 - 2010, Technology Advisor, NanoStructured and Biological Materials Branch, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
2010 - 2012, Branch Chief, NanoStructured and Biological Materials Branch, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
2012 - 2018, Technical Director, Functional Materials Division, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
2018 - present, Senior Scientist, Emergent Materials Systems, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio

Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement, Air Force ROTC
Tau Beta Pi Fellow
National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowship
US Air Force Outstanding Scientist
Star Team, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Air Force Research Laboratory
AF Civilian Achievement Award
AF Exemplary Civil Service Award
Outstanding Engineers and Scientists Award, Affiliate Societies Council of Dayton
Directors Award, AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate
Cleary Award for Research Excellence, AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate
Doolittle Award, American Chemical Society
Fellow, Air Force Research Laboratory
Fellow, American Chemical Society (Division of Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering)
Fellow, American Physical Society
Fellow, Materials Research Society
Arthur S. Flemming Award, US Air Force Nominee
Distinguished Alumni Award, Cornell University
John McLucas Basic Research Award, United States Air Force
Fellow, American Chemical Society
Fellow, NextFlex, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Institute

2005-2010 Member at Large, Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering Division, American Chemical Society
2006 MRL Visiting Professor at University of California Santa Barbara
2006 - 2008 Chair, Nanoscience and Technology Strategic Technology Team, AFRL, Dayton, Ohio
2006-2010 Board of Directors, Materials Research Society
2012-2015 Member at Large, Division of Polymer Physics, American Physics Society
2018 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Service Chief Fellow

American Chemical Society
American Physics Society
Materials Research Society


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