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Dr. Thomas Cooley, a member of the scientific and technical cadre of senior executives, is the Chief Scientist, Space Vehicles Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Materiel Command, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. As Chief Scientist, Dr. Cooley is responsible for the technical quality of a $200 million annual Air Force space science-and-technology investment. Additionally, Dr. Cooley coordinates these space investments with other government agencies and industry internal research and development to avoid duplication of effort and/or gaps.   

Dr. Cooley began his career at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory developing advanced microwave communications and remote sensing technologies while attending graduate school. After completing his doctorate, he spent one year as a Post-Doc Researcher advancing optical calibration techniques in Toulouse, France.  

He joined the AFRL in 1998, and has contributed to a wide range of technologies focused on Electro-Optic sensors and imaging spectroscopy from space platforms. In 2004, Dr. Cooley became the Principal Investigator of the Advanced Responsive Tactically-Effective Military Imaging Spectrometer, a hyperspectral sensor built to demonstrate the value of phenomenology for a wide range of military applications. Prior to its launch, Dr. Cooley assumed full programmatic responsibility for the entire TacSat-3/ARTEMIS satellite program until its mission ended in April 2012.  In 2015, Dr. Cooley was the AFRL Space Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Mission Lead supporting Air Force Space Command and Air Combat Command technology and capability planning processes.    

Dr. Cooley has published over 70 papers in national and international journals or conferences. He has also served as an adviser on space and airborne sensors technology to the AFSPC, the Space and Missile Systems Center and other organizations. 

1988 Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y.
1991 Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
1995 Doctorate of Science, Optical Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson
2007 Air War College, by correspondence

1. July 1988 – August 1991, Member Technical Staff, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif.
2. August 1991 – February 1995, NASA Graduate Student Fellow at University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.  Sponsored by NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.
3. March 1995 – November 1995, Post-Doctoral Research Scientist, Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches de Toulouse (CERT, now ONERA), Toulouse, France
4. November 1995 – February 1998, Senior Member Technical Staff, Nichols Research Corporation in support of Space Experiments Division, Space Vehicle Directorate, AFRL, Albuquerque, N.M.
5. February 1998 – September 2001, Principal Investigator of Warfighter-1 Hyperspectral sensor, Space Experiments Division, Space Vehicle Directorate, AFRL, Kirtland AFB, N.M.
6. September 2001 – November 2004, Program Manager of Imaging Spectroscopy program, Space Background Division, Space Vehicle Directorate, AFRL, Hanscom AFB, Mass. and Kirtland AFB, N.M.
7. November 2004 – February 2009, Principal Investigator of ARTEMIS payload, Space Experiments Division, Space Vehicle Directorate, AFRL, Kirtland AFB, N.M.
8. February 2009 – April 2012, Program Manager and Principal Investigator for TacSat-3 and ARTEMIS payload, Space Experiments Division, Space Vehicle Directorate, AFRL, Kirtland AFB, N.M.
9. March 2012 – March 2015, AFRL Space ISR Mission Lead, Sensor’s Directorate, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio and Kirtland AFB, N.M.
10. March 2015 – July 2017 Air Force Senior Scientist for Space Situational Awareness, Directed Energy and Space Vehicles Directorates, AFRL, Kirtland AFB, N.M. 
11. July 2017 – present Air Force Chief Scientist for Space Vehicles Directorates, AFRL, Kirtland AFB, N.M.


2001 and 2010 AFRL Commander’s Cup Team Award
2006 AIAA Associate Fellow
2008 AFRL International Team Award (Team Lead and Program Manager)
2009 Harold Gardiner Director’s Cup Award, AFRL/Space Vehicles Directorate
2010 C4ISR Journal “Big 25” Award overall winner, for Tactical Satellite-3
2011 AIAA Top Space Experiment Award for TacSat-3
2011 AFRL Fellow
2016 SPIE Fellow

Society of Photographic Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE), Fellow and Associate Editor for Optical Engineering 
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Associate Fellow and Space Systems Technical Committee
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Senior Member and Atmospheric Transmission Meeting Chairman for IEEE – Geophysics and Remote Sensing Society, 2004-2014

(Current as of July 2018)


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