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New chief scientist eyes, ears for AF leaders

WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- Operationalizing space is the top goal of the Air Force’s new chief scientist.

“As the Air Force’s chief scientist, I am the technical eyes and ears for the chief of staff of the Air Force and the secretary of the Air Force, advising and alerting them to key issues,” said Dr. Mark J. Lewis, the newest Air Force chief scientist.

He serves as chief scientific adviser and provides assessments on a wide range of scientific and technical issues affecting the Air Force mission.

“The nature of our adversaries has changed, yet we can bring technology to bear in this,” Dr. Lewis said.

His research activities have contributed directly to several National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Department of Defense programs in the areas of high-speed vehicle and spacecraft design.

“Getting smaller payloads into space faster and being capable of quick global strike are vital to our future mission,” Dr. Lewis said.

He has written more than 220 technical publications and has served on various advisory boards for the Air Force and DOD, including the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.

“My four years on the SAB really helped prepare me for this job,” Dr. Lewis said. “I came from an academic environment, and my work on the SAB allowed me to go to several Air Force bases and learn something about the Air Force. Though, I still have much more to learn.

“Among the things I observed was that the Air Force doesn’t get enough credit for its science and technology programs,” he said. “If you ask people on the street about contributions to aerospace, their first answer will be NASA, but the Air Force research laboratories have done great work.”

Dr. Lewis received his professional education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is currently on leave from his position as professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland and as director of the NASA/DOD space-vehicles technology institute at the University of Maryland.

For the past 19 years, Dr. Lewis has researched and taught many aspects of hypersonic aerodynamics, advanced propulsion and space-vehicle design. He also brings with him what he describes as a key ingredient for Air Force scientists and engineers.

“We love applying science and technology to important national needs, and we especially love designing and building things that fly,” Dr. Lewis said.

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