The Lew Allen Award for Excellence

Purpose of the Award

To recognize and encourage significant individual accomplishments or leadership in scientific research or technological innovation by JPL employees during the early years of their professional careers.


Nature of the Award

Selected by the Chief Scientist and Chief Technologist, the award consists of $25,000 from the JPL Research and Technology Development Fund (R&TD) to be used at JPL to enhance the professional efforts of the awardee.  The award is to be used at JPL in a manner consistent with the objectives and fiscal year constraints of the R&TD.  In addition to R&TD funds, the awardees will receive a monetary award of $10,000.



  1. Up to four awards are given annually to individuals who are regular full-time JPL employees.
  2. Call for nominations will be made by the Chief Scientist each June for awards to be presented in September.
  3. Nominations for the awards are submitted to the Chief Scientist by the Technical Division Managers. An advisory committee, including the Chief Scientist, Chief Technologist, and Director for Engineering and Science will evaluate the nominations and offer recommendations to the JPL Director who will make the final selections.

Criteria and Limitations

  • Criteria will favor circumstances that enable these awards to be among the first in recognizing individuals for their accomplishments and talents.
  • Awardees shall be within ten years of having received their highest academic degree and shall have accomplished one of the following: (a) achieved a major scientific discovery or technological innovation that had a significant impact on the field, (b) established a significant new area of research at JPL, (c) demonstrated unique talent as a leader in their field.
  • Transfer of the funds from R&TD program to the awardee will require a brief written statement from the awardee outlining how the funds will be used.


*NOTE: When the award was founded in 1986, it was called the Director’s Research Achievement Award. After Allen retired as JPL’s director in 1990, it was renamed in his honor as the Lew Allen Award for Excellence.


Past Recipients

Information on past recipients can be found here.