The Lew Allen Award for Excellence Recipients

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.


Award Year


Area of Achievement

1986 Graeme Aston Development and advocacy of electric propulsion technology
1986 Lee-Lueng Fu Analysis of ocean satellite altimetry data
1986 Paula J. Grunthaner Studies of the chemical structure of interfaces in metal-semiconductor and insulator-semiconductor systems
1986 Stanley P. Sander Development of experimental techniques and scientific contributions to the study of tropospheric and stratospheric chemistry
1987 Robert H. Brown Outer planet satellite studies
1987 Margaret A. Frerking Millimeter and submillimeter wavelength heterodyne receivers
1987 Joseph Katz Optoelectronic devices
1987 Paul M. McElroy High accuracy, light weight, graphite-epoxy panels, LDR feasibility
1988 Brian C. Beckman Computer technology, simulation, concurrent processing
1988 Michael H. Freilich Satellite oceanography, NSCAT
1988 Jakob J. van Zyl Radar scattering, imaging radar polarimentry
1988 Howard A. Zebker Radar polarimetry and its application to studies of surface roughness, multiple scattering, and other geophysical parameters
1989 Bonnie J. Buratti Photometric function studies of planetary and planetary satellite surfaces
1989 Geoffrey Blewitt Long-baseline geodesy using GPS
1989 Henry Le Duc NbN-based Josephson-junction mixers for submillimeter astronomy
1989 Joseph W. Perry Organic non-linear materials research
1990 Robert W. Fathauer and True-Lon Lin Development of Si-based MWIR and LWIR detectors
1990 Randall R. Friedl Kinetics and photochemistry of Earth’s stratosphere and the phenomenon of polar ozone depletion
1990 Brian D. Hunt Thin film deposition technology and high-temperature superconductors
1990 William R. McGrath Submillimeter wave superconductor-insulator-superconductor tunnel junction heterodyne receivers
1991 Michael H. Hecht Photovoltaic effects in metal-semiconductor systems
1991 Kevin J. Hussey Computer animation of remotely sensed data
1991 Randy D. May Laboratory and atmospheric tuneable laser spectroscopy
1991 David P. Miller Artificial intelligence for microrobotics and planetary rovers
1992 Lloyd D. Bell II Scanning tunneling microscopy-related technologies
1992 Edward T. Chow Sequence alignment coprocessors Biological Information Signal Processor
1992 James L. Fanson Articulating Fold Mirrors for the Wide Field/Planetary Camera-II
1992 Eric R. Fossum Focal Plane Signal Processing and High Performance Image Sensors
1993 Pierre F. Baldi Theory and Applications of Artificial Neural Systems
1993 Usama M. Fayayad Pioneer work in machine learning/advanced S/W technology to support development of scientist-trainable automated image analysis systems
1993 Seth R. Marder Science of organic materials for nonlinear optics
1993 Patrick J. Smyth Pattern recognition, learning and classification for the analysis of planetary images
1994 Rajiv S. Desai Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Technology
1994 Sarath D. Gunapala QWIP Long Wavelength Focal Plane Arrays
1994 David C. Redding Complex Optical Systems
1995 Steve A. Chien Computer Science
1995 George A. Hajj Theoretical Physics
1995 Michael E. Hoenk Physics
1995 Gloria L. Manney Atmospheric Physics
1996 Yi Chao Ocean Circulation model and in situ and satellite observations
1996 Alexander S. Konopliv Innovative gravity data analysis techniques and creation of high-resolution gravity field models for the Moon, Mars, and Venus
1996 W. Thomas Pike Development of the microseismometer for planetary exploration
1997 Shouleh Nikzad Fundamental understanding and development of advanced scientific low-energy particle detectors
1997 Bedabrata Pain Maintaining and expanding JPL’s lead role in advanced solid state imagers, particularly the Active Pixel Sensor
1997 Paul Stolorz Data mining, image analysis, and massively parallel computing for the automated analysis of very large scientific data sets, and in the pioneering of concepts for onboard analysis of science data
1998 Michael E. Ressler Scientific utilization of satellite radar interferometry to study the stability and mass balance of the great polar ice sheets at their junction with ocean waters
1998 Eric J. Rignot Satellite radar interferometry to study the stability and mass balance of the great polar ice sheets at their junction with ocean waters
1998 Simon H. Yueh Research of passive microwave polarimetric remote sensing to Earth Science investigations
1999 James Bock Low-background SPIDER bolometer arrays, whose extremely low noise characteristics and large array sizes enable a significant step forward in submillimeter astronomy
1999 Son van Nghiem Polarimetric scatterometry for Earth science remote sensing investigations and contributions to future spaceborne advanced instrument concepts
1999 Adrian Stoica Evolvable hardware & for creating a world-class research center in this rapidly emerging field
2000 Richard Dekany Development of the Palomar Adaptive Optics System which provides a dramatic new capability for the 5-m telescope & opens new areas of astrophysical research such as the search for planets
2000 Andrea Donnellan New computational methods in the field of scientific data understanding systems, with applications to complex & varied natural phenomena in numerous scientific fields
2000 Sabrina M. Grannan (Feldman) MECA Wet Chemistry Laboratory and the development of critical microfluidics technologies, which are enabling important new in situ measurement capabilities for NASA
2001 Ayanna Howard Autonomous systems development, including innovative real time software tools for spacecraft precise and safe entry descending and landing applications
2001 Ian Joughin Interferometric SAR for polar ice sheet topography and motion; development of remote sensing techniques for vector measurement of ice flow; contributions to Earth Science missions
2001 Victoria S. Meadows Bringing to JPL an important new research endeavor in the now-evolving area of detection of biosignatures from extrasolar planets by spectroscopic observations with space-based astronomical instruments
2001 Juergen Mueller Development of miniaturized thrusters and feed system components, a new area of propulsion engineering which is critical to the development of highly capable microspacecraft
2002 Serge Dubovitsky Interferometric & formation flying technologies & space missions, and developing highly innovative optoelectronic concepts including dual target metrology and the Modulation Sideband Technology for Absolute Range (MSTAR) sensor
2002 Andrew Edie Johnson Machine vision algorithms for safe and precise landing
2002 Dmitry Strekalov Quantum Lithography, and creating the quantum internet tested and the single-photon quantum optics technology capabilities at JPL, which form the keystone for the larger JPL quantum Technologies, thrust area
2002 Daniel Wilson Fabrication of diffractive optics by electron beam lithography, particularly as applied to convex gratings for imaging spectrometers
2003 Jennifer Dooley Singularly responsible for establishing a significant new area of nanolaminate reflector technology at JPL and is now leading the technology effort on the large aperture technology development
2003 Christophe Dumas In the application of adaptive optics to astrophysical problems. Effectively combined the techniques of diffraction-limited imaging and infrared spectroscopy to provide multispectral views of small bodies in the solar system and nearby young stars at high spatial resolution
2003 Eui—Hyeok Yang Developed several significant areas of research in MEMS-based actuators for space applications, utilizing MEMS actuators for the development of high-pressure, low leak-rate microvalves, continuous membrane deformable mirrors and inch-worm devices for segmented mirror assembly and control for large aperture, space-based telescopes
2004 Andrey Matsko For seminal and unique theoretical contributions in quantum optics, in particular the nonlinear interactions of crystalline whispering gallery mode resonators
2004 Alina Moussessian Outstanding leadership and technological innovation that has enabled a new capability using lightweight active membrane antennas for space-based radar and for helping build a strong technology program
2004 Charles Norton For demonstration of unique talents as a technical leader in the field of advanced parallel computing which has enabled high fidelity, efficient simulations of physical systems
2004 Michael Seiffert Leadership in establishing dark energy as a new field of research at JPL and for breakthrough developments in mass-producible cryogenic radiometer arrays
2005 Daniel Stern (aka Stevens) For revealing the early history of the Universe. Finding one of the most distant galaxies known, he inferred that the Universe remains ionized to an earlier epoch than previously believed
2005 Linda del Castillo For the work in development of high temperature resistant electronics and the associated electronic packaging to be used in hostile environments such as encountered on the surface of the planet Venus
2005 Lorene Samoska For the development and fostering of millimeter-wave power amplifier technology. This technology has become mission enabling for passive and active science observations in the frequency range 90-2500GHz

Amanda Hendrix

For outstanding scientific leadership and major contributions to the field of ultraviolet spectroscopic research of planetary bodies

Harish Manohara

For advancing the performance of carbon nanotube-based field emitters and Schottky diode high-frequency detectors as enabling technologies for miniature science instruments and nanoelectronics

Adrian Ponce

For pioneering work on chemical and biological detection and instrumentation, which meets critical needs in astrobiology, planetary protection and national defense

Jason Rhodes

For outstanding scientific leadership in the field of weak lensing which enabled the first large-scale measurement of the three-dimensional distribution of dark matter in our universe


Paul Johnson

For research in the areas of atomic and molecular physics, physics and chemistry of planetary ices, and instrument development


Pekka Kangaslahti

For demonstrating world leadership in the fields of monolithic microwave integrated circuit design and millimeter-wave component development, capabilities

Ioannis Mikellides

For the development of outstanding computational models of the plasma physics in electric propulsion hollow cathodes, and of their major wear mechanisms

Hui Su

For major advances in the understanding of water vapor and cloud feedbacks on climate change

Kiri Wagstaff

For advancing the performance and application of machine learning methods to onboard and ground-based space science, Earth science and spacecraft engineering

Charles Matt Bradford

For the development of a novel design for a submillimeter/far infrared grating spectrometer being used for ground-based discoveries and future observation from space

Cory J. Hill

For technical innovation and leadership in developing epitaxial growth processes for advanced Sb-based optoelectronics and long wave superlattice focal plane arrays for remote sensing systems

Jeffrey S. Norris

For exemplary vision, innovation and leadership in fundamentally advancing the capabilities for scientific involvement in planning operations on NASA's missions

Josh Willis

For fundamental contributions to the understanding of global ocean circulation and sea level change from analysis of satellite and in-situ observations

Shannon Brown

For innovations in the field of microwave radiometry as demonstrated on Topex, Jason-I and II and the novel application of radiometers to measure climate change

Julie Castillo-Rogez

For outstanding leadership in establishing the Planetary Tides Simulation Facility and exceptional scientific accomplishments in measuring fundamental ice physical properties under planetary conditions

Amy Mainzer

For her knowledge of solar system minor bodies based on automated methods of analyzing space infrared observations

Nathan Strange

For expertise and innovation in gravity-assist tour design, and for both leadership and creativity in the development of novel advanced mission concepts

Ken Cooper

For the development and demonstration of the world's first THz imaging radar system

Kevin Hand

For outstanding leadership in the field of Astrobiology

Richard Hofer

For outstanding technical contributions and leadership in establishing JPL as a world leader in Hall thruster research and development

Eric Larour

For outstanding accomplishment in developing the Ice Sheet System Model that significantly contributes to our knowledge of Global Change

Marina Brozović

For her exceptional leadership and research roles in both satellite ephemeris development and near-Earth object radar research

Ian Clark

For exceptional leadership and achievement in the development of advanced Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) technologies

Baris Erkmen

For outstanding leadership and technical accomplishments in optical communications and imaging research, especially the establishment of computational ghost imaging as a significant new area of research at JPL

Christian Frankenberg

For quantifying global plant photosynthesis from satellite chlorophyll fluorescence observations, enabling uniquely valuable unprecedented insights into the terrestrial carbon cycle

Abigail Allwood

For geobiology research and scientific leadership in Mars Sample Return impacting direction of the Mars 2020 mission

Carmen Boening

For performing fundamental interdisciplinary research in climate science and coordinating research on sea level rise prediction at JPL

Michael Mischna

For leadership in Mars atmospheric science research that enables improved EDL precision and advances in knowledge of Mars’ climate history

David Thompson

For leadership of machine learning by autonomous robots and intelligent onboard analysis of large datasets
2014 Rodney Anderson For his exceptional discoveries and leadership in the development of new trajectory design techniques, particularly the lunar low-energy trajectory design
2014 Michelle Gierach

For expanding the scope of JPL oceanography research in marine biophysical interaction, ecosystem dynamics, and ocean salinity science

2014 Robert Hodyss For pioneering studies of the properties of cryogenic hydrocarbon liquids and critical contributions to the development of the PIXL instrument
2014 Aaron Parness

For development of new climbing robots and robotic grippers with widespread application to space and terrestrial exploration

2015 Darmindra Arumugam

For inventing and developing Active and Passive Magneto-Quasi-Static Positioning for long-range near-field positioning for non-line of sight environments

2015 Sabah Bux

For leadership in the development of novel high performance high temperature nanocomposite bulk thermoelectric materials using advanced synthetic methods

2015 Damon Landau

For innovation in mission architecting and mission design, and for leadership and creativity in the development of advanced mission concepts

2015 Jason Williams

For innovative research in ultra-cold atoms, atom interferometry, and fundamental physics

2016 Mathieu Choukroun For pioneering studies of the physical properties of cryogenic materials and contributions to MIRO and the US Rosetta mission
2016 Andrew Klesh For technical leadership of deep space smallsats and under-ice robotic rover technologies in support of terrestrial and outer planets exploration
2016 Boon Lim For leadership and technological innovation in the emerging field of microwave remote sensing science on nanosatellites
2016 David Wiese For exceptional leadership and research roles in GRACE data processing and Earth gravity science
2017 Piyush Agram For major contributions to InSAR-based geodetic imaging and geophysical time series analysis
2017 Nacer Chahat For demonstrated unique talent as a leader in rapid spacecraft antenna development and telecom systems engineering for CubeSats
2017 Arezou Khoshakhlagh

For technical innovation in developing the novel Gallium-free antimonides superlattice epitaxial material system for advanced mid-wavelength and long-wavelength infrared detectors

2017 Sylvain Piqueux For leadership in the study of surface thermal properties of terrestrial worlds, and support of JPL missions to these bodies
2018 Laura Barge For pioneering research on the application of electrochemistry to studies of the origin and emergence of life.
2018 Alex Gardner For establishing a new unified system architecture to process Cryosphere data, leading to new scientific discoveries related to the evolution of polar ice caps.
2018 Cecile Jung-Kubiak

For demonstrated excellence in the development of innovative silicon micromachining techniques that have enabled novel electromagnetic, mechanical, and propulsion devices.

2018 Jose Siles For the development of high-power ultra-compact room-temperature multi-pixel terahertz sources and receivers for balloon-borne and space instruments.
2019 Davide Farnocchia

For exceptional leadership and research roles in orbit reconstruction and prediction of asteroids and comets.

2019 Marco Lavalle

For sustained leadership in creating and advancing new Earth-science applications of Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar.

2019 Joseph Masiero

For his work in establishing the physical properties of near-Earth asteroids and the threats they pose to Earth.

2019 Maria Fernanda Mora

For excellence in the development and validation of chemical analysis methodology and electrophoresis instruments for future life detection missions.

2020 Brian Bue For exceptional contributions to machine-learning for remote sensing systems.
2020 Morgan Cable For exceptional contributions to our understanding of chemistry on Titan’s surface.
2020 Benjamin Hamlington For exceptional contributions to understanding sea level change.
2020 Sidharth Misra For exceptional contributions to digital microwave radiometry.
2021 Ali Agha For exceptional leadership and technological innovation in the emerging field of AI in support of autonomous exploration of extreme terrains.
2021 Emmanuel Decrossas

For outstanding leadership and technological innovation advancing the field of low frequency antenna simulation and measurements.

2021 Jonathan Hobbs For outstanding accomplishments in research and development of uncertainty quantification approaches for atmospheric retrievals.
2021 Laura Kerber For exceptional scientific leadership and research on the geology and geophysics of the terrestrial planets and of the Moon.
2022 David Bekaert

For his leadership in applying radar and optical remote sensing to societal needs, and for leading the OPERA Science Team.

2022 Tuan Vu

For his pioneering experimental work on the chemical composition and geological processes of icy worlds.

2022 Emma Wollman

For outstanding record of innovation in superconducting nanowire single photon detectors and their implementation in the DSOC project.

2023 Scott Roberts For outstanding intellectual leadership in printed porous materials technology foundational to advancements in thermal, structural and propulsion applications.
2023 James Sinclair For exceptional leadership advancing outer-planet atmospheric research and our understanding of atmospheric-magnetospheric interactions.
2023 Jennifer Scully For outstanding contributions to Dawn, Europa Clipper’s Reconnaissance Focus Group activities, and dedication to community service and inclusion.
2023 Rashmi Shah For outstanding achievements and leadership spanning science and engineering in the emergent field of Signals of Opportunity remote sensing.