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Air Force Research Laboratory interns win prestigious awards

  • Published
  • By Santana Ortiz
  • Air Force Research Laboratory

Two Air Force Research Laboratory summer scholars were named the recipients of the Directed Energy Professional Society’s prestigious graduate scholarships.

The AFRL Scholars Program is a summer internship available to students nationwide who are interested in STEM fields.

The DEPS scholarship awards honor exemplary, full-time, graduate students who are pursuing development of directed energy technology - specifically high-energy lasers or high-power microwaves.

University of Rochester’s Matthias Banet was awarded the Dr. Samuel Blankenship Directed Energy Scholar Award. He was recognized for his research on 3D imaging with frequency-diverse digital holography and image sharpening.

Banet was inspired to enter the directed energy field in 2016 after his first summer scholar internship with Dr. Mark Spencer in AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate.

“I have served as Matthias’s mentor for five consecutive summers at AFRL, where he has performed groundbreaking research in digital holography with an emphasis on deep-turbulence characterization and mitigation,” Spencer said.

Banet maintains lofty goals for his future in DE and plans to use the scholarship to further his academics as well as his understanding of the DE community. He hopes to attend future DE conferences to network with the renowned scientists and engineers pursuing similar research.

“I aim to develop new algorithms that sharpen images which have been degraded by turbulence, and to eventually prepare them for real-time use,” Banet said. “Currently we're working on 3D imaging through turbulence by illuminating distant objects with multiple frequencies of laser light. The results show 3D imaging has benefits that give it a leg up over 2D imaging.”

Like many renowned AFRL researchers, Spencer has dedicated the time and effort to ensuring that students like Banet receive a worthwhile experience during their time in the lab.

“Matthias continues to make significant contributions to the directed energy community,” Spencer said. “I believe that he is a next-generation leader for this community.”

Another scholar who received the DEPS scholarship is University of Arizona’s Joseph Cox, who was awarded the Dr. Jack Slater Award. Cox was recognized for his research in evaluation of event-based cameras for target tracking applications.

“The award shows that DEPS leadership has confidence in my ability to progress and contribute to the DE field,” Cox said. “It shows that my work is potentially impactful and holds value within the DEPs community.”

Nicholas Morley Ph.D. has been Cox’s mentor, and firmly believes in the potential of the research Cox has been developing while working with AFRL.

“His research is improving understanding of how event-based cameras change detection and measurement architectures,” Morley said. “It can be leveraged to improve signal to noise ratio, speed, effective dynamic range, and overall performance for laser and directed energy system applications.”

Both Cox and Banet hold the AFRL Scholars Program in high regard and hope that others who have similar goals might consider the opportunity to further their own.

“I had a great time in the AFRL summer scholars program and would highly recommend it to anyone considering applying,” Cox said.

Each award will provide the Scholars with $10,000 to use toward their academic and research endeavors.

“The scholarship will allow for more networking opportunities within the DE community, and that will be essential in order to progress in the field,” Cox said.

Since 2011, DEPS has provided more than $1 million in scholarships to over 140 students. The awards are funded by grants from the Directed Energy Joint Transition Office and DEPS.

About AFRL Scholars
The AFRL Scholars Program is a stipend paid internship opportunity for students interested in STEM fields. Applicants can range from high school students to graduate students, as well as instructors and educators in STEM. Applications are currently being accepted at:

About AFRL
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit: