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Blue Sky Competition Selection Committee

2019 Selection Committee


Sofi Bin-Salamon
Program Manager, Biophysics Program
Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR)

Sofi Bin-Salamon received his PhD in Chemistry at North Carolina State University in 2005. He then served as a National Research Council Research Associate in the Chemistry Division at US Naval Research Laboratory where he developed nanoelectronic materials. Afterwards, he expanded his work on materials chemistry to include photodynamic therapy. This was initially performed in the Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M University and later continued at the Radiation Oncology Branch within the National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health. Sofi has served as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow and Program Manager at the AFOSR International Office. He currently is the Program Manager of the AFOSR Biophysics program.


Frank W. Gayle
Deputy Director, Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (AMNPO)
Deputy Director, NIST Office of Advanced Manufacturing
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Frank W. Gayle is Deputy Director of the interagency Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office, which is headquartered at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This office coordinates federal activities in advanced manufacturing, and is the Congressionally-designated National Program Office for Manufacturing USA®. His past roles at NIST include serving as Division Chief of the NIST Metallurgy Division, where he focused on measurement needs for industry. Frank also led the team of technical experts on the forensics of structural steel in the Congressionally mandated NIST investigation of the World Trade Center disaster on September 11, 2001. Prior to joining NIST, Frank spent 11 years in the aerospace industry. He is a Fellow of SME and ASM International, and a Member of the World Economic Forum - Global Future Council on the Future of Manufacturing. Frank earned an Sc.D. in Materials Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and degrees in Civil and Mechanical Engineering from Duke University.


Rob Ivester
Director, Federal Energy Management Program
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Department of Energy (DoE)

Robert W. Ivester currently serves as the Director of the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. FEMP oversees the implementation of policy and actions that result in energy efficiency implementation, renewable energy adoption, and reduction in energy and water use in federal government operations. Prior to this position, he served in AMO for six years. During that time, AMO launched five Manufacturing USA Institutes, the Critical Materials Hub, and hundreds of small R&D and technical assistance projects across the Nation. He also worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology for over 16 years, leading and performing research in advanced manufacturing. He has been an instructor for the Johns Hopkins University Engineering for Professionals program for graduate-level studies in manufacturing engineering since 2001. He is a SME Fellow and a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He received his doctorate in engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Master of Science in Manufacturing Engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.


Dale Lombardo
Manufacturing Technology
General Electric Research

Dale Lombardo leads a diverse team of manufacturing technologists working across GE’s broad product portfolio. His team links materials to design to customers through a variety of processes including machining, joining, and inspection. Dale’s team expands the envelope of conventional manufacturing and incorporates novel and non-conventional methods (e.g. electro-thermal, electro-chemical, and lasers) into GE’s toolkit of how its parts are or will be made. Dale graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with both BS & MSME with a specialization in Mechatronics & Controls. He joined GE Global Research developing control strategies for machining as a special process for GE Aviation. After that, Dale worked for GE Aviation and expanded to more general in-process machining monitoring and led GE’s Shot Peening Special Process team globally for GE jet engines and co-chaired the startup of the PRI/Nadcap criteria for peening special process supplier supervision still in use today. Dale was then part of a Manufacturing Technology startup organization within the GE Power business and expanded his surface treatment technologies expertise to include surface finishing and surface measurement. Dale is a member of the ASME B46 committee on Surface Texture. He holds multiple patents in a broad array of manufacturing related disciplines. Dale lives in upstate New York where he is also a volunteer and mentor in the local school district and supports STEM activities through Invention Convention. Dale represents GE for RPI’s MILL: Manufacturing Innovation Learning Laboratory and supports their Senior Capstone Design class.


John A. Main
Program Manager
Defense Sciences Office
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

John Main is currently a Program Manager in the Defense Sciences Office at DARPA where he is responsible for initiating new research programs in the physical sciences and fostering the communities that support those programs. Previously, John worked at technology startup Intific Inc., initially as an Executive Producer developing software products and ultimately as the company’s first Chief Operating Officer. His academic credentials include stints as an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Kentucky and an Assistant Professor at the University of Maine. He also founded Precision Systems and Instrumentation LLC in 2001, which is a company that designs, manufactures, sells, and supports instrument systems used in spinal cord and head trauma injury research. John received his Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University and his Bachelor of Science in physics and mathematics from Western Kentucky University. In 2008, John was awarded the Office of Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service.


Kristy Pottol
Strategic Development
DEKA Research and Development

Kristy Pottol works at DEKA Research and Development to speed health security projects for Health and Human Services priorities. Kristy comes to DEKA after a long career serving the Department of Defense. Recent highlights include Regenerative Medicine Project Manager and development of an advanced tissue biofabrication Manufacturing USA program. Kristy is a certified Defense Acquisition Professional Program Management Level 3 and Project Management Professional. She has worked in project management, biotechnology product development, FDA quality systems, business operations, and strategic communications for over 15 years and has an extensive and varied background in product development projects for militarily-relevant medical solutions from vaccines to devices. Kristy is a former US Navy Hospital Corpsman. She holds a MBA from Regis University, a MS in Accounting with emphasis on Information Systems from the UNC Wilmington, and a BS Physics with an emphasis in biophysics from East Carolina University.


A. Adele Ratcliff
Director, Industrial Base Analysis & Sustainment (IBAS) Program
Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (ODASD) for Industrial Policy (IndPol)
Department of Defense

Adele Ratcliff is currently the Director of the Industrial Base Analysis & Sustainment (IBAS) Program within the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (ODASD) for Industrial Policy (IndPol). During her tenure in Office of the Secretary of Defense, she has focused on building strong interagency partnerships to address broad transition of manufacturing issues such as manufacturing readiness and the Advanced Manufacturing Enterprise. Her current position uses the broad authorities of the IBAS program element to enable a modern Industrial Base that integrates traditional and emerging sectors to be able to respond at will to National Security Requirements. Most recently, as the Director of the DoD Manufacturing Technology (ManTech) Program, Adele led the effort in establishing the DoD’s national Manufacturing Innovation Institutes (MIIs), now known as Manufacturing USA Institutes, outlined in the President’s 2013 State of the Union address. She has a long acquisition career, including Program Manager for the congressionally mandated Defense Acquisition Challenge Program, Deputy Program Manager for the Foreign Comparative Test Program, and more than eleven years in Air Force Test and Evaluation at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. As Test Manager, she guided the Air Force’s Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser test program (better known as WCMD), from prototype through the production and deployment phase of the Platform, earning her the Air Force Materiel Command Test Engineer of the Year Award. More importantly, her efforts transitioned this Platform to support the Warfighter in the initial phases of Operation Enduring Freedom. She is a proud alumnus of the Mississippi State University Bulldogs, earning a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1988. In 2011 she graduated from the U.S. Army War College (in-residence) earning a MS in Strategic Art and graduated from the DoD’s Defense Senior Leadership Development Program (DSLDP). She received the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) Award for Excellence for her support of the Pilot Institute for Additive Manufacturing in March 2013.


Ralph Resnick
President and Chief Executive Officer, NCDMM
Founding Director, America Makes

Ralph Resnick joined NCDMM in September 2008 as Vice President, Chief Technology Officer with over 35 years of manufacturing experience. The NCDMM is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 company whose mission is to proactively engage with all branches of the U.S. military and its industrial base to control cost and improve productivity and performance of manufactured parts and assemblies. He assumed President & Executive Director in May 2011 and led the NCDMM to winning the competitive National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) contract. Upon award, he also assumed the role of Acting Director of America Makes (formerly known as NAMII) until February 2013 when the new director was appointed. Prior to joining NCDMM, he served as Chief Technology Officer for both The Ex One Corporation and Extrude Hone where he helped establish Extrude Hone and Ex One as leaders in advanced manufacturing. He holds several patents in manufacturing processes and metrology. He serves on the Board of Directors of SME and former member of SME’s International Awards and Recognition Committee. In 2010, he received the NAMRI/SME “Outstanding Lifetime Service Award”. He also serves on the Board of the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT); MTConnect Institute Board of Trustees; Advisory Board for CANRIMT and HI-AM Network of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; Former Board member of the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS); the Louisiana Center for Manufacturing Sciences (LCMS); Former Chairman of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA); NIST Smart Machining Consortium; Navy Metalworking Center’s (NMC) Industry Advisory Board; DoD’s JDMTP Metals Subpanel; and the prestigious International Institution for Production Engineering Research (CIRP). Locally, he is active in the Board of Directors for the Central Allegheny Challenger Learning Center (CACLC) in Indiana County; the Westmoreland-Fayette Workforce Investment Board; and the Westmoreland Heritage Trail.


Phil Szuromi
Deputy Editor for Physical Sciences, Science Magazine

Phillip Szuromi received his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Harvey Mudd College in 1980 and his PhD in chemistry from Cal Tech in 1985. His research at Cal Tech with Henry Weinberg focused on catalytic reactions of hydrocarbon molecules. He then had a postdoctoral position with Ted Madey at NIST in Gaithersburg, MD, exploring Fischer-Tropsch reactions. He came to Science in 1986, where he is now a Deputy Editor. He currently handles papers in chemistry, physics, and materials science, but over the years he has also covered atmospheric science, biochemistry, and structural biology. He also works in the Insights section of the magazine, where he solicits and edits Perspectives. In 2004, he was made a AAAS Fellow in Chemistry.


Anand Tanikella
Vice President R&D
Saint Gobain Abrasives Worldwide

Anand Tanikella is currently the worldwide Vice President of R&D for Saint Gobain Abrasives based in Massachusetts, USA. Prior to this, Anand was the founding Director of Saint Gobain Research India, a newly setup 7th transversal R&D center in Chennai, India. Anand joined Saint-Gobain in 1996 in USA as a Senior Research Engineer in Saint Gobain North American R&D Center in Northborough, MA in Boston area. He held various positions with increasing responsibilities during the past 21 years conducting breakthrough R&D in technologies related to ceramics, abrasives, plastics and various construction materials. He is passionate about Technology management and bringing out profitable Innovations, as well as about influencing the Impact of Engineering Education on Industrial Innovation. Anand received a Ph.D. in Materials Science & Engineering and Precision Engineering from North Carolina State University in 1996 and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Andhra University, India. He has authored numerous international journal publications and holds over 15 patent families with several in process. Throughout his career, he has been active in technology education and was a part time faculty member at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.


John Vickers
Principal Technologist
Space Technology Mission Directorate
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

John Vickers serves as the principal technologist in the area of advanced materials and manufacturing within the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. He also serves as the associate director of the Materials and Processes Laboratory at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and as the manager of NASA’s National Center for Advanced Manufacturing with operations in Huntsville, Alabama and New Orleans, Louisiana. He has over 30 years of experience in materials and manufacturing -- research and development, engineering, and production operations for propulsion, spacecraft, and scientific space systems. As principal technologist, he leads the nationwide NASA team to develop advanced manufacturing technology strategies to achieve the goals of NASA’s missions. He is the Agency representative to the National Science and Technology Council, Subcommittee on Advanced Manufacturing and the Subcommittee on Critical and Strategic Mineral Supply Chains. He is a founding member of the Manufacturing USA - National Network for Manufacturing Innovation program and the Interagency Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office. His many awards include NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal, NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal and the AIAA Holger Toftoy award. He is a fellow of SME. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.


Stephen A. Walls
Senior Production Engineer and Technical Fellow
The Boeing Company

Steve Walls provides production engineering build architecture expertise that advances production technologies and supports the long-term vision of the company and the Boeing engineering and scientific communities. In this role he advances design processes to enable advanced product and production system definition and development. For 30 years Steve has provided definition and advances in the specialty field of large scale structural integration of commercial transports (747, 767, 777, and 787) – specifically dimensional engineering and management. Steve’s current technical focus is in the application of systems engineering science to the new design of full scope production system architecture for commercial air transport development programs. Specifically this includes adaption of Petri Net modeling for developing and analyzing a worldwide distributed production system, establishment of a multi-domain production system analytical framework in support of design maturity and trade study efforts, and establishing a baseline system concepts definition for Boeing Production Systems, culminating in a rich validated set of Production System requirements and measures.