December 28, 2009
By Manivanh Chanprasith
A senior research geophysicist at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center has received the U.S. Department of Defense’s highest award for civilian career employees.
Dr. Jason McKenna of the Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory at ERDC is one of six recipients of the Department of Defense’s Distinguished Civilian Service Award, in its 54th year. He is the only Army winner.
“When I first heard I’d won the award, I was sure it was a mistake,” McKenna said in an e-mail. “This is such an incredible honor for someone so early in their government career. I think of this award as recognition from the highest levels of the DOD that the problem sets my team and I are working are relevant and have tangible benefits to the war fighter.”
McKenna, who began his ERDC career four years ago at the research facility in the former GSL Earthquake Geology and Geophysics branch, was recognized for his contributions to the safety and welfare of defense personnel worldwide from August 2005 through March.
He helped research and develop products for detecting and defeating clandestine tunneling, in an effort to ensure security at U.S. borders.
The products made as a result of the technology are under consideration by the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Additionally, he leads a Joint Improvised Explosive Devices Defeat Organization-sponsored team.
“My team and I have been working border security and counter-IED issues for the U.S. government, as well as our international strategic partners,” McKenna said. “The technology we are developing and fielding has had a significant impact in areas of contingency operations and had delivered capability to the war fighter and federal law enforcement where none existed before.”
While at ERDC, McKenna has served as a research assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he received his master’s and doctorate in geophysics. He holds a bachelor’s in geophysics from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
He is also an adjunct professor at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, an adjunct scientist at the Kansas Geological Survey and a representative for the Society of Exploration Geophysics District 3.
A registered professional geologist in Alaska and a certified professional geologist, McKenna is the founder and president of Mineral, Environmental, Geophysical, Hydrological Analysis Inc., based in Greensboro, N.C.
His awards include the Department of the Army Achievement Medal for Civilian Service, the ERDC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Technology Transfer and the ERDC Herbert Vogel Award for Scientist of the Year.
He is a member of the American Institute of Professional Geologists, Geothermal Resources Council, Society of Exploration Geophysics, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Seismological Society of America and the American Geophysical Union.
# # #