2018 Award Recipients

2018 Arthur S. Flemming Award Winners


Dr. John D. Bolten, Research Physical Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland
For achieving advances in applying satellite remote sensing, land surface modeling, and data assimilation for water resources management, agricultural forecasting, and flood monitoring and impact assessment.  Recent examples of Dr. Bolten’s work include satellite data assimilation -based soil moisture maps that are used operationally by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, and the first maps based on data from NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) to be available on Google Earth Engine.  In addition to his own renowned research as a principal investigator, Dr. Bolten has guided dozens of projects in his role as Associate Program Manager, Water Resources, within NASA’s Applied Sciences Program.  He demonstrates exceptional creativity in conceiving novel approaches to complex, applied scientific problems and is highly regarded in the community, as evidenced by frequent requests to give keynote lectures at prominent domestic and international meetings and his nomination to and service on the National Research Council’s Decadal Survey for Earth Science and Applications from Space in 2017, which will guide NASA’s Earth Science mission priorities in the 2020s.

Dr. Feng Gao, Research Physical Scientist at Agricultural Research Service/US Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, Maryland
In recognition of his original research in the application of remote sensing for crop and vegetation monitoring.  Dr. Gao is internationally acclaimed for his development of multiple high-impact remote sensing algorithms and tools that have advanced research related to the scaling of hydrologic states and fluxes, and land-atmosphere processes, as well as operational monitoring and decision tools for agriculture.  For his expertise and contributions, he has been selected to serve on two key NASA/USGS satellite science teams (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer-MODIS and Landsat) for five collective term. Dr. Gao is internationally recognized as a leading expert on remote sensing data fusion, which facilitates daily mapping of land-surface conditions at fine spatial scales and is capable of monitoring individual agricultural fields by fusing information from multiple satellites. His novel techniques for integrating satellite remote sensing date from NASA, USGS, NOAA and the European Space Agency into useful and robust date products have been adopted by state-of-the-art land surface models and have had immediate and significant impact on improving agricultural modeling and monitoring.  

Dr. R. Joseph Kline, Materials Research Engineer at National Institute of Standards and Technology – Department of Commerce in Gaithersburg, Maryland
For his outstanding federal service through interdisciplinary research in the evolution of methods to determine the complex, three-dimensional structure of advanced state-of-the-art structures needed for today’s semiconductor industry and the molecular structure and orientation of organic electronics materials for flexible electronics.  These methods have had an enormous impact through providing the insight needed to design organic materials that can be used in high performance, low-cost devices, a viable method to provide the semi-conductor industry the ability to measure the complex structures they manufacture.  Dr. Kline’s work spans a breadth of topics, including the structure of organic electronics materials, X-ray scattering, synchrotron measurement methods, materials properties, and self-assembling materials.  Through his exceptional scientific work and close interactions with industry, Dr. Kline has had a lasting impact on electronics materials research in the United States and around the world.


Dr. John P. Florian, Senior Research Physiologist and Biomedical Research Program Manager at Navy Experimental Diving Unit, US Navy in Panama City, Florida
For his outstanding leadership of multi-agency collaborative efforts in the areas of human performance, diving physiology, oxygen toxicity, thermoregulation, ad biometric monitoring to advance warfighter safety, performance and mission completion.  Dr. Florian has consistently excelled as a high level performer though his multidisciplinary work as scientist; exceptional leadership as head of Warfighter Human Performance research; and demonstrated passion and commitment to expanding our Navy’s advantage through innovation and collaboration with US and international partners.  His pioneering work has led to a new focus in understanding and resolving whole-body oxygen toxicity, a condition that adversely affects diver and SEAL physiological performance after breathing high levels of oxygen during diving operations.  Over the past year he completed seminal work on the effects of hyperoxia on multiple organ systems while also encapsulating recovery times for the whole-body toxicity to facilitate reinsertion to duty.  His work has also advanced complex thermoregulatory principles to support coldwater operations.  He continues to push the boundaries of science though scholarly publications, while also providing mission-critical guidance to protect our warfighters.

Dr. Khanh D. Pham, Senior Aerospace Engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate, Air Force Materiel Command in Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico
In recognition of his pioneering contributions to statistical optimal control theory and game-theoretic operations research for space situational awareness and military communications, the key to making space autonomy and assured satellite communications an integral part of tomorrow’s airspace.  Dr. Pham is a Fellow of the Society of Photo-Optical and Instrumentation Engineers, an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He is the principal scientific authority and independent researcher in satellite command and control autonomy, assured communications and space situational awareness. He is a pioneer in theory and operations research related to space situational awareness and military communications, which affect military satellite communications. Dr. Pham holds 20 U.S. patents for his work. Thanks to his tremendous research skills he is regarded as a top performer within the US Air Force.


Deepa Avula, Director, Office of Financial Resources at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Rockville, Maryland
For consistently achieving remarkable results, in the face of a national crisis of opioid addiction and other behavioral health priorities, throughout her career with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA), as a strategic and creative problem-solver, an insightful administrator who moves beyond the numbers to inspire cooperation and collaboration across SAMSHA.  Ms. Avula’s ingenuity, innovation and creativity combined with her dedication and commitment to public service have yielded tremendous success which has benefited so many.  She revolutionized the use of data for performance management and changed business practices in the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, leading the effort to consolidate 17 disparate contracts into a single repository for data collection and reporting to monitor the Center’s $350M in discretionary grant spending. She partnered with other SAMSHA Centers to assist them in developing and implementing some of the practices and strategies implemented in her own Center.  Ms. Avula was called upon to manage successfully a $100M Presidential Initiative, a revolutionary, complex program designed to put the choice of provider back into the hands of the client who received services for substance abuse disorders.  She received special recognition from the White House Office for Faith-Based Affairs for her work leading this program.  In addition, her superlative management skills have led to optimization of technology to streamline grant development processing; elimination of waste and fraud; simplified risk assessment; and have played a key role in SAMSHA’s response to the national crisis of opioid abuse and addiction.

Elizabeth Argeris Lewis, Communications Analyst at the National Science Foundation – Office of Inspector General in Morristown, New Jersey & Alexandria, Virginia
For her outstanding success as an influencer, leader, and innovator throughout her government career.  Ms. Lewis constantly strives for process improvement, leads change, and sets the standard for success in each organization in which she works.  Her most recent effort in changing a long-standing, congressionally mandated report on Management Challenges is a glowing example of her skills in helping to move the government to the future.  The change was significant and received laudatory comments from the Director of the National Science Foundation and was featured on ABC-7’s Government Matters television program.  Ms. Lewis’s new format, which helped more clearly define management challenges facing the agency, actions taken to address the challenges and remaining steps in a visually appealing, concise way, caught the attention of agency leadership, congressional staffers, and other senior leaders in the Inspector General community – increasing participation in her movement to make IG reports understandable, approachable, and accessible for the public and other stakeholders.  This is just one example of her “readers first” mentality and drive that have changed government reports from the traditional, dense, data-filled documents to concise, readable, well-messaged products; her initiative and use of social media to get messages out has been masterful; and her tenacious pursuit of change in the face of opposition is remarkable.

Brittney R. Soltes, National Disaster Program Manager for the US Army Corps of Engineers in the New York District
For her excellent leadership and management of the Inspection of Completed Works program for New York District.  The purpose of the program is to inform non-Federal partners of the status and condition of flood risk management levees or hurricane and shore protection projects to ensure those efforts are still eligible for repair if they are damaged by a storm event under the Public Law 84-99 program.  Ms. Soltes has developed an improved process to significantly shorten the timeframe from over a year down to just weeks for obtaining the inspection reports from the engineers performing the inspection and reporting the condition status for these projects to our non-Federal partners.  This improvement in communication is important for our partners so they can be immediately aware of any major risks to these projects and quickly and efficiently plan for any needed repairs.  The non-Federal partners have consistently emphasized how much they appreciate the improvement of this process over the situation that previously prevailed.


Lt. Col. Matthew D. Talcott, Military Judge with the USAF / Air Force Trial Judiciary (Central Circuit) at Joint Base San Antonio in Randolph, Texas
For his extraordinary legal achievements and work, which have left an indelible mark on the Air Force criminal justice system.  Lt. Col. Talcott distinguished himself as Judge Advocate in the Air Force from 2005 through 2018.  As a young JAG, Col. Talcott was recognized as a phenomenal advocate, rising to be the top advocate in each and every position he held from 2007 through 2013.  Thereafter, his singularly remarkable skills were revealed at the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s School where he was not only the #1 instructor but also garnered historic and “landscape changing” appellate victories for all victims through unequaled writing and advocacy.  He was selected to develop an advanced training course for the Air Force’s most senior litigators, focusing on sexual assault litigation; this course would become the Advanced Sexual Assault Litigation Course in 2014 and is the Department of Defense’s only course designed to educate the experienced advocate on the nuances and difficult challenges  faced when prosecuting and defending sexual assault cases.  Unintimidated, as a new trial judge, Col. Talcott has expertly managed the Air Force’s online Judges’ Benchbook, an online publication utilized by the entire judiciary and advocates across the Air Force.

Laura A. Thoms, Senior Attorney at the US Department of Justice, Environmental Enforcement Section in Washington, D.C.
For using her highly skilled, legal talents to achieve remarkable success in prosecuting violations of the Clean Water Act by actors in the coal industry.  Seizing upon extensive violations of the law committed by several major coal producers all across Appalachia, Ms. Thoms engineered one of the most successful environmental enforcement campaigns in the history of the federal Clean Water Act.  Working with the US Environmental Protection Agency, the State of West Virginia, and the Commonwealths of Pennsylvania and Kentucky, Ms. Thoms redressed the violations of the federal Clean Water Act by seven companies, which represent about 50% of all coal production in Appalachia.  Her work addressed tens of thousands of violations of law.  Her efforts: required company improvements that will foster compliance with the applicable federal and state laws at an estimated cost of $412M; collected $55M in civil penalties; and should reduce water pollution by 150 million pounds.


Rebecca S. Dodder, Senior Physical Scientist at the Office of Research and Development, US Environmental Protection Agency in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
For her innovative techniques and leadership which have allowed EPA and the Nation to better understand the links between the production and use of energy and the full impacts on the environment and public health.  Ms. Dodder’s new way of thinking offers real-world approaches to addressing complex energy challenges.  She has advanced EPA energy-economic-environment modeling tools to assess a range of energy issues: biofuels and biomass; agricultural-energy market linkages; water use for energy; lifecycle impacts of vehicle design; and emission impacts of vehicle automation.  Dr. Dodder’s unique systems-oriented approach has made her a sought-after expert within and outside EPA.  She has dedicated her time and creativity to advance outreach to communities.  Her development of an educational board game turns the complexities of balancing energy costs and environmental impacts into a fun, engaging learning opportunity.  Through workshops, webinars and an on-line presence, the Generate game has been used by tens of thousands of students and educators and has now gone global.

Dr. Amy L. Vincent, Research Veterinary Medical Officer at the Agricultural Research Service/ US Department of Agriculture in Ames, Iowa
For her contributions identifying unique and emerging Influenza A virus (IAV) genotypes and championing establishment of a national swine IAV surveillance system.  IAV infects many hosts, with evidence that viruses with human and/or avian influenza virus genes frequently infect pigs, underscoring the need to continually monitor and study these viruses in swine.  Dr. Vincent led establishment of a surveillance system through pioneering collaborations between the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), USDA-ARS and USDA-APHIS that prepared USDA for launching a national surveillance system in response to emergence of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus and continued engagement with CDC on zoonotic infections of swine viruses.  Dr. Vincent’s research revealed the antigenic impact of genetic evolution of IAV and established a global context in swine.  Major antigenic epitopes were identified in swine IAV and established antigenic relationships of swine and human IAV. She led establishment of a global IAV nomenclature system that facilitates vaccine strain selection, comparisons between global regions, between hosts, and viral evolution insights.