Two graduates from the UNC Charlotte Optical Science and Engineering Ph.D. program have recently been included among thirty-three recipients of the Department of Defense's Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Seed Grants. Joel Solomon and Jonathan Koerber, who both graduated this past spring, received the prestigious award in August for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. As this news article from the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service explains, "The SMART Scholar SEED Grant Program awards research grants worth up to $100,000 per year for a maximum of three years to SMART scholars as they transition from the pursuit of their PhDs to DoD civilians." For FY 2023, a total of $3.7 million in new research grants was announced, comprising "one of the largest science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-focused education and workforce initiatives under DoD STEM, the Department's comprehensive K-20 STEM education and talen development effort."
Joel Solomon received the grant for his work on directed energy as part of the Air Force Research Lab Directed Energy Directorate, while Jonathan Koerber was recognized for his work on directed energy/AI and autonomy within the Naval Surface Warfare Center's Crane Division. The Department of Physics and Optical Science is proud to witness the success and hard work of its former students, and we know that Drs. Solomon and Koerber will continue to excel in their chosen fields.
For students who may be interested in becoming SMART scholars, more information can be found here.