#BasicResearch Chatter – Q&A with Dr. Shery Welsh

So our last blog post highlighted all of the tweets from our new director, Dr. Shery Welsh, but this time around we’re going to share the questions the were asked during the twitter hour and the answers that Dr. Welsh and our team came up with.

It was a very busy hour last month, because almost as soon as we went live the questions started coming in. We received a total of 19 questions over the hour we were live, and some of these questions required multiple tweets. Those 240 characters really get you sometimes. So without further ado, here are the questions and the answers.

I got my start at the Defense Support System. In 1991, that was the system that detected scud missiles during the first Gulf War. Dr. Welsh, what changes have you witnessed in remote and near sensing and what challenges do you see us tackling next?

From Dr. Yakes — The quality and quantity of EM sensors has been constantly improving, matched with a similar improvement in computational power. This has led to interesting new ideas and data fusion, visualization, and analysis.

We will continue to push these boundaries as well as further investigating hyperspectral and polarimetric imaging and new ideas in degraded or obscured environments. Grant opportunities at Grants.Gov

It has to be an exciting time to lead AFOSR with the challenge of laying the #basicresearch objectives of Space Force.

It is!!! I have worked closely with USSF and I am thrilled to be responsible for their basic research. Our mission domains are space, air, and cyber but we are focused on dedicating investments to make for robust space research to meet the needs of USSF and drive tech push as well.

Please share your thoughts on the AFOSR investments to address emerging scientific challenges. Specifically would there be an opportunity to plan MURIs and other focused initiatives to address these emerging challenges in specific areas.

We are constantly assessing our portfolios for realignment of investments needed to address challenges. We invest in MURIs and many other programs to meet those challenges. Collaborations and new partnerships across the globe are key.

Dr. Welsh, Roscomos announced today a new nanotechnology that self heals damage from micrometeorite collisions. How do we compete when our leadership demonstrates a lack of basic scientific understanding?

It’s incumbent upon us as scientists/engineers to educate our leadership and I can tell you it works! It shouldn’t stop us from competing. I have the authority to drive our portfolios to compete. It can be challenging at times but lean in and keep pushing forward!

How best to work with you to pursue R&D collaborations with industry?

AFRL has great resources for industry/small business: Partner with Us

Small and large businesses are also eligible grant applicants in our Broad Agency Announcement (BAA): Grants.gov

How would the focused future investments align with the Department of Defense modernization priorities? Thank you.

They always have and will continue to do so. Fortunately, I have many demand signals (tech pull), and AFOSR Program Officers are highly regarded and drive the technology push to highlight to USSF and USAF what they’ll need but may not realize.

What do you see in the future for AFR Basic Research? What are the broad aims and goals you want to meet in future funding applications?

I see MORE global partnerships. More workforce development to grow our talent pipeline to attract top talent My goal: remove every “science” roadblock to clear the path for our AFRL and USSF brethren as they mature and advance technologies for the Warfighter.

Good Morning, Dr. Welsh,

I’m curious if you could comment on the whether the AF2030 efforts are still guide future research vision, or if there is a pivot in technical focus with changing leadership?

Yes – AFRL and AFOSR are still working hard to accelerate the S&T 2030 strategy that focuses on game-changing ideas and transitions from basic research to the lab t the field: AFResearchLab.com

AFOSR in particular is expanding the Center of Excellence program which strives to enhance collaborations and generate excitement between AFRL and university researchers in fields important to the future success of the USAF and USSF.


Thanks for providing this opportunity! I’m familiar with NSF reviewing process. Is the reviewing process of AFOSR similar (e.g. through a panel consisting of experts)?

And two bonus questions:

2. Do you think we will ever see co-design between vehicle and munition addressed proactively as a basic research activity?

3. The abrupt change in SBIR/STTR handling, left a number of contractors in an odd middle ground. Can you help? 🙂

After receiving a proposal, AFOSR runs it through a vigorous peer review process looking for technical merit, Air Force relevance, and other criteria based on the requirements of the BAA. For more information, CLICK HERE.

Re: 3. with the strategic move to align AFWERX within the AFRL ecosystem, we hope to be able to streamline processes.

I’m excited to see what the Quantum U Tech Accelerator yields! Will there be other initiatives like that with AFOSR involvement?

YES! We are planning a Space Sciences Summit with USSF and AFRL for October 2020! We have many initiatives and events lined up so continue to follwo us and you’ll hear all about them!!

Welcome to your great leadership position. Is there any plans to expand the research support to HBCU/MI? ROLLTIDE.

ROLLTIDE my friend!! Yes. I have a passion for STEM and the HBCU/MI programs. We MUST continue to invest in these programs and I am. Diversity is key to innovation and we must increase our youth in STEM career fields. We are planning a virtual Roadshow for Fall for HBCU/MIs!

Air Force telephone number, looking for records?

The best place to start is the Air Force Public Affairs.

Be sure to join us next week on September 29, 2020 as we talk to AOARD! The time will be TBD, so be on the lookout on all of our social media channels for the announcement!