Press Release

Johns Hopkins APL’s Phillip Graff and Adam Watkins Win Top Honors from Maryland Academy of Sciences

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 11:28

The Maryland Academy of Sciences announced the 2017 Outstanding Young Scientist (OYS) and Outstanding Young Engineer (OYE) awards on Wednesday, November 15, at a ceremony at the Maryland Science Center, with Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory staff members taking home two of the four honors (two for each category). Phillip Graff, of the Asymmetric Operations Sector, was named an Outstanding Young Scientist, while Adam Watkins, of the Force Projection Sector, was named an Outstanding Young Engineer.

Graff is a data scientist and astrophysicist. At APL, Graff works to protect America’s computer networks and armed forces, developing algorithms for the Department of Homeland Security National Cyber Protection System as well as U.S. Special Operations Command. In a previous role at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, he was lead developer for a key algorithm for the Laser Interferometry Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO). This directly contributed to the successful detection and characterization of black hole mergers, a landmark achievement in science that demonstrated that gravitational waves as predicted by Einstein’s theory are real.

Watkins, a mechanical and aerospace engineer, has devoted his professional career to developing unmanned and autonomous systems for the defense of our nation and the safety of our sailors and soldiers. He developed a solution to rapidly generate maps of hidden locations where weapons of mass destruction are stored, allowing teams to deploy directly to the suspected material and neutralize the hazard without lengthy exposure. He also led the development of a research effort to demonstrate the potential of autonomous unmanned surface vehicles to protect Navy ships.

The OYS and OYE awards recognize young Maryland residents who have distinguished themselves with accomplishments in science and engineering. The nominations are open to scientists and engineers 35 years old or younger working in academia and 40 or younger working in other sectors. The OYS award was established in 1959 with the OYE award inaugurated in 1988. Award recipients are chosen by members of the Maryland Academy of Sciences’ Scientific Advisory Council.