Postdoc Spotlight: Lt. Col. Krystal Murphy & Maj. Matt Michaud

Lieutenant Colonel Krystal Murphy and Major Matthew Michaud are United States Air Force (USAF) Fellows performing research at Argonne. The two serve as liaisons between the Department of Defense (DoD) and Argonne. They are part of a unique fellowship program to identify opportunities for scientific collaboration between Argonne and the DoD.

The Air Force sends approximately 130 officers to fellowships each year. There are two fellows per national laboratory; several with Congress and some at civilian organizations like RAND, Brookings and the Institute for Defense Analysis.

Lieutenant Colonel Krystal Murphy is a Bioenvironmental Engineer or BEE. BEEs are responsible for the Air Force’s occupational and environmental health programs. She is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and holds a master of science in endocrinology from Arizona State University. She has worked at the U.S. Strategic Command Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction as a technical adviser and strategic planner for chemical and biological threats. She has been with the Air Force for 25 years.

Major Matthew Michaud earned his commission in the Officer Training School and is an Air Force pilot. He went to Minnesota State University for his undergraduate degree and he holds a master’s degree in aviation safety from the University of Central Missouri. He has worked as a civilian flight instructor and meteorologist for the National Weather Service and has served as an instructor pilot in the B-2 division of the USAF Weapons School. He has been with the Air Force for almost 18 years.

The Air Force is probably the most dependent branch of the military on science, technology, engineering and math. It relies on scientists and engineers to design, sustain and upgrade USAF programs and weapons systems. It employs some of the most advanced composite materials in stealth aircraft that is possible due to rigorous scientific research by material scientists. Most of the active-duty career fields in the USAF are science-centric as well. Every Air Force pilot must have a good, working understanding of meteorology, physics and aerodynamics, especially combat pilots.

The USAF also operates the Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL) and the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT). The AFRL’s mission is much like Argonne’s since it is a research laboratory too. It is, however, chartered to discover, develop and integrate technologies specifically for the Air Force’s air, space and cyberspace segments.

AFRL is responsible for several discoveries and advancements in human performance, human factors, directed energy, aerospace, civil and environmental engineering and advanced materials. AFRL scientists are currently working on acquiring alternative fuels and engineering aircraft to burn them. AFIT is a graduate school of engineering and management as well as an institution for specialized education. It belongs to Air University, the same organization that operates the USAF fellowship program.

The Air Force has provided both Lieutenant Colonel Krystal Murphy and Major Matthew Michaud opportunities to serve their country while performing scientific research. The USAF fellows program has allowed them to further their personal and professional development as commissioned officers while expanding a partnership between Argonne and the DoD.

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