ARL's First Chief Scientist Brings Decades of Multiservice, International Perspective to Laboratory
April 13, 2010
ARL has welcomed back Dr. C.I. "Jim" Chang, the former Army Research Office director who is now the laboratory's first chief scientist.
With more than three decades of service working for DoD and NASA, Chang said he's excited to come back to ARL in his new position, where he will focus mainly on two goals - bringing more technology innovation and international perspective into the laboratory.
Director John Miller said Chang was "looking for a big challenge," and Miller has full confidence that he will be a great asset to the laboratory. Chang is a true renaissance man with an "interesting perspective" who challenges scientists to be their best, Miller added.
"Dr. Chang is very well respected by S&T executives in all services in DoD," said Miller. "He has a tremendous depth and breadth of experience in science and technology."
Chang's experience includes being dual-hatted as the ARO director and ARL deputy director for basic science from 1998-2006; adjunct professor at North Carolina State University; director of Aerospace and Materials Sciences Directorate, Air Force Office of Scientific Research from 1990-1998; chief scientist, Naval Air Systems Command from 1988-1989; and head of the Structural Integrity Branch, Naval Research Laboratory.
A prolific researcher with more than 40 refereed journal publications, Chang is an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics fellow and sat on the editorial advisory board for its Journal of Propulsion and Power. He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Theoretical and Applied Fracture Mechanics, one of many examples of his professional accomplishments.
"That's a big honor," said Miller. "He's very well known and very well respected."
He's rejoining the ARL team after four years working for the Air Force in Tokyo fostering academic and U.S. military collaboration in Asia. With obvious enthusiasm about his job, Chang said working in Tokyo was a great experience that really opened his eyes to the globalization of technology.
"In my four years in Asia, it became apparent that the S&T community has no boundaries. The rest of the world is catching up fast," said Chang, who holds a doctorate in theoretical and applied mechanics from Cornell University.
With borders and boundaries going by the wayside when it comes to scientific revelations, ARL's relationship with the worldwide network of researchers is extremely important.
"It's such a global (scientific) community, and we want to take advantage of all the good ideas, wherever they come from," said Miller. "Dr. Chang will help us better engage and leverage international partnerships and develop ARL's international portfolio in science and technology."
Along with Chang's recent experience in Asia, Miller said he expects ARL's new chief scientist to use his "extremely intelligent, inquisitive and creative" personality to drive innovations in research.
"He makes (scientists) think," Miller said.
Chang said it's important to bring what were once independent scientific disciplines together to solve problems that will really help push boundaries to accomplish true innovation.
"We're taking technology and trying to cultivate research and concepts, like life sciences coupled with engineering and physics," said Chang with excitement.
Chang cited as one example the human neural system, which is organic and lightweight. "If we hurt one leg, we already know what to do, but our man-made systems are overweight and can't compensate," he said. "They're not as smart and not self-healing."
Chang explained how using nanotechnology coupled with other disciplines could help overcome these issues and lead to major breakthroughs in robotics. "It's very exciting," he added.
Pushing scientific ingenuity over the edge could not be accomplished without an overwhelming amount of talent, and Chang thinks federal researchers are up for the challenge.
"Military technology needs to be ahead of everybody, and DoD funds the best and brightest people and ideas," said Chang. "I have a great respect for people working in DoD, especially in the S&T communities."