ARL scientist maximizes in career field
June 11, 2009
- Senior Scientist status reached by ARL employee
After a long-standing professional career at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, a ballistics researcher was recently selected to become a senior scientist, or ST, the highest level in government service in his career field.
Dr. Brad Forch served as a supervisory research physicist and chief of the Propulsion Science Branch at the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate for 15 of his 24 years at ARL before his ST selection.
"I was surprised when I got selected," said Forch, who holds a doctorate in physical chemistry and chemical physics from Wayne State University in Detroit. "This will be an opportunity to do more things."
According to the Office of Personnel Management Web site, an ST selectee is expected to have a graduate degree, significant research experience and a national or international reputation in his or her field. An ST must also demonstrate he or she is sought as an advisor and consultant on scientific and technological problems that extend beyond his or her specialty.
Since 1986, Forch has given more than 300 scientific, technical, research and leadership presentations to almost every audience in his career field as well as all levels of Army and Department of Defense leadership. But, when he became branch chief in 1994, he said he would never put his name in his team's publications. He said that as leader, he wanted to "push them out front" and allow them to excel.
"The best thing you can do is step in the background and let them do it," he said. "I like to jump-start people, discover what they can do, stay in touch and pass it off."
As an ST, Forch said he will be free from most of the administrative work a normal supervisor is expected to perform, so he will be able to focus on mentoring other scientists.
He said he enjoys his job so much that he hasn't taken a vacation since 1990 and has worked more than 1,500 days straight.
"I really believe in what I'm doing," he said.
In his career field but outside the laboratory, Forch serves on executive committees and is involved with outreach mentoring.
"I have lots of interactions on the outside to leverage technology for ARL," he said. "I think that's really important."
As an ST, Forch also automatically became an ARL Fellow, which is an exclusive group of scientists who excel in their technical proficiencies and have a positive influence on the organization.
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory provides innovative science, technology and analyses to enable a full-spectrum of military operations. It serves as the bridge between the scientific and technical communities and the Army and is the leader in providing innovative solutions for the current and future Warfighter.