Senior Research Scientist Dr. Scott Schoenfeld named as a Meritorious Rank recipient of the 2023 Presidential Rank Awards
ADELPHI, Md. – The U.S. Office of Personnel Management recently announced the names of senior-level federal employees chosen by President Joe Biden for the 2023 Presidential Rank Awards, one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for career civil servants.
Among the recipients for the award was Dr. Scott Schoenfeld, senior research scientist in Terminal Ballistics for the U.S. Army and chief scientist of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory.
“I am deeply overwhelmed and humbled by my selection,” Schoenfeld said. “I see the award as recognition of countless individuals across DEVCOM and the Army who are dedicated to seeing research transition into capability for our warfighters.”
The annual Presidential Rank Awards, first established in 1978 as part of the Civil Service Reform Act, serve to recognize the outstanding accomplishments and exceptional leadership of career senior leaders across the federal government.
As the administrator of this award program, OPM evaluates the nominees in the Senior Executive Service, Senior-Level, and Scientific and Professional corps and recommends finalists to the President, who selects the recipients.
The award has two categories, distinguished rank and the meritorious rank. No more than one percent of the entire senior career federal workforce receives the former, and no more than five percent receives the latter.
This year, out of 232 Presidential Rank Award winners selected across 31 agencies, Schoenfeld was one of three meritorious rank recipients from DEVCOM.
“Each of these executives has made invaluable contributions to the command and the Army,” said Brig. Gen. John Cushing, commanding general of DEVCOM. “They exemplify the highest standards of technical excellence and leadership acumen that underpin our continued efforts to accelerate technology and deliver next-generation Soldier capabilities to ensure overmatch for a lethal Army.”
Schoenfeld’s contributions to the Army and the federal government mainly pertain to his leadership in the field of terminal ballistics, a research area that examines the behavior and effects of a projectile as it transfers its energy to a target.
Throughout his Army career, he helmed programs that investigated how materials and structures respond to blast, impact and penetration events, which advanced the development of new types of protection technologies for Soldiers.
For his scientific expertise and leadership, Schoenfeld received numerous honorary awards, including the Department of the Army Meritorious Civilian Service Award, a Department of Army Research and Development Award for Leadership Excellence and two Army Greatest Invention awards.
“Taking my work seriously without taking myself too seriously has helped me get to where I am today,” Schoenfeld said. “We have an incredibly important mission; lives depend on it, and we have been given incredible resources across the enterprise to pursue that mission. Our sense of worth comes from this mission, and it can be inspiring, but it can also be a lot of fun. So, I remain dedicated but have a lot of fun with it.”
In March 2019, Army leaders appointed Schoenfeld as the senior research scientist for terminal ballistics to further accelerate the Army’s development of superior, lightweight armor technology.
Having just recently assumed the position of DEVCOM ARL chief scientist in October 2023, Schoenfeld now provides independent science advice as a member of the ARL Board of Directors and is responsible for the laboratory’s top-level scientific and technical strategy.
“The world now is in a very different place of peer-competition,” he said. “The country and the lab are feeling the pressures to adapt and compete. I think DEVCOM ARL is agile, dedicated and ideally suited toward this competition. I want to see our agility flourish in a sustained way to meet the challenges ahead.”
As the Army's foundational research laboratory, ARL is operationalizing science to achieve transformational overmatch. Through collaboration across the command’s core technical competencies, DEVCOM leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more successful at winning the nation’s wars and come home safely. DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of the Army Futures Command.