UA professor Dr. Andrew Lemmon receives $500K for US Navy research

Andrew Lemmon
Dr. Andrew Lemmon [Photo Credit: The University of Alabama]

A University of Alabama professor has received half a million dollars from a U.S. Navy award in hopes of advancing the future of Naval ships.

Dr. Andrew Lemmon, UA assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is one of 31 recipients of the prestigious 2018 Young Investigator Program (YIP) from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Awards were given to those whose research holds strong promise across a wide range of naval-relevant science and technology areas.

“To meet the demand signal from the 2018 National Defense Strategy, we must attract the best and brightest minds to work on naval warfighting challenges. The Young Investigator Program does just that, and I’m honored to announce the recipients for 2018,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. David Hahn. “Since 1985, this program has attracted outstanding scientists and engineers from across academia to support our Navy and Marine Corps, and as we return to an era of great power competition, that is more important than ever before.”

The YIP is a highly competitive process, rewarding the achievements made by young faculty members. This year’s candidates were selected amongst more than 340 highly qualified applicants based on past performance, technical merit, potential for scientific breakthrough and long-term university commitment. All are college and university faculty who have obtained tenure-track positions within the past five years.

Lemmon will receive the $500,000 over the course of three years.

“It’s obviously a huge honor, and I feel very fortunate to have received this award,” Lemmon said.

Introduced in 1985, the ONR YIP is one of the nation’s oldest and most selective science and technology basic research programs. Its purpose is to fund early-career academic researchers-called investigators-whose scientific pursuits show outstanding promise for supporting the Department of Defense, while also promoting their professional development. Lemmon is the first faculty member at UA to receive the YIP award since its inception.

“We are very proud of Dr. Lemmon for receiving an ONR Young Investigator Award,” said Dr. Charles Karr, dean of UA’s College of Engineering. “This is a very prestigious award, but one that is well deserved. We are excited about the work Andy does for the Navy.”

According to UA, Lemmon’s research in power electronics is expected to contribute to closing known technology gaps in the Navy’s current 30-year ship building plan. This long-term plan includes a shift toward electric propulsion for some types of U.S. Navy ships, which requires moving to a new power architecture called the Integrated Power System. IPS will enable ship propulsion and other loads to be powered from a common system in order to reduce the total amount of power required.

This system has been in development for several years, and it is where Lemmon’s research ties in. His research team is working with a new generation of high voltage semiconductors made from silicon carbide, or SiC, which is a key enabling technology for future large-scale IPS implementations. The goal of Lemmon’s YIP program is to help the Navy understand and resolve the challenge of electromagnetic interference, or EMI, in systems designed with SiC.

“This is a major challenge, and we can’t yet solve it completely, but we are discovering methods to drastically reduce the amount of electromagnetic interference that is emitted by these devices,” Lemmon explained.