Dennis Bushnell

Chief Scientist, NASA Langley Research Center

As chief scientist at the NASA Langley Research Center, Dennis Bushnell is responsible for technical oversight and advanced program formulation, with an emphasis on atmospheric sciences and structures, materials, acoustics, flight electronics / control / software, instruments, aerodynamics, aerothermodynamics, hypersonic airbreathing propulsion, computational sciences, and systems optimization for aeronautics, spacecraft, exploration, and space access.

During his 52-year career as a research scientist, section head, branch head, associate division chief, and chief scientist, Dennis has authored over 250 publications and/or major presentations. Has received six patents, including serrated trailing edges for improving lift and drag characteristics of lifting surfaces, a polymer / riblet combination for hydrodynamic skin friction reduction, a channel-wing system for thrust deflection and force / moment generation, and a powder-fed sheared dispersal particle generator. His technical specialties include flow modeling and control across the speed range, advanced configuration aeronautics, aeronautical facilities, advanced power and energy, planetary exploration, and hypersonic airbreathing propulsion.

Dennis is a member of the National Academy of Engineering; a Fellow of ASME, AIAA, and the Royal Aeronautical Society; and a member of the TechCast Panel, a group of international experts engaged in technology forecasting. He holds numerous awards and distinctions from governmental agencies, professional societies, and academia, and has served many national and international organizations as a consultant or committee member. He has served as reviewer and editor for 40 journals and organizations and has made seminal contributions in the area of biofuels / biomass as petroleum replacements, sourced from wastelands and saline / waste water via halophytes and algae.

Dennis developed the "riblet" approach to turbulent drag reduction, high-speed "quiet tunnels" for flight-applicable boundary layer transition research, advanced computational approaches for laminar flow control, regenerative aerobraking for Martian entry, electron-beam free-form fabrication, and advanced hypervelocity airbreathing and aeronautical concepts with revolutionary performance potential. He has contributed to national programs including Sprint, HSCT/SST, FASTSHIP, Gemini, Apollo, RAM, Viking, X15, F-18E/F [patent holder for the "fix" to the wing drop problem], Shuttle, NASP, submarine / torpedo technology, Americas' Cup racers, Navy rail gun, MAGLEV trains, and planetary exploration.

Over some 20 years, Dennis has presented more than 30 invited briefs per year on the futures of technology, energetics, propulsion, sensors, space access, space exploration, aeronautics, warfare, threat / vulnerabilities, robotics / smart materials, and education to the US Intelligence Community; US, Canadian, and NATO national security organizations; government agencies and organizations, corporate planning boards, and universities.

Dennis originated and organizes a yearly workshop for the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) on future technology / warfare, out of which has grown the Army "Red Franchise," the preferred national security future operating environment utilized by the US Army, Navy, and Joint Forces Command. The USAF modeled its "Discovery Games" on these TRADOC workshops.

Dennis earned a BS with highest honors in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Connecticut (1963) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Virginia (1967). He won the Lawrence A. Sperry Award in 1975 and also has won the AIAA Fluid and Plasma Dynamics Award as well as the AIAA Dryden Lectureship, and he is the recipient of many NASA medals for outstanding scientific achievement and leadership.


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