ALEXANDRIA, Va.--Recognized for his efforts to promote science and technology to minority youth, Paul Charles, a research chemist with the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), was honored at the 2011 Naval STEM Forum on June 15 in Alexandria, Va.
The June 15-16 forum, which gathered more than 600 leaders in academia, business and the government to collaborate on ways to address U.S. students' declining interest in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, disciplines, was a fitting platform to salute Charles, said Rear Adm. Nevin Carr, the Navy's chief of naval research. Carr leads the Office of Naval Research, NRL's parent organization.
"Paul has played a critical role in increasing the visibility of minority scientists and encouraging minority students to pursue careers in STEM," said Carr, who presented Charles with the 2011 Vice Adm. Samuel L. Gravely Jr. Award. "We are recognizing his leadership of NRL's summer internship program for students from under-represented communities. He is a role model to fellow researchers and to inner-city students."
ONR bestows the Gravely award to a "Champion of the Year for Excellence in STEM Education and Diversity" who has excelled at fostering STEM education and diversity growth to sustain and expand future generations of students in the Naval Research Enterprise science and technology workforce.
Gravely was the first African-American to command a U.S. Navy warship, an American warship under combat conditions and a major naval warship. He also was the first African-American admiral, vice admiral and U.S. Fleet commander. In 2009, the Navy christened an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer in his name.
"Gravely's efforts to promote diversity and STEM education and to expand the Naval Research Enterprise science and technology workforce exemplified the type of leader he was," Charles said. "It's thrilling to know that I can continue his legacy and beliefs with the HBCU/MI program. I take pride in trying to provide the same opportunities to our youth so they, too, can follow in Gravely's footsteps one day and be a 'first.'"
Charles oversees NRL summer internship program's Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Minority Institutions/Tribal Colleges and Universities component, including strategic planning, recruitment and budget activities. To date, the program has provided training opportunities and role models for more than 200 students considering careers in STEM-related areas.
"As a nation, we have proven ourselves worldwide to be leaders in the [science and technology] field, however, we must continue to strengthen our workforce by mentoring our youth," Charles said. "Brilliant ideas can resonate from all minds, regardless of race, color or gender. By investing in our youth today, we can remain as leaders in exploratory science and advanced technological development that is essential for the future of the Navy and Marine Corps."
About the Office of Naval Research
The Department of the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.