Dr. Richard Vaia is a principal technical leader in several scientific fields, encompassing chemistry, physics, nanotechnology, and electronics. As the Chief Scientist for the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory, he oversees the science and technology portfolio of various Air Force commands.
Catch Dr. Richard Vaia on the podium as a panelist for the 10th Annual Defense R&D Summit on January 31, 2024. He is participating in Panel B, Technological Overmatch: Ensuring the Innovation Advantage in a Complex Security Landscape.
Here’s an overview of Dr. Richard Vaia’s professional journey into leading the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory.
Dr. Richard Vaia: Who is he?
Dr. Richard A. Vaia boasts three decades of experience in the defense landscape. He has published over 220 articles and patented over 16 technologies throughout his tenure. These exemplary contributions have enhanced Dr. Vaia’s industry reputation, often receiving invitations to speak in plenary, keynote, and speeches for national and international scientific conferences.
By delving into multi-functional structures, coatings, inks, electronics, optical devices, autonomous systems, and nanomaterials, Dr. Richard A. Vaia has expanded his scientific knowledge, methods, and capabilities. This skill set has become instrumental in his leadership role at AFRL’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate.
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Dr. Richard Vaia: Educational and professional backgrounds
Dr. Richard A. Vaia is a Cornell University alumnus, having completed his academic journey from bachelor’s to doctorate. His educational accomplishments include a Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering (1991), a Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering (1993), and a Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering (1995).
In 1995, Dr. Vaia started his career in the U.S. Air Force as the Captain of the Polymer Branch at the Air Force Materials Laboratory. He leveraged these qualifications as he commanded the Air Force Research Laboratory’s array of divisions, including:
- NanoStructured and Biological Materials Branch
- Functional Materials Division
- Emergent Materials Systems
- Materials & Manufacturing Directorate
In January 2020, Dr. Richard A. Vaia assumed the Chief Scientist for the Materials & Manufacturing Directorate role at AFRL in Wright–Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. In this capacity, he serves as the principal scientific and primary authority for the technical content of the directorate’s science and technology portfolio.
Dr. Richard Vaia: Panelist at the 10th Annual Defense R&D Summit
On January 31, 2024, Dr. Richard A. Vaia is joining Panel B for the 10th Annual Defense R&D Summit, called Technological Overmatch: Ensuring the Innovation Advantage in a Complex Security Landscape. The panel explores processes and techniques to secure advantages for innovation in the defense landscape.
Joining the panel list for this discussion includes
- Captain Jesse Black, Commanding Officer at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
- Maynard Holliday, Performing the Duties of an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Critical Technologies at the Department of Defense
- William McHenry, Senior Advisor to the Director at the Defense Innovation Unit
- Retired Sergeant Major Daniel Gile, Vice President of National Security at Digital Science (Moderator)
The 10th Annual Defense R&D Summit is the first of the monthly summits hosted by the Potomac Officers Club. The summit discusses the latest technological advancements researched and developed over the past year. Most of all, it looks into the future, aiming to trailblaze growth in the defense sector.
Hear insights from keynote speakers Heidi Shyu, Steve Welby, John Cushing, Dr. Tom Drake, Aditi Kumar, and Jay Dryer at the 10th Annual Defense R&D Summit. Become a member of the Potomac Officers Club to learn more.
Dr. Vaia’s AFRL tenure: Achieving scientific growth in the various defense markets
While Dr. Richard A. Vaia primarily dedicates his efforts to AFRL, particularly as the Chief Scientist for the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, his work and contributions extend to various defense markets. This has made him a prestigious member of the scientific and professional cadre of senior executives.
A few of the markets and divisions where Dr. Vaia’s AFRL tenure has been pivotal encompass
- Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering for the American Chemical Society
- Materials Research Laboratory for the University of California
- Polymer Physics for the American Physics Society
Moreover, Dr. Richard A. Vaia chaired and headed AFRL’s Nanoscience and Technology Strategic Technology Team and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Service.