Eric Evans will step down as director MIT Lincoln Laboratory on July 1, 2024, after 18 years leading a laboratory that has served the country through its technology research and development since 1951.

Evans will assume the role of an associate within the Office of the Director of Lincoln Laboratory. He will even function a senior fellow within the Security Studies Program on the MIT campus. He will support the continued growth of collaborative research and development between Lincoln Laboratory and the MIT campus, including in areas related to climate change and research into advanced technology applications inside the Security Studies Program.

The transition will mark the tip of a successful tenure through which Evans adapted and strengthened the laboratory during a time of great change in response to national security needs. He also served as a key technology strategy advisor to senior government leaders.

“It has been an honor and privilege to guide MIT Lincoln Laboratory,” says Evans. “I actually appreciate what our laboratory community has done over a few years to develop among the country’s most vital and difficult technical advances.”

Lincoln Laboratory is a federally funded research and development center focused on technology development, systems prototyping and capability transfer to government, industrial firms and industry.

Under Evans’ leadership, the laboratory established recent research and development mission areas in cybersecurity, homeland security, and biotechnology, and launched recent programs in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, climate change technology, quantum information science, and energy system resilience. Evans has also strengthened relationships with the MIT research community, increased diversity and inclusion efforts, advanced STEM education initiatives, and developed recent models for technology transfer to small and medium-sized industrial enterprises.

Evans has also served as a member and vice-chair and is now chair of the Defense Science Board (DSB). The DSB examines the science and technology needs of the U.S. Department of Defense and strives to resolve highly unstructured problems and develop recent capabilities for the nation’s defense.

“During his twenty years at Lincoln Laboratory, Eric’s leadership has demonstrated what an ambitious research and development laboratory and a big institute can achieve together: transformative improvements to the systems that keep the world protected and a long-lasting impact on the practice of innovation itself.” says Maria Zuber, vp for research at MIT. “Eric was ahead of the curve in recognizing the worldwide impact of emerging technology areas and was a trusted advisor on science and technology strategy. The culture of excellence, collaboration and creativity that Eric cultivates at Lincoln Laboratory ensures his success well into the longer term. I’m grateful for his service and grateful that he’ll remain at MIT in his recent roles.”

Zuber announced Evans’ decision in a letter to school and staff today. She will appoint a search committee to advise on the number of the following laboratory director.

A profession of service

Evans began as a technical associate at Lincoln Laboratory in 1988. After being named director of Lincoln Laboratory in 2006, he immediately began working with laboratory leaders and staff to develop recent mission areas and programs based on national needs. He worked with most of the laboratory’s staff to ascertain a big homeland security mission area to develop sensors and data integration systems to support the needs of the Department of Homeland Security. Under Evans’ leadership, the laboratory developed recent homeland air defense capabilities in addition to chemical and biological sensor systems to counter advanced threats.

The lab later established a cybersecurity mission area to deal with the dynamic threats of cyberattacks. Through many recent programs, Lincoln Laboratory researchers developed technologies that help protect defense and civilian cyber networks and improve the cyber resilience of hardware and software for brand spanking new computing systems.

The laboratory also began significant recent work in biotechnology and human systems to develop advanced health monitoring and injury recovery support systems for the Army and other sponsors. During the Covid-19 pandemicEvans directed the laboratory to quickly apply its biotechnology resources to the issues of medical resource allocation, health surveillance, automated contact tracing and virus spread evaluation. Many of those technologies proceed to be improved and transferred to recent applications.

The laboratory leveraged major defense investments in airborne ground mapping sensors and communications networks and established recent programs for humanitarian aid and disaster reliefincluding rapid responses to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas.

Evans has also focused on expanding other programs to satisfy civilian needs. For example, recent aircraft collision avoidance and weather avoidance technology developed with support from the FAA has improved aviation safety worldwide.

NASA-funded programs have also benefited from Lincoln Laboratory’s initiatives. An vital milestone was reached in 2013 with the primary two-way demonstration Wide bandwidth laser communication between moon and earth. This innovation opened up recent opportunities for NASA, which wants to make use of the technology to transmit data over interplanetary distances.

“Eric is a gifted and influential leader who has brought advances in innovation and research beyond the confines of the laboratory to serve the world,” said MIT Provost Cynthia Barnhart.

Stronger ties to MIT

Over the past 15 years, Lincoln Laboratory’s variety of research collaborations with the MIT campus has increased nearly fourfold. The laboratory has expanded collaboration by providing funding for campus research, making a lot of its facilities available to campus researchers, supporting undergraduate and graduate teaching, and posing recent research questions.

As a part of this collaboration, Lincoln Laboratory partnered with MIT’s School of Engineering in 2013 to ascertain this Beaver Works Center at MIT. The facility enables collaborative prototyping and technology development by MIT researchers and Lincoln Laboratory technical staff.

More recently, Lincoln Laboratory collaborated with the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics to ascertain this Center for Quantum Technology Development of latest technologies for quantum computers, sensors and communication. Lincoln Laboratory can also be contributing Department of the Air Force – MIT Artificial Intelligence Accelerator Program.

A distinguished example of research collaboration was the launch of the NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) in 2018. Lincoln Laboratory worked closely with the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research to develop the highly sensitive cameras aboard TESS Since its launch, it has discovered many recent planets orbiting distant stars.

Striving for an inclusive culture and community service

During his tenure, Evans also took steps to make the laboratory’s culture more inclusive and supportive and to significantly increase the proportion of ladies and other people of color in technical and leadership positions. He established an office of diversity and inclusion, appointed a chief diversity and inclusion officer and strengthened human resources to enhance worker recruitment, development and retention.

To meet the national need for more diverse talent, Evans served as chairman of the board for six years National GEM Consortium, a corporation that gives scholarships to underrepresented minorities pursuing college degrees in STEM fields. Through the efforts of many GEM volunteers and staff, the variety of GEM scholarships increased significantly during Evans’ tenure as board chair. “I actually appreciated being involved on this program that supports an especially vital need,” Evans said. “The GEM mission is outstanding and Lincoln Laboratory has benefited greatly from their support and the extraordinary GEM scholarship holders We have hired.”

Evans has also strongly supported the creation of diverse programs to encourage K-12 students’ interest in STEM fields. The lab’s STEM outreach programs have reached greater than 100,000 students across the country, with nearly 8,000 students per yr involved in programs that include constructing radar devices, constructing small satellites, developing autonomous model cars and developing recent cryptography algorithms .

Equipped for future success

Going forward, Evans has positioned Lincoln Laboratory to advance its mission. The laboratory is currently conducting research in emerging technology areas similar to artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and quantum systems and is making major investments in recent facilities and specialist laboratories.

As a part of the modernization of its facilities, the laboratory recently broke ground on the development of a giant, $300 million microelectronics laboratory to develop recent technologies for sensing and data processing. A second Defense Department investment of $300 million is earmarked for an engineering prototyping facility, with construction scheduled to start in 2026. Several additional recent research and development facilities are planned as a part of a long-term facility modernization plan supported by the Department of Defense. “These facility investments will enable the laboratory to stay a robust center for the event of revolutionary technologies for many years to come back,” says Evans.

Following his retirement as director, Evans will proceed to work with the defense community to support studies for current and future defense systems and technology requirements. He will even develop and teach courses on technology for national security.

“MIT Lincoln Laboratory is a special place and I actually enjoyed the leadership and learning experiences. “I’m very happy with the numerous impact our creative leaders and employees have had on national security and society over a few years,” said Evans.

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