The National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska (NU) has evolved its leadership structure to encourage growth and amplify the support the institute provides to its national security partners throughout the Department of Defense and federal government. The changes, effective January 1, 2022, position the institute to also optimize collaboration across the NU campuses and provide enhanced mobility to employees.
“While there are still lingering effects of a difficult last eighteen months, we are seeing positive financial and business development signals for our institute,” said Maj. Gen., USAF (Ret.) Rick Evans, NSRI executive director. “These positive signs mean it is time to not only look forward, but to move forward with purpose to ensure we have set the right course to grow our business while continuing to deliver first class research and support to our sponsors, value and research opportunities to the University of Nebraska, and opportunities for our current and future employees.”
As the DOD-designated University Affiliated Research Center for U.S. Strategic Command and a new partner of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, NSRI is a leading research institute for strategic deterrence and nuclear enterprise weapons support. To increase efficiency and deepen its expertise in these critical mission areas, Dr. Christopher Yeaw has assumed the role of associate executive director for all nuclear-related programs. Adam Carlstrom and Patrick Rhoads have moved into research director roles, and new hires will be announced soon.
Given NSRI and NU's deep expertise, experience and foresight in the area of countering weapons of mass destruction (CWMD), the institute is launching CWMD allied programs. This new cluster of directorates includes field operations and training, medical countermeasures as well as food, agriculture and environment security. These directorates align with the threat specific programs that focus on countering biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear threats but are not limited to these threat areas. Each focus on readiness, response and resilience to consequences associated with these and other national security threats. This area of focus will be led by Dr. Neal Woollen as associate executive director. Wes Carter has assumed the role of research director for field operations and training.
The institute’s chemical and biological defense programs are aiming to increase capabilities and capacity. Dillon Cunningham and Dr. Thomas Mueller have assumed research director roles and Steven Distelhorst and Dan Ackerman have been promoted to senior scientists. Martin Sikes Jr., who is currently supporting the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND) through an intergovernmental personnel act, will return to NSRI in April 2022 as associate executive director for chemical and biological defense.
Finally, as the institute continues to increase the amount of research and products delivered across its portfolio, a new NSRI Science and Technology Advisory Council is being established to ensure the quality of technical deliverables remains extremely high. To lead this effort, Dr. Josh Santarpia has assumed the role of Science and Technology Advisor.
Dr. Santarpia will retain leadership responsibility for NSRI IRAD and the new Collaborative Biosecurity Laboratory at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He will also take over leadership of NSRI Fellows, a premier program established in 2020 that brings together nearly 80 researchers from across the university system to develop solutions for complex problems across the spectrum of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats.
"Hallmarks of all good organizations are relentless focus on continuous improvement and mission impact as well as recognition of outstanding individual and team performance and potential,” Evans said. “These announcements fall in both categories as these team members are already performing at a high level. These changes recognize their excellence and seek to position these leaders to maximize their potential impact on our team’s overall performance."
Biographies of NSRI leaders are available at nsri.nebraska.edu/experienced-experts.
About the National Strategic Research Institute
Through the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska leading scientists deliver innovative national security research, technology, product and strategy development, training and exercises, and subject matter expertise to the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. One of only 14 DOD-designated University Affiliated Research Centers in the country, NSRI is sponsored by U.S. Strategic Command and works to ensure the United States’ safety and preparedness against increasingly sophisticated threats. Read about our mission.