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Janet S. Fender

Photo of Janet S. Fender © AIP Emilio Segr√® Visual Archives, Physics Today Collection

Awards & Distinctions

1997 President Janet S. Fender received a B.S. in physics and astronomy from the University of Oklahoma, U.S., in 1973 and an M.S. and Ph.D. in optical sciences from the University of Arizona, U.S., in 1978 and 1981. She served as the scientific adviser to the Commander, Air Combat Command (ACC), Langley Air Force Base, U.S., from 2004 until her retirement in 2018. In this position, she served as the command chief scientist providing scientific expertise and technical guidance throughout ACC. As the primary interface to the scientific community, Fender identified leading-edge technologies and catalyzed effective, rapid enhancements to ACC's war-fighting capabilities. 

In previous positions at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Fender served as chief scientist for Space Vehicles and Senior Scientist for Advanced Imaging. Her multifaceted career in science and technology includes basic laboratory research, fielding new capabilities, key technical positions in major programs, and support to operations. Her research in the field of directed energy was a cornerstone for the Strategic Defense Initiative. Ultimately responsible for the design and engineering of Air Force Space Command's premier space surveillance sensor, Fender's leadership ensured full operational readiness of the Advanced Electro-Optical Sensor at Mount Haleakala, Hawaii. As the U.S. member of the United Nations Space Surveillance Expert Group, Fender participated in establishing international policy for space.

In 2016 Fender received the Presidential Distinguished Service Rank Award, the highest award granted to a federal senior executive, for her career accomplishments. Internationally recognized for research and development of innovative high-resolution imaging technologies, she has published more than 100 journal articles and reports, holds critical U.S. patents, and is a frequently invited conference speaker.  Fender represented the Air Force on the Physics and Astronomy Board of the National Science Foundation, and she represents ACC on the NASA Advanced Aircraft Program Blue Ribbon Panel. She is a former chair of the Board of Assessment of the Physics Laboratory, National Institute of Science and Technology.  She is a fellow of OSA and SPIE.

Fender has served on many of the societies committees and was elected Vice President in 1995. She played a vital role on the Foundation Board throughout the years and is currently a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee.

Awards and Distinctions

Presidential Distinguished Service Rank Award
Fellow, Optical Society of America 
Fellow, International Society of Optical Engineers 
Distinguished Alumni, University of Oklahoma 
Distinguished Alumni, University of Arizona 
Sigma Pi Sigma (National Physics Honor Society) 
Gold, Silver, Bronze Corporate Cup athletic medals 
Air Force Scientific Achievement Award 
American Defense Preparedness Association Crozier Prize 
Coty Most Extraordinary American Woman of the Year 
New Mexico Federal Woman of the Year 
Who's Who Worldwide, Science and Engineering, Fourth Edition 
Coyote Classic Rally Navigator Award 
International Commission on Optics Award 
Special Act Award, U.S. Air Force 

Document Created: 26 Jul 2023
Last Updated: 28 Aug 2023

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