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Graduate School Faculty Receive Academic Promotion


The Air Force Institute of Technology’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management completed the academic year 2018-19 promotion and tenure (P&T) cycle.  Six faculty members underwent a rigorous evaluation of their teaching, scholarship and service resulting in a promotion in academic rank.  Cumulatively, the six faculty members have more than 552 publications, advised more than 173 AFIT students, and earned nearly $40 million in sponsored research funds.

“Being granted promotion and tenure in an academic institution is an affirmation of the high intellectual caliber of the faculty,” said Dr. Adedeji Badiru, Dean of the Graduate School of Engineering and Management.  “AFIT is fortunate to have this year’s cadre of exceptional scholars, who demonstrate the art of teaching what is researched and researching what is taught.”



Dr. Darryl Ahner was promoted to Professor of Operations Research within the Department of Operational Sciences.  Dr. Ahner came to AFIT in 2010 as a military faculty member and joined the civilian faculty upon his retirement from Army active duty in 2012.  A 1990 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, his academic studies include Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he earned a M.S. in applied mathematics and a M.S. in operations research and statistics, and Boston University where he earned his doctoral degree in systems engineering as a Draper Fellow.

From 2011-2015, Ahner served as the Director of the Center for Operational Analysis conducting faculty-led, student-driven research spanning the operations research and logistics programs and reaching across departments within AFIT in addition to partnering with many university partners. Dr. Ahner’s efforts have led to the establishment of the Office of the Secretary of Defense designated Scientific Test and Analysis Techniques Center of Excellence (OSD STAT COE) with an initial budget of $1.5 million annually which has grown to a baseline budget of $2 million annually. Ahner continues to serve as the Director of the OSD STAT COE interacting with OSD and Service Component leadership at the highest level.  Ahner led the development and delivery of Secretary of the Air Force sponsored design of experiments and reliability growth short courses that have reached over 1,800 Air Force civilian and military students. This outstanding level of professional service has brought Ahner, his research centers, and AFIT national and international acclaim. His centers’ research has a broad base of research sponsors from multiple services and OSD totaling almost $17 million over the past seven years.

Ahner’s personal research efforts have also received a broad base of funding from sponsors that include the Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Materiel Command, OSD Personnel & Readiness, and others totaling more than $2.4 million. As evidence of this productivity, Dr. Ahner has published 29 journal articles, 2 book chapters, and 28 peer-reviewed conference papers.  Dr. Ahner’s excellence in research was recognized by the 2014 E. Grosvenor Plowman Award for Best Paper at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals Global Conference.

Students sense that important work is being done and seek out opportunities to do their research under Darryl’s mentorship.  Up to 2018, he graduated 4 doctoral students and 21 master’s students, with an additional 1 PhD and 3 M.S. students in progress.  His research interests include:  optimization of stochastic models, dynamic programming – sequential decision making under uncertainty, military operations research applications, and mathematical modeling of complex systems. 

In addition to his significant research and service to AFIT, Ahner remains committed to excellence in teaching and professional service. He has taught 17 distinct graduate courses and an additional 6 advanced topic graduate courses receiving excellent student evaluations. He is an elected Member of the Board for the Military Operations Research Society where he was elected Vice President of Professional Development and Secretary of the Society in addition to being an active member in other societies. 


Dr. Benjamin Akers was promoted to Professor of Mathematics within the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Akers teaches graduate courses in numerical methods for differential equations, numerical linear algebra, and numerical analysis.  His research interests include numerical differential equations with an emphasis on the modeling of capillary waves. Prior to joining the AFIT faculty in 2011, he served as a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Akers has published 24 refereed journal articles, 2 book chapters and 2 conference proceedings.  His work has been cited hundreds of times.  He has received research grants totaling $353,000, including active support from the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.  He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Shipping and Ocean Engineering, and the Scientific Program Committee for the IMACS International Conference on Nonlinear Evolution Equations and Wave Phenomena: Computation and Theory. 

Akers has served on the research committees of 24 doctoral students and 5 master’s students at AFIT.  He received a SOCHE Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award in 2012 and has been named “Instructor of the Quarter” in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics on five separate occasions.  For 2018, Akers won the Instructor of the Year award. 

In 2008, Akers graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a Ph.D. in mathematics.  He earned a MA in Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005 and a BS in Mathematics from Pennsylvania State University in 2003.



Dr. Steven Fiorino was promoted to Professor of Atmospheric Physics within the Department of Engineering Physics.  Fiorino teaches graduate courses in meteorology, and more recently, in space surveillance. He has successfully advised 32 master’s theses and four doctoral dissertations.
Fiorino has published 32 refereed journal articles and 186 conference papers, including the highly cited Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology article on “Validation of a UV-to-RF high-spectral-resolution atmospheric boundary layer characterization tool.”  He has received 110 research grants totaling $14.6 million, including support from the Directed Energy (previously High Energy Laser) Joint Technology Office.  His research interests include the application of atmospheric science to problems in optical engineering, and he is currently serving as the Director of AFIT’s Center for Directed Energy.

Fiorino is an active member of several professional societies including the American Meteorological Society where he served as the President of the Wright Memorial Chapter from 2004-2005 and 2007-2011, the Optical Society of America, where he was the Program Chair of the Propagation through and Characterization of Atmospheric & Oceanic Phenomena Meetings from 2013-2017, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the Society of Photo-Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE), and the Directed Energy Professional Society.

Fiorino graduated from Florida State University with a Ph.D. in Physical Meteorology in 2002.  Prior to coming to AFIT in 2003, he was an Acquisition Systems Meteorologist at Wright-Patterson AFB OH from 1993-1996 and Commander of the Weather Flight at Langley AFB VA from 1996-1999.  




Dr. Seong-Jong Joo was promoted to Professor of Logistics & Supply Chain Management with tenure within the Department of Operational Sciences.  Joo began his academic career as a UPS foundation post-doctoral fellow in February 2003 after serving in the Republic of Korea Air Force for 21 years as a supply officer. He taught various courses in logistics and supply chain management as an Assistant or Associate Professor for 12 years from 2004 to 2016 before joining AFIT. He has taught courses in logistics and supply chain management at AFIT as an Associate Professor since 2016.

During his time at AFIT, Joo has been directly advising six master’s students and two doctoral students. He has published or had accepted 40 journal articles and 11 conference publications in the logistics and supply chain management area. He is the primary investigator of the $2.2 million grant ($1.32 million for his share) from the Air Force Materiel Command’s Directorate of Logistics and Sustainment and a $93,000 grant from the Headquarters of the U.S. Air Force (HAF/A4).  His research interests include logistics and supply chain management.

Joo is the director of the Master of Science in Logistics, which has been recognized as one of top-ten online programs by BestColleges.com. As the director, he significantly revised the curriculum of the program and prepared the annual review report of the program. He has served for professional institutes as track and session chairs for conferences (e.g., the track chair of management science and quantitative methods for the Western Decision Sciences Institute Annual Meeting from 2011 to present, the program chair of the Midwest Decision Sciences Institute Meeting in 2014, and several other conferences). He also served as the guest co-editor for the special issue on “Business Continuity and Risk Management in China” for International Journal of Business Continuity and Risk Management from 2013 to 2014. In addition to his significant contributions to academic communities, Joo was recognized as an outstanding faculty member three times. 




Dr. Michael Miller was promoted to Professor of Systems Engineering within the Department of Systems Engineering and Management.  He joined the AFIT faculty in 2010 and has taught more than 32 graduate course sections containing 325 students and 16 special studies courses. He developed the Human Systems specialization in systems engineering, Human Factors specialization in Engineering Management, and the Human Systems Certificate, which rely on a common set of core classes. This activity included the development of four new courses and instruction of four additional courses. Additionally, he helped to develop AFIT’s Autonomy Certificate.  He has advised 5 doctoral students and 25 master’s students. He has also served on the committees of 28 additional students in Systems Engineering and Management or Computer Science.

Miller’s primary research interest is human-system interaction and he explores novel applications of LED technology. He has received 18 research grants, totaling $1.36 million from organizations such as the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, US Army Research Laboratories, US Environmental Protection Agency, and the 711th Human Performance Wing.  He has contributed to 31 peer-reviewed journal articles, and according to Google Scholar, 11 of his articles have 11 or more citations, with the most cited article having 112 citations. Nineteen of his 101 issued U.S. patents have over 100 citations. Additionally, Miller has published 29 articles in peer reviewed conferences, 37 conference articles based on abstract review, and 3 book chapters.  He has been a member of the applied vision committee for Information Display Week since 2006, chairing or co-chairing this committee from 2008 - 2010. He reviews journal articles for the Journal of the Society for Information Display, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Journal, Lighting Research and Technology, and Systems Engineering.

Miller is a 1993 graduate of Virginia Tech with a PhD in Industrial and Systems Engineering and Ohio University with a MS (1989) and BS (1987), both in Industrial and Systems Engineering.  He spent 18 years in industry, working in research and development at IBM and Eastman Kodak Company during which he participated in several research and advanced development projects. The most significant of these projects was the development of RGBW OLED displays in 2002, which enabled production of large OLED displays. His work in this area involved concept development, as well as, construction of system-level power, lifetime, and image processing models to demonstrate the concept’s value. Once adopted, he spent several years developing image science and leading a systems integration team to improve the performance of these displays. Kodak sold the OLED patent portfolio and technology to LG electronics in 2009. The RGBW OLED technology currently serves as the basis for LG Electronics’ OLED televisions. The Society for Information Display (SID) Board of Directors acknowledged his contribution in this area by awarding Miller Senior Member status in January 2011. This status is reserved for “those individuals who are recognized to have made significant technical contributions to the advancement of displays” and demonstrated active participation in SID.




Dr. Christine Schubert Kabban was promoted to Professor of Statistics within the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.  She teaches graduate courses on many statistical topics including regression, general linear models, theory of probability, categorical data analysis, and nonparametrics.  Her research interests are diverse and include classification methods and performance, information fusion and big data, structural health monitoring, network analysis, and epidemiological topics. 

Schubert Kabban has published over 90 refereed journal articles, three book chapters and 40 conference proceedings.  Her work has been cited over 5,000 times.  She has received research grants totaling approximately $2M, including active support from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Air Force Research Laboratory.  She is a member of and statistical consultant for the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, has served as the chair or co-chair for conferences and workshops, and remains active as a referee for many statistical and biostatistical journals.

Schubert Kabban has served on the research committees of over 50 doctoral and masters students.  Her teaching has been recognized by winning the Instructor of the Quarter for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in Fall Quarter 2014, the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education Faculty Excellence Award in 2018, and recently the Civilian Category III Award for the 4th Quarter in 2018. 

Schubert Kabban graduated from the Air Force Institute of Technology with a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics in 2005.  Prior to joining AFIT’s faculty in 2010, she served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biostatistics, School of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University.