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  • NHRC Researcher Named Junior Officer of the Year for Navy Medicine Research Enterprise

    SAN DIEGO – Lt. Cmdr. Brennan Cox, an aerospace experimental psychologist at Naval Health Research Center (NHRC), has been selected as the 2016 Navy Medicine Research Enterprise and Naval Health Research Center Junior Officer of the Year.


    Cox, current department head for research operations and a researcher at NHRC’s Warfighter Performance Department, was recognized for his work validating mobile electroencephalographic (EEG) systems in an immersive virtual reality environment (IVRE) and standing up a new department at the command to provide support services to all NHRC scientists.

    “Lt. Cmdr. Cox is one of the most dedicated researchers I’ve had the pleasure of working with in my nearly three-decade career,” said Capt. Rita Simmons, commanding officer at NHRC. “Not only is he committed to improving operational health and readiness through science, he’s also an engaged leader who’s willing to step out of his comfort zone and take on new challenges and responsibilities to support the mission.” 
    As a researcher at NHRC’s Warfighter Performance Lab, Cox and his team were awarded $746,000 by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to enhance NHRC’s computer assisted rehabilitation environment (CAREN) and diversify the lab’s IVRE research capabilities with a brain-machine-interface (BMI). This will establish a neurofeedback loop on the CAREN, enabling not only real-time measurement of a subject’s brain state, but can also be used to inform the CAREN’s tasking. For example, if a subject is fatigued, the CAREN could automatically adjust by slowing down the system’s treadmill speed or, conversely, if a subject is under-tasked, the BMI would increase the CAREN’s demands.
    Cox also led a 3-year, $1.1 million research project to validate mobile EEG systems that were integrated in the lab’s IVRE for clinical application. The results produced by Cox and his team provided empirical evidence and technical guidance to support the use of mobile EEG systems in complex and dynamic environments, paving the way for further neurocognitive research, development, testing, and evaluation for the military and civilian science communities alike. It was this research that paved the way for his team’s BMI work.
    “Being on the receiving end of this award is a tremendous honor, but I can’t take all the credit for it,” said Cox. “My sincere thanks and appreciation go out to all the members of my team, the incredibly gifted scientists and support personnel who I get the pleasure of working with each day. They are truly passionate about our mission and the people we serve. I’m also thankful for the outstanding leaders at NHRC who provide opportunities for those willing to take on new challenges and reinforce a culture committed to professional growth.”
    Beyond his duties as a Navy researcher, Cox has also assumed a significant amount of responsibility as the first department head for the newly formed Science Department for Research Operations.
    “Lt. Cmdr. Cox was hand-picked to serve as the first head for NHRC’s Science Department for Research Operations,” said Dr. Kenneth Earhart, NHRC science director. “He built a cohesive team of professionals that included technical editors, librarians, and research coordinators to provide seamless support to the scientific staff and streamline complex and cumbersome scientific works processes. This award reflects that he is not only an exemplary scientist, but also a skilled naval officer and leader, earning the respect and trust of staff and colleagues at the command, in the community, and across the enterprise.”
    In addition to his day-to-day duties, Cox was elected as president of the U.S. Aerospace Experimental Psychology (AEP) association in 2016 and is a member of the Medical Service Corps (MSC) professional development strategic goal group.
    Past accolades include the 2016 Robert S. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Aviation Research from the U.S. AEP Association and official recognition by the MSC corps chief for his contributions to the professional development team that led to the development of an e-mentor platform to enhance Navy career counseling efforts.
    Cox is a native of Stone Mountain, Georgia and joined the Navy in 2010. He earned his doctoral degree in industrial and organizational psychology from Alabama's Auburn University.
    As the DoD’s premier deployment health research center, NHRC’s cutting-edge research and development is used to optimize the operational health and readiness of the nation’s armed forces. In proximity to more than 95,000 active duty service members, world-class universities, and industry partners, NHRC sets the standard in joint ventures, innovation, and translational research.