STD Research Staff

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James Belanich, Ph.D.
Assistant Director

James Belanich joined IDA in 2012. His research focuses on STEM program evaluation, training technology assessment, workforce solutions and human performance enhancement. From 2015 to 2021, he was a member of the U.S. Army’s Education Advisory Committee. Prior to joining IDA, he worked at the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (ARI) as the chief of the Program, Budget, and Strategic Initiatives Office, where he managed ARI’s research program and coordinated institute-wide activities. As an ARI research psychologist, he conducted research on advanced training methods. He received his doctorate in psychology — learning processes from the City University of New York in 2001.

Jennifer Bewley, Ph.D.
Research Staff Member

Jennifer Bewley joined STD in 2017. Her research focuses on a variety of areas related to weather, cloud physics and climate security. Prior to joining IDA, Jennifer specialized in analyzing weather impacts on air traffic in support of the Federal Aviation Administration. In graduate school, her research focused on cloud microphysics, specifically warm rain processes. She holds a doctorate in atmospheric science from Purdue University and a bachelor’s degree in meteorology from Florida Institute of Technology. She is a member of the American Meteorological Society where she served on the Committee on Cloud Physics from 2009 to 2012.

Sujeeta Bhatt, Ph.D.
Research Staff Member

Sujeeta Bhatt has research, project management and publication expertise in behavioral science, neuroscience, credibility assessment and interrogation. She has applied her skills in translating technical research for diverse audiences to her research at IDA since 2019. She leads tasks focused on reducing sexual assault in the military and participates in research on non-lethal weapons, extremism, cyber exploitation and DOD scholarship programs. Previously, Sujeeta was a senior program officer at the National Academies of Sciences. Before that she was a research scientist at the Defense Intelligence Agency detailed to the FBI’s High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group working on evidence-based interrogation and lie detection. She holds a doctorate in behavioral neuroscience from American University and a bachelor’s in biopsychology from the University of Michigan. In 2005, Sujeeta received the Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Fellowship award.

Michael S. Finnin, Ph.D.
Research Staff Member

Michael Finnin joined STD in 2002. He conducts analyses for the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering’s Basic Research Office (BRO), the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. For the BRO, he leads analyses for several Defense Department basic research programs: Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship, Defense Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research and Laboratory University Collaborative Initiative. His field of expertise is synthetic and molecular biology, bioengineering and chemical and biological agents. As a post-doctoral fellow at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Michael studied the molecular structure of Vorinostat, a treatment for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. He holds a doctorate in microbiology, immunology and biophysics from Duke University and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from New York University.

Jeffrey (Jeff) F. Nicoll, Ph.D.
Adjunct Research Staff Member

Jeff Nicoll joined STD in 1987, serving as assistant director from 1989 to 1992. Before joining IDA, he worked in a commercial artificial intelligence-related firm. His IDA work has covered a range of electro-optical/infrared technologies including IR detector manufacture, tactical and strategic infrared sensors and tactical visible light sensors. He has modeled the interaction between different surveillance and fire control radars in a joint environment for both U.S. and adversary scenarios. Other modeling efforts address issues of importance to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. Jeff has 25 years of experience in participating in technical analyses and face-to-face negotiations pertaining to conventional arms control. He has bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering, physics and mathematics, and a doctorate in theoretical physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also has a master’s degree from the Howard University School of Divinity.

Jeffrey (Jeff) A. Snyder, Ph.D.
Research Staff Member

Jeff Snyder joined STD in 2004. His research focuses on sensors, data analytics and artificial intelligence/machine learning. Jeff works as a project leader and as a team member on projects across the range of defense and intelligence research areas. Topics range from non-lethal weapons to nuclear weapon effects, and performance of radio networks to performance of advanced machine learning systems. Previously, he was an assistant professor at Yale University with a joint appointment in the physics and astronomy departments. Jeff received his bachelor’s degree in physics from the Johns Hopkins University and two master’s degrees and a doctorate in physics from Yale University. His thesis and early post-graduate work were in experimental particle physics. Later in his academic career, Jeff researched topics in astrophysics, including gravitational lensing of quasars, trans-Neptunian objects and supernovae. He was also heavily involved in building astronomical instrumentation.

Alexander (Alex) D. Taylor, Ph.D.
Research Staff Member

Alex Taylor joined IDA as a member of the STD research staff in 2022. His research focuses on advanced materials and emerging technologies for aerospace applications, especially for light emission, harvesting and detection. As a member of the space interests working group at IDA, he also participates in research and analysis across a wide range of issues in space policy and strategy. He holds a doctorate in physics from Wake Forest University, and spent time as a postdoctoral scientist at the University of Heidelberg and Technical University Dresden in Germany. Before joining IDA, he was a research fellow at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where he worked on novel sensor designs as part of the Planetary Environments Laboratory.

Mark S. Taylor, Ph.D.
Deputy Director

Mark Taylor joined STD’s staff in 2005. He has more than three decades of experience conducting technical analyses and leading large project teams focused on a variety of science and technology issues affecting national security. In addition to his duties as deputy director, Mark is also the director of the Defense Science Study Group (DSSG), a program designed to introduce outstanding science and engineering professors to U.S. security challenges and to encourage them to apply their talents to these issues. Before joining STD, he served at the Office of Naval Research Global in London as Associate Director, Electronic Materials and Devices. His research interests included nanoelectronics, spintronics, photonic bandgap materials and wide bandgap semiconductors. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in materials science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.