2021 Robert H. Goddard Award Winners Credit: NASA

Comm and Nav Community Members Take Home 20 Goddard Awards

By Kendall Murphy

February 9, 2022

On January 25, 2022, the Communications and Navigation Community received 20 Robert H. Goddard awards, recognizing 17 individuals and three teams at the center-level for their outstanding work achieved over the past year. Our community members won in multiple categories, including engineering, leadership, customer service, outreach, and more. Once again, the community is recognized for their hard work and unwavering dedication to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center initiatives. Read below to learn more about our winners!

Robert H. Goddard Tribute Award:

Frank Stocklin, who was a member of the Comm and Nav Community for over 50 years, was awarded one of Goddard’s highest awards for his exceptional radio frequency (RF) expertise. As the RF Analysis and Integration Manager in the Exploration and Space Communications (ESC) division, he analyzed RF links and guided communications system designs between NASA satellites and ground stations. Stocklin’s work enabled the delivery of millions of terabytes of science data accurately and efficiently and has furthered NASA’s ability to achieve mission success.

Robert H. Goddard Award of Merit:

David Israel won for his unwavering commitment to NASA and Goddard’s space communications capabilities, creating innovative networking techniques with lasting impact. Israel joined Goddard over 30 years ago and has dedicated his career to communications, working on techniques that revolutionize NASA’s capabilities. He led the team that conceptualized LunaNet, which will extend internet-like capabilities to the Moon in support of the Artemis missions, and was the visionary behind NASA’s Near Space Network (NSN), a revolutionary new way for NASA to conduct space communications.

Customer Service:

Rosa Avalos-Warren won for her exceptional service to NASA’s human spaceflight missions, providing essential communications and navigation services to crewed vehicles. As a previous human spaceflight mission manager within the NSN, Avalos-Warren ensured NASA’s astronauts safely reach space and have access to essential cargo.

Rae Roe was awarded for her excellent understanding of ESC’s needs. She demonstrates an ability to adapt to changing technologies and requirements, always keeping up with her customers. Roe has worked in configuration and data management at NASA for 37 years and brings innovative approaches to the daily activities she performs within the projects she supports.


Shane Baldwin was awarded for ensuring NASA’s space relay continues to provide communications and tracking services to customers. As field services engineer for the Advanced Communications Capabilities for Exploration and Science Systems (ACCESS) project, Baldwin leverages his technical expertise to identify problems and limitations in the modems and advocates to have them fixed.

Markland Benson won for his exceptional protection of NASA’s national security assets, which enables NASA’s science and exploration missions. For the last 14 years, Benson has managed the design and deployment of an IT security program that provides monitoring, detection, and response to cyber issues potentially affecting NASA’s ground-based communications system.

TJ Crooks was awarded for his engineering support to the ACCESS project, enabling critical communications and operations of the Space Test Program Satellite-6 (STPSat-6) and the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). Crooks is the lead of two major development efforts, the STPSat-6 Antenna and Ground Element (SAGE) and the Lunar Exploration Ground System (LEGS), a new antenna and ground system that will support upcoming lunar and Lagrange missions.

Bryan Robinson won for his ability to balance two major optical communications projects while managing their teams and providing customer-centered leadership. Robinson is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (MIT-LL) optical communications engineer leading the Orion Artemis II Optical Communications System (O2O) and the Integrated LCRD Low-Earth Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal (ILLUMA-T), as well as supervising optical communication engineering at MIT-LL.

Haleh Safavi was awarded for her innovation in communications and mentorship of new talent. Safavi works on optical communications and researches quantum communications. She manages teams seeking to implement these capabilities, such as the development of a Low-Cost Optical Communications Terminal (LCOT), while mentoring the next generation of space communications professionals.

Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) Indian Ocean (IO) Remote Ground Station (RGS) Team won for their outstanding interagency collaboration between the U.S. Air Force (USAF), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and NASA to develop a critical ground segment across the world. The NASA team coordinated the ground station effort to support NOAA’s GOES-13 drift to the IO and was responsible for developing two antennas in Australia to support the mission’s tracking, telemetry, and command data.

Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) Ground Segment Team was awarded for their dedicated engineering, development, and integration of pioneering ground systems to support NASA’s first optical communications relay. The team developed a new Optical Ground Station (OGS)-2 in Hawaii; upgraded the OGS-1 at Table Mountain; developed the Payload to Ground Link Terminal (PGLT) to interface with the host mission ground modem; and created the LCRD Mission Operations Center (LMOC).

Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SGSS) Project won for their completion in modernizing critical NASA space communications infrastructure for the ACCESS project. The team worked through enormous challenges, ensuring that the new system met customer requirements. SGSS upgraded the current Tracking and Data Relay Satellite infrastructure to accommodate higher data rates and volume, increase security, streamline maintenance requirements, and extend the network’s lifespan.

Diversity, Inclusion, & EEO:

Tara Dulaney won for her contributions to the center’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Employment effort. Dulaney is passionate about employee development, providing growth opportunities, encouragement, and motivation to all team members. Dulaney utilizes email messages, one-on-one coaching, and active engagement in meetings to offer mentoring. She spends time helping managers understand alternative viewpoints, work-life balance impacts, and mental health during a pandemic.

Professional Administrative:

Kimberly Walker-El won for outstanding administrative support to the LCRD project. During the integration and testing period new challenges and requirements in need of timely completion arose, and project support was critical. Walker-El made an extraordinary effort to adjust the processes to accommodate COVID-19 requirements and restrictions and assisted with process improvements while maintaining a strong project support function team.


Cathy Barclay, who has since moved to the Astrophysics Projects Division, won for her dedicated leadership during ESC’s reorganization. Barclay created a team to help with the new network structure, achieving the goal in under 90 days. She also established an open line of communication and an environment of trust with community members by inviting them to express their questions and concerns about the reorganization, ensuring all voices were heard and action was taken.

John Staren won for his outstanding leadership of the LCRD team in completing space vehicle qualification and readiness for activation. Staren is the lead mission system engineer for LCRD, which launched in December 2021. His inspiring leadership in integrating and testing the LCRD flight payload and the space vehicle assembly led to mission success.

LaNetra Tate, who has since left NASA, won for her exceptional leadership in establishing a new office to support the agency’s commercialization goals. Tate assembled a talented and collaborative team and created the Commercialization, Innovation, and Synergies (CIS) office to identify opportunities, foster synergistic relationships, and infuse innovative technologies in support of enhancing exploration and space communications capabilities and achieving commercialization efforts for NASA.


Daniel Baird won for his content creation and bringing oft-overlooked technologies and capabilities into the limelight with “The Invisible Network,” NASA’s first-ever narrative podcast. Baird serves as the ESC’s social media lead and creative content developer, producing enticing written work and visually dynamic multimedia products. As an outreach specialist, he volunteers his time and talent to produce quality products that educate the public on Goddard’s communications and navigation efforts.

Javier Ocasio-Perez won for his altruistic promotion of STEM education and unexplored pathways for the public, students, and current employees to engage in NASA missions. Ocasio-Perez serves as Co-Chair of the Hispanic Advisory Committee for Employees and is a standing member of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee at Goddard. In this role, he represents the interests of Goddard’s Hispanic community by advocating for initiatives that help with the recruitment, hiring, retention, and professional development.

Mission and Enabling Support:

Salem El-Nimri was awarded for his leadership of the Data Acquisition Processing and Handling Network Environment (DAPHNE) team. DAPHNE is a high-speed general-purpose system to receive data from all missions. El-Nimri’s leadership stretched far beyond his technical team and led a transformative coordination with project partners, different directorates, various NASA information security divisions, and more.