Link Foundation Fellowships Newsletter

Inside this Issue


Meet this Year's Fellowship Recipients


Dr. Letian Dou, 2013 Link Foundation Energy Resources Development and Conservation Fellow, currently he is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Department of Chemistry, University of California-Berkeley

Dr. Letian Dou was selected to receive a Link Foundation Energy Fellowship in 2013, while pursuing a PhD in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA).   During his time as a Link Fellow, Letian’s research focused on design and synthesis of novel conjugated semi-conducting polymers for photovoltaic applications, with the purposes of enhancing the power conversion efficiency and lowering the costs of organic solar cells.  In addition, during a short visiting at University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) in the summer of 2013, he discovered a new way to convert organic small molecule crystals into polymer single crystals by exposing the materials to visible light.
The novel single crystal polymeric materials show high potential for solar cell and transistor applications, which is believed as a huge breakthrough in polymer science.

Dr. Letian Dou is currently a postdoc fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Department of Chemistry, University of California-Berkeley.  His research interest is nanomaterials and hybrid materials for solar energy harvesting.  Dr. Dou hopes to become a faculty member after the postdoc appointment so that he can devote himself to education and scientific research for renewable energies.

“The Link Fellowship provided me great opportunities to pursue science and technology that can benefit our society, and it helped to create a new direction of research at UCLA. Winning the fellowship enhanced my commitment to working on clean energies, and made me feel that it is a lifelong passion and mission.  I believe that the prestigious Link Foundation Energy Fellowship will have long-lasting impacts on my opportunities for professional career,” stated Dr. Dou.

The Link Foundation Board congratulates Dr. Letian Dou on his work, which had been supported through his Link Fellowship, and which was published in Science, Vol. 343, January 17, 2014.  This highly prestigious journal is an internationally known publication to which prominent researchers turn in order to share groundbreaking research.

You may read the article which published in Science at:


Dr. Jason Jerald, 2006 Link Foundation Advanced Simulation & Training Fellow, and he currently is the Co-Founder & Principal Consultant at NextGen Interactions; Chief Scientist & Senior Software Engineer at Digital ArtForms; and Advisory Board Member at Sixense Entertainment

Dr. Jerald received a Link Foundation Advanced Simulation & Training Fellowship in 2006 for his PhD dissertation work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill entitled, “Scene-Motion- and Latency-Perception Thresholds for Head-Mounted Displays.”  The subject matter is an important issue for virtual reality systems as latency and the resulting scene motion can cause a degraded user experience, decreases performance, and is a major cause of simulator sickness.
For Dr. Jerald’s dissertation, he implemented a virtual reality system with less than 8 milliseconds of end-to-end latency.  Although this was the lowest documented latency for such a system at the time (most systems consisted of 50-100 milliseconds), that was only the starting point of Dr. Jerald’s research. 

With support from the Link Foundation, Dr. Jerald created a technique to separate scene motion from latency (which are normally directly related for head-mounted displays) and was thus able to simulate a zero-latency virtual reality system.  This allowed him to conduct user studies that measured latency thresholds for different conditions.  Surprisingly, some sensitive subjects had thresholds as low as a few milliseconds.  Dr. Jerald developed a mathematical model relating scene motion, latency, head motion, and perceptual thresholds.  He then validated the model through psychophysics measurements and analysis.

At the time of Dr. Jerald’s dissertation, latency for head-mounted displays was a topic that few discussed.  However, in 2012, head-mounted display technology began to infiltrate the consumer entertainment industry.  Suddenly, latency became a major concern, and Dr. Jerald’s dissertation work caught the attention of both industry and entertainment leaders such as Valve Software and Oculus VR who hired Dr. Jerald to help with such issues.  Since that time, the mainstream media has written extensively about virtual reality technology.  Likewise, investors have increased their funding in virtual reality projects.  For example, Oculus VR raised approximately $100 Million and hopes to ship millions of consumer head-mounted displays in the near future.

In late 2012, Dr. Jerald founded NextGen Interactions.  His company focuses on consulting & contract services, partnerships with complimentary companies, company-branded products, and technical speaking and training engagements.   NextGen Interactions began to see success almost immediately, developing and integrating software for multiple companies across diverse fields such as entertainment, education, medical, and transportation.  One of its products, a virtual reality game, was even featured on ABC’s Shark Tank with an Omni-directional treadmill built by Virtuix.  Over 7 million viewers saw virtual reality technology in action. 

Dr. Jerald has recently started working with his former employer on an NIH-funded grant titled, “Motion-Controlled Gaming for Neuroscience Education.”  NextGen Interactions will continue to grow in 2014 and beyond as business relationships and products continue to evolve.
Dr. Jerald holds over 20 publications and patents in the areas of computer graphics, human-computer interaction, and virtual/augmented reality.  He currently sits on four conference committees and is an advisor for Sixense Entertainment.   Dr. Jerald’s website can be found at, and he can be contacted at  You may also follow him on Twitter @_jasonjerald.


Mr. Chip Baumberger, 2002 Link Marine Science Intern, former Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) Research Assistant, currently he is a Marine Project Scientist at CSA Ocean Sciences Inc., Stuart, Florida

Mr. Baumberger was awarded a Link marine science internship at HBOI in 2002 to conduct scuba diving surveys of the fish community on Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary in the Florida Keys, mentored by Dr. Brian Lapointe.  Mr. Baumberger went on to join the HBOI marine science department as a research assistant to Dr. Lapointe, where he continued his work on fish community responses to harmful algal blooms.  During his tenure at HBOI, Mr. Baumberger was involved in a variety of projects from diving safety, to ship’s photographer on a Biomedical Marine Research cruise on the R/V Seward Johnson, to publishing his first journal article based on a JSL II sub dive.

Mr. Baumberger pursued a MS in marine biology/ecology through the HBOI-FAU partnership, and graduated in 2009.  After 6 years of support of Dr. Lapointe’s harmful algal bloom diving operations, Mr. Baumberger was hired by CSA Ocean Sciences, Inc., as an environmental consultant.  He continues to conduct scuba diving research on reefs and nearshore hardbottom habitats, as well as participating in coral relocations, damage assessments, mitigation, and coral restoration projects to ensure the future health of ocean ecosystems around the world.

Mr. Baumberger recently stated, “The Link internship provided a spring-board for starting me on the career path to being a scuba diving scientist.  With a desire to pursue my dreams, I needed the opportunity to show that I was capable of achieving them.  My internship fueled a strong relationship with my mentor at HBOI, Dr. Lapointe, who had spent much of his career conducting scuba diving science as I aspired to do.  

Receiving the Link marine science internship provided me time to hone my skills and learn many new ones, all of which led to the completion of my MS degree and furthering my career as a marine scientist.  The support of the internship during my first summer after graduating with my BS in marine biology (FAU), allowed me to stop waiting tables and focus on the science I had been in pursuit of since I left the U.S. Navy in 1996.  The Link Foundation helped do just that; lay the foundation for all of my future successes as a marine scientist, and I am forever thankful to the Link Foundation for that.”

 Chip Baumberger

Pictured above from left to right: Dr. Priscilla Winder (wife of Mr. Baumberger and 2001 HBOI Intern), Logan Baumberger, Mr. Chip Baumberger (2002 HBOI Link Intern), and Ms. Marilyn C. Link



Dr. Lee R. Lynd, Special Advisor to the Link Foundation Board, Link Foundation Energy Fellowship Program Administrator, 1984 Link Foundation Energy Fellow, and he currently serves as the Paul and Joan Queneau Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Adjunct Professor of Biology at Dartmouth College, Director and Chief Scientific Officer of Mascoma Corporation, Focus Area Leader for Biomass Deconstruction and Conversion at the Department of Energy Bioenergy Science Center, Initiator and Executive Committee Coordinator of the Global Sustainable Bioenergy Project, and Professor Extraordinary of Microbiology at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

Dr. Lynd was a Link Foundation Energy Fellow during the first year that Energy Fellowships were offered in 1984.  "The Fellowship came at a time when I did not have support for my graduate work," stated Dr. Lynd.  "Thus for me, the Link Fellowship was an important factor in letting me pursue my vision for a thesis involving cellulosic biofuels."

Dr. Lynd has followed this vision for his entire professional life.  Today he is the Paul and Joan Queneau Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Adjunct Professor of Biology at Dartmouth College, Director and Chief Scientific Officer of Mascoma Corporation, Focus Area Leader for Biomass Deconstruction and Conversion at the Department of Energy Bioenergy Science Center, Initiator and Executive Committee Coordinator of the Global Sustainable Bioenergy Project, and Professor Extraordinary of Microbiology at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. 

Dr. Lynd is a leading expert on utilization of plant biomass for production of energy, with distinctively broad contributions spanning the science, technology, and policy domains, including leading research on fundamental and biotechnological aspects of microbial cellulose utilization.  A frequently invited presenter on technical and strategic aspects of biomass energy, Dr. Lynd has three times testified before the United States Senate, and has been featured in prominent fora such as Wired, Forbes, Nova, and the Nobel Conference.

The Link Foundation was among the first to recognize Dr. Lynd, but hardly the last.  Dr. Lynd  is the 2011 recipient of the Mines Medal of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology for contributions to engineering or science, and prestigious contributions toward resolution or understanding of the technological challenges that impact society, the inaugural recipient of the Lemelson-MIT Sustainability Prize, recipient of the Charles D. Scott Award for distinguished contributions to the field of biotechnology for fuels and chemicals, and two-time recipient of the Charles A. Lindbergh Award in recognition of efforts to promote a balance between environmental preservation and technological advancement.

Commenting on his involvement with the Link Foundation, Dr. Lynd observes, "As Administrator of the Link Foundation’s Energy Fellowship program, I am delighted and honored to be able to play a part in supporting graduate students in the critically important energy field.  I take particular pleasure in knowing that receipt of a Link Fellowship may enable young researchers to pursue their dream as it did for me.  I only wish we could give more fellowships.  These days, we are getting about 100 of the strongest applicants in North America and we only award 3 fellowships, although many more are deserving.  I would be delighted to find ways to bring more funds to this outstanding program."


Dr. Donna F. Wilt, Special Advisor to the Link Foundation Board of Trustees, Link Foundation Advanced Simulation and Training Fellowship Program Administrator, 1995 Link Fellow in Advanced Simulation and Training, and she currently serves as Associate Professor in the College of Aeronautics at Florida Institute of Technology

Dr. Wilt has a lifelong passion for aviation and engineering.  She was first able to pursue this passion when she worked with aircraft simulators at NASA Langley Research Center while completing a BS in electrical engineering at the University of Florida.  She worked on programs to apply the technology from military and airline simulations to the smaller aircraft used in general aviation operations.  Here she developed a lifelong goal of making flying safer overall, while taking advantage of the safe and less expensive environment of a device that simulates the relevant aspects of the aircraft and environment.

As her career progressed, Dr. Wilt found herself drawn more to the training aspects of aviation as opposed to engineering design.  She eventually become an Air Transport Pilot, Master Certified Flight Instructor, and Gold Seal Flight Instructor focusing on the beginning, or ab-initio, pilot training.  The advent of the personal computer opened new opportunities for creating flight training devices (FTD) that were substantially more capable but less expensive than in the past thereby making it available to a segment of aviation where simulators had previously not been cost effective.

At the time she was ready to pursue a doctorate, there were no PhD programs in the US in aeronautics or flight training so she pursued a PhD in Science Education at Florida Institute of Technology.  Dr. Wilt’s PhD research was on the forefront of how to teach higher-order cognitive skills, such as situation awareness and decision making, to beginning pilots using low-cost FTDs.

Dr. Wilt explained, “the Science Education Department was doing research in computer-based training, but had not done research in the area of flight training.  The Link Foundation’s Advanced Simulation and Training Fellowship gave me the freedom and ability to pursue an area of research that aligned with my passion for aviation and my goal of making aviation safer.”

Dr. Wilt holds a BS degree from the University of Florida, a MS degree in Electrical Engineering and a PhD degree in Science Education from Florida Institute of Technology.

Today, Dr. Wilt is Associate Professor in the College of Aeronautics at Florida Institute of Technology where they offer bachelor, masters, and will soon offer doctorate aviation programs that integrate simulators and advanced flight training devices into the flight training programs and the applied aviation research.  Dr. Wilt also serves as chair of the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE) Board of Directors, a position which she was elected to in July 2014.

She served on the Link Foundation’s Advanced Simulation and Training Fellowship Selection Committee prior to becoming the Fellowship Program Administrator in 2012.  She is proud to participate in selecting the newest Advanced Simulation and Training Fellows.


The Link Foundation is pleased to have made a difference in the lives and careers of many including Dr. Jerald, Dr. Dou, Mr. Baumberger, Dr. Lynd, Dr. Wilt and many others who have received Link Foundation Fellowships/Internships/Scholarships over the last sixty-one years.  We count it a privilege to continue our association with them today.

We are proud of all of our Link Fellows/Interns/Scholars and of the vital contributions that they have made, and continue to make, in the advancement of simulation and training, ocean engineering and instrumentation, and energy resources development and conservation, throughout their careers.  These discoveries are increasingly valuable to the world in which we live and significantly impact the advancement and security of our nation in important ways. 

If you are or were a Link Fellow/Intern/Scholar, we would love to hear from you!  Please write to us!  We would be honored to tell your story on our page!