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NEWS | Aug. 9, 2022

NSWCDD Honors Rising HSI Employee with the G. Dennis White Award

By NSWCDD Corporate Communications

“At this rate, the Navy will have no problems left to solve.” These are the words of Dr. Emily Stoneham for her nomination of Emily Johnson, F/A-18 Human Factors Lead from Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, for the 2022 Naval Laboratory and Centers Coordinating Group G. Dennis White Early Career Human Systems Integration (HSI) Practitioner Award. According to the award, recipients must show “excellence in the pursuit of developing safe and effective systems for the Warfighter.”

Dr. Brett Seidle, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy Research, Development, Test and Engineering, presented the award to Johnson and spoke to the legacy of the late White. “It was pretty clear to me that during his almost 40 years of service, he made a huge impact on others,” said Seidle. “Not only did Dennis make a huge impact during his life, but he is still making an impact here today.”

The G. Dennis White Award is in honor of Dennis White, who passed in 2017, and his legacy to HSI. White’s daughter, Bridget, spoke to her father’s legacy and love for helping develop the next wave of leadership. “I think when he came into HSI, it was one of those things that grew with him as he grew as a leader within the civilian government,” White said. “He saw an opportunity, which was to take younger people – who were younger at least in their careers even if not younger in age – and give them opportunities to not just learn, but also to put into practice all of the different attributes of cooperation, courageousness, proactivity, flexibility and persistence.”

“Consistently since he passed, I have had nothing but people come and tell me and give me examples of how extraordinary he was,” White said. “I think for me what this award does is remind me that one person can actually make a huge difference not only in the lives of other people, but on an institution, on a discipline and ultimately on the lives of sailors. It is important to continue recognizing early career practitioners and enable them to do their job to the best of their ability with encouragement and guidance,” White stated.

As a Navy kid, Johnson bounced around the country and the world to many different places, but ended up calling China Lake home. She received her bachelor’s of psychology with emphasis in neuroscience from Pacific University, and is currently working to obtain her master’s in human factors with an emphasis in systems engineering from Embry-Riddle Online. She began her journey at China Lake just shy of three years ago, where her supervisor quickly noticed her passion and dedication for the job. “I went into this position not knowing anything really because I worked with neuroscience,” Johnson noted. “I had not really dealt with the cognitive side of psychology which is a lot of what we focus on. So it was a huge learning curve. It was really fun though to navigate.”

Johnson has even begun giving back to the next wave of employees. “I actually wrote everything down as I was doing it so I could teach other people who are coming in because it is hard to understand and adjust when you first start, so I’ve developed some resources for new individuals. I learn pretty quickly, and I like to pass that knowledge along as I learn it,” Johnson said.

Johnson was recognized for “implementing human integrations into the Enterprise Data Fusion’s team agile processes in a positive manner,” according to the letter of recognition. Johnson expressed it was a total surprise to find out she was the award winner. “It is such an honor! I was so surprised and there were definitely some happy tears.”

Since 2017, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division continues to honor White’s legacy and service with the presentation of the award to one outstanding individual who exemplifies qualities of cooperativity, courageousness, proactivity, flexibility and persistence.