Lab bids farewell to director of the Human Research and Engineering Directorate
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory bids farewell to its director of the Human Research and Engineering Directorate today a retirement ceremony held at the Myer Auditorium at APG. More than 150 people attended the event to congratulate Dr. Laurel Allender on her nearly 33-year career.
The ceremony was hosted by ARL’s acting director, Dr. Philip Perconti. He shared some personal stories and offered his heartfelt congratulations to Allender and her family. He said it’s sad to see her go, but wished her well as she moves to the next chapter in life.
Allender’s son, Marcel de Pontbriand, provided a special reading that paved the way for his mother’s remarks. He read The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, which turns out to be Allender’s favorite poem.
Allender said the poem captures the story of the road that brought her to the stage today. She went on to share her many experiences that began in El Paso, Texas and took her to APG. She said the roads we take in life are really an interconnected network.
Allender thanked the many people she met along the roads she traveled and said a special thank you to the HRED workforce.
“Together we transformed the organization, but more importantly, you are transforming the future of science and technology, the future of the capabilities we will be putting in our Soldier’s hands. Keep up the amazing work,” said Allender.
She said from the beginning to the end of this road, the signs were clear — civil service and senior executive service; it’s all about service to the nation, to our Soldiers and to the science and application that can only happen here.
“Circling back to the start of this journey, it’s all about family,” said Allender as she thanked her children and her husband for making this journey with her.
The Army appointed Allender as HRED’s director in January 2011, after she served in an acting capacity since 2009. She led the Human Sciences Campaign of basic and applied research and advanced development spanning three core areas — human behavior, human capability enhancement and the integration of humans and systems.
Although headquartered at APG, Allender’s additional areas of responsibility included 22 sites co-located with the Training and Doctrine Command Centers of Excellence; the Research, Development and Engineering Centers; the Program Executive Offices and Program Managers; and most recently ARL West and ARL South.
Allender oversaw domain assessments for the Human Systems Integration Program in support of the Army G-1. In 2014, she served as the acting director of the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, a sister organization in the Research, Development and Engineering Command.
Allender began her career with the Army at the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences in 1984, first at Fort Bliss, Texas, Field Element, then in 1990, in Alexandria, Virginia. There she studied methods to manage Patriot operator workload and was part of the task force that established Manpower and Personnel Integration as a key part of the materiel system life cycle. She also assumed the management of the software system that became the Improved Performance Research Integration Tool, or IMPRINT. IMPRINT is a tool, developed in 1994, that became the first-ever accredited human performance modeling tool.
With the founding of ARL in 1992, Allender moved to APG. Her work spanned cognitive modeling, human-robot interaction and temporal cognition. She was an exchange scientist with Centre Facteurs Humains, Direction des Armements Terrestres, Etablissement Technique D’Angers, France, in 1994; led the Advanced Decision Collaborative Technology Alliance to its culmination in 2008, and served on the NATO HFM-RTG 128, Human Behaviour Representation in Constructive Simulation, winning the 2008 Scientific Achievement Award.
She obtained her doctorate from Rice University in 1987 where she met her future husband, Dr. Rene J. de Pontbriand. He retired from ARL HRED eight years ago as the associate director for Science and Technology.
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory, currently celebrating 25 years of excellence in Army science and technology, is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities for decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint Warfighter and the Nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Material Command.