Khanh D. Pham, Ph.D.

Inducted October 2023


In recognition of Khanh D. Pham, Ph.D., for his pioneering leadership in the Air Force’s enterprise-wide modeling and simulation (M&S) initiatives, which significantly influenced flight experimentation and in-flight formation, thereby fundamentally shaping modern simulation capabilities utilized today.

As an expert in the field, Dr. Pham contributed to cutting-edge antenna technologies, timing and frequency subsystems, and conducted independent technical risk assessments for satellite communications programs; and his efforts yielded a crucial influence on emerging military space cooperation. The training tools he developed for space pursuit-evasion M&S established the groundwork for collision avoidance space experimentation within the Department of Defense. He spearheaded scientific advancements in statistical optimal control and game-theoretical operations, particularly within the space domain, encompassing awareness, autonomy, and satellite communications.

Dr. Pham’s MS&T research and groundbreaking findings had immeasurable effects on national security, extending across the space mission, the Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security.


Dr. Khanh Pham was born in Saigon, Vietnam, and immigrated with his family to the U.S. in the early 1990s. Barely speaking English when he arrived, Dr. Pham attended high school in Lincoln, Nebraska, and then Southeast Community College, where he earned an associate degree of applied science with highest honors in electronic systems technology. He went on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Nebraska. In 2004, he received his doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

He went to work for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), where he employed systems-theoretic science, control engineering principles, and game-theoretic operations research paradigms to solve the Air Force’s top engineering problems and capability priorities. Dr. Pham’s pioneering research has also contributed to the development of novel statistical optimal control and game-theoretical operations research for space domain awareness, space control autonomy, and military satellite communications.

Dr. Pham has shared his insights and experience in the field through his publication history, having authored 32 journal articles, 29 book chapters, over 280 conference proceedings, and two research monographs as the sole researcher. He is also the inventor of 26 U.S. patent awards with 27 U.S. patent disclosures.

His contributions to the Air Force and the greater research community have earned him multiple national awards over the years. In 2020, he was the first Vietnamese American to be named “fellow of the AFRL.” This honor is given to only 0.2 percent of AFRL’s 5,000 professional technical staff each year and is the AFRL’s highest award.

Dr. Pham is currently a principal aerospace engineer in the Geospace Technologies Division at the AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate. He also serves as the Air Force’s principal scientific authority and independent researcher in space control & command autonomy, space situational awareness, assured satellite communications, and resilient satellite navigation.