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Marla L. Dowell (Fed)

Director of NIST Communications Technology Laboratory and NIST Boulder Laboratory

Marla Dowell is Director of the NIST Communications Technology Laboratory (CTL) and NIST Boulder Laboratory. NIST has a long role in advanced wireless communications going back over 100 years, to the development of the first radios running on AC electricity and radio triangulation techniques used during World War I. Today, NIST CTL serves as the leader for advanced communications standards and measurements, enabling dramatic changes in how consumers, manufacturers, governments, and others provide and consume information, transact business, provide and use essential services, among many other tasks. NIST CTL works closely with its partners in industry, academia, and across the federal government to address the insatiable societal demand for connectivity, one that requires significant advancements in communication technologies.

Dr. Dowell has served the broader NIST community as a member of the NIST Assessment Review Board, NIST Safety Council, and the NIST People Council. For over 15 years, she has served as a mentor in NIST leadership programs and has learned a great deal from mentees on the changing workforce needs. In addition, she has represented NIST on national and international standards committees for optics and photonics as well as external advisory committees on research innovation, photonics, and communications. 

Dr. Dowell's breadth of technical expertise and superior people management skills have been recognized by several prestigious awards: Department of Commerce Silver Medal, NIST Equal Employment Opportunity/Diversity Award, Judson C. French Award, Allen V. Astin Award, and the Arthur S. Flemming Award from George Washington University.

Dr. Dowell is a fellow of SPIE, senior member of IEEE, and a member of AAAS, AAUW, and APS.


2016 SPIE Women in Optics
2012 Allen V. Astin Award
2010 Arthur S. Flemming Award
2005 NIST Equal Employment Opportunity/Diversity Award
2005 Department of Commerce Silver Medal
2000 Judson C. French Award



Radio Spectrum Occupancy Measurements Amid COVID-19 Telework and Telehealth

Dan Kuester, Xifeng Lu, Dazhen Gu, Azizollah Kord, Jake Rezac, Katie Carson, Marla L. Dowell, Elizabeth Eyeson, Ari Feldman, Keith Forsyth, Vu Le, John Marts, Mike McNulty, Kyle Neubarth, Andre Rosete, Matthew Ryan, Maija Teraslina
During the COVID-19 pandemic, NIST began a targeted campaign of measurements of averaged power and occupancy rate in the radio spectrum. The purpose was to

A Planar Hyperblack Absolute Radiometer

John H. Lehman, Michelle S. Stephens, Malcolm G. White, Andreas Steiger, Christian Monte, Joerg Hollandt, Ivan Ryger, Mathias Kehrt, Marla L. Dowell
The absolute responsivity of a planar radiometer fabricated from micromachined silicon and having carbon nanotubes as the absorber and thermistor was measured

Laser Welding of Dual-Phase Galvanized Sheet Steel

Stephanie L. Miller, Erik A. Pfeif, Andrei F. Kazakov, Esther Baumann, Marla L. Dowell
Laser welding has many advantages over traditional joining methods, but remains underutilized. NIST has undertaken an initiative to improve predictions of
Created July 30, 2019, Updated February 2, 2023