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Marine’s thesis honored with multiple student awards

Marine Corps Capt. Courtney Thompson presents the details of her thesis during the latest Big Ideas Exchange, May 16. Thompson’s analysis of how combat loads impact effectiveness proved to be one of the top theses of the quarter, earning both the Navy League Award as well as the MORS Stephen A. Tisdale Thesis Award.

The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Department of Operations Research (OR) awarded Marine Corps Capt. Courtney Thompson the Military Operations Research Society (MORS) Stephen A. Tisdale Thesis Award for her analysis on how the weight of a combat load impacts Marines on the battlefield, May 16.

Four students from the OR department’s graduating class were selected to present their theses to a panel of judges. Following the detailed presentations and extensive deliberations, the judges recognized Thompson’s work as the project with the highest potential near-term impact on the service.

“I am both honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Thompson. “The entire group graduating this year worked so hard on their theses, so I was not expecting to even be a finalist knowing the group in which I was competing.”

Thompson’s thesis explored how the amount of combat gear a Marine can carry affects their combat effectiveness. Thompson noted that just 15 pounds can dramatically affect how a Marine operates in combat.

“Marines always have to be prepared to engage with the enemy,” stated Thompson. “In doing so they typically have personal protective equipment, weapons and other gear. Ultimately, the goal is to make those Marines as lethal and survivable as possible, and my thesis works towards that same goal.”

It’s a topic, Thompson says, that has been getting a fair share of attention recently.

“The commanding general of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab is asking for my research and results,” Thompson said. “I also worked with a few people at Marine Corps Systems Command who've been looking at this problem specifically so they may use it to help support their further research.”

The Tisdale Award is actually the second quarterly award to go to Thompson in recognition of her research. The soon-to-be alumna will be joined several of her peers on the NPS Quarterdeck on Tuesday, June 4, where she will be presented with the Navy League Award for Highest Academic Achievement, the top academic award of the quarter.

The MORS/Tisdale award is named in honor of Lt. Cmdr. Stephen A. Tisdale, a dual-degree graduate of NPS in 1989 who perished in a military aircraft accident on March 21, 1991, while serving with Patrol Squadron 50 off the coast of California. Tisdale’s outstanding and influential thesis, “Assessing Optimal Utilization of Potential Anti-Satellite Architectures,” won the MORS prize for his graduating class, and he was also recognized as the top Space Systems Operations student as well.

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