John Parmentola, Ph.D.
About The Member
John Parmentola has built a highly distinguished career over four decades as an entrepreneur, inventor, innovator, a pioneer in the founding of new fields of research, and leader of complex research and development organizations with broad experience in the private sector, academia and high-level positions within the federal government and defense community.
Currently, he is a consultant to a non-profit think tank where he works on major defense, energy, and science and technology assessment, strategy and planning issues for government agencies both domestic and foreign.
As Senior Vice President at General Atomics, he led the California-based technology company’s Energy and Advanced Concepts Group, focusing on energy, defense, advanced computing and management of DIII-D National Fusion Facility, the largest such facility in the United States (U.S.). The Group’s innovations include a revolutionary waste-burning compact advanced reactor, meltdown proof nuclear fuel, setting new land-speed records with maglev systems and building the world’s most powerful superconducting electromagnet for the largest fusion experiment in the world, ITER. While at GA, Dr. Parmentola invented a revolutionary new airship that could provide wireless communications for 1.4 billion people worldwide currently without this capability.
As a distinguished senior executive in the Pentagon, Dr. Parmentola served as Director for Research and Laboratory Management for the U.S. Army, directing lab management policy for 12,000 employees, infrastructure and security for all 21 Army laboratories and research, development and engineering centers, and led base realignment and closure efforts for the Army. He also oversaw a $1-billion combined budget for basic and applied research, manufacturing technologies, small business innovative research, and high-performance computing programs.
During his tenure with the Army, Dr. Parmentola led the creation and development of a number of remarkable research centers, among them the Institute of Creative Technologies, which won an Oscar for its technical contributions to cinematography and the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies, which supported the work of Frances Arnold, who was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the 5th women in history to receive the prize. Tasked by General Eric Shinseki, he led the creation of a new “Science Fair for the Nation”, eCybermission, which for the past 17 years has inspired middle and high school students nationwide (including U.S. territories and possessions) in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. Also, while serving in the Pentagon, Dr. Parmentola conceived and led the development of the world’s first robotic dog that could see and sniff explosives. This remarkable robotic system saved the lives of soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is one of the Army’s ten greatest inventions.
As a Chief Scientist, Dr. Parmentola served as science and technology advisor to the chief financial officer of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), where he provided technical, budgetary, and programmatic advice to DOE leaders for more than $7B in science and technology investments.
He also co-founded the Advanced Systems and Concepts Office of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to address major national challenges concerning the threat of weapons of mass destruction. This included his leadership role in conducting two major studies on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty for President Clinton. He received official confirmation from General John Shalikashvili that these studies contributed to the security of the nation.
He has been on the faculty of M.I.T., West Virginia University, a Fellow of the John F. Kennedy School of Government and a Principal Scientist for Strategic Command, Control, and Communications at the MITRE Corporation. While working for these organizations, he made contributions to fundamental science in high-energy physics and nuclear physics, strategic nuclear operations, and led the creation and development of the world’s most sensitive mobile gravity gradiometer for arms control verification applications. This device is used today in oil and mineral exploration and the discovery of diamond deposits.
His work in the private sector includes the co-founding of Travel Media Corp. (TMC), serving as TMC’s chief financial officer, and chief technology officer for over 20 years. TMC specialized in the production and distribution of in-room magazines for leading hotels and resorts, including Marriott, Renaissance, Hyatt, Hilton, Radisson and Westin throughout the Caribbean, Latin America and Hawaii. TMC also published a Spanish language version of Departures Magazine, Expressions, for American Express. Other TMC clients included Air Aruba Airlines and Copa Airlines of Panama.
Born in the Bronx, New York, Dr. Parmentola earned a bachelor’s of science in physics cum laude from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, and his doctorate in physics from MIT. Dr. Parmentola received the 2007 Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive from President George W. Bush for his service to the nation. He was also an Air Intelligence Agency nominee for the R. V. Jones Central Intelligence Agency award for his work in arms control verification, and a recipient of the Outstanding Civilian Service Award and the Superior Civilian Service Award for his contributions to the U.S. Army. He is an Honorary Member of the U.S. Army STs. He is a recipient of the Alfred Raymond Prize and the Sigma XI Research Award and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has presented and published more than 500 speeches, papers, and articles in science and technology policy and is the author of an authoritative book on space defense.