FORT BELVOLIR, Va. –
Lindsey Hicks has served the Defense Logistics Agency as a pioneering chemist for over 30 years. He is currently the program manager leading DLA Research & Development’s Energy Readiness Program supporting the Defense Department’s bulk fuel and energy supply system. ERP’s strategic focus areas are fuel refining and distribution, fuel instability and contamination issues, and alternative fuel certification efforts.
ERP’s diverse projects examine different aspects of energy that affect DLA’s mission. One of several current initiatives is a partnership with the University of Maine converting forestry products, also known as “woody biomass,” into alternative fuels including synthetic crude oil. This synthetic crude oil is then refined and can be converted into jet fuel, diesel, or gasoline for the military services.
According to the career site, Zippia, only 8% of American chemists are African American. Hicks is honored to be among their ranks, having decided to pursue a career in chemistry as a high school student. In 1981, he received his chemistry degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in his native Richmond, Virginia.
The following year, Hicks joined the Army, dutifully following in the steps of veteran uncles who served in World War II and the Vietnam War. He served a three-year, active-duty tour as an instructor at the Seaman Petroleum Laboratory at Fort Lee, Virginia. As a reservist military personnel officer, he served a year in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“I received the Meritorious Service Medal during my time in Iraq,” he said. “I was recognized for mentoring younger soldiers by helping them acclimate to the environment and fostering their morale and each of their unique capabilities.”
In 2005, he retired as a chief warrant officer in the U.S. Army Reserve after 23 years of honorable military service.
As an Army veteran and DoD civilian chemist, Hicks’ desires to see others reach their greatest potential. He encourages targeting elementary school students with science, technology, engineering, and math programs to begin leveling the playing field across the hard sciences.
When asked what his favorite aspect of African American culture is, he did not hesitate to exclaim, “Music!” Like most people, Hicks enjoys the music of his youth. The sounds of Earth, Wind, and Fire, The Jacksons, The Commodores, and Motown have positively framed his life’s journey. “Although, the last concert I attended pre-pandemic was Fleetwood Mac,” he said with a chuckle.
He is only three generations removed from Emancipation and wishes he could have spoken to his live-in great-grandmother, who passed when he was 3 years old, more about her life experiences. He also admires the brave historical figures who’ve shaped the African American community and were instrumental in his personal and professional journeys.
Hicks is proud as he reflects on his life and career as a DLA gamechanger.
“DLA expanded my horizons through the people I’ve met, places I’ve worked and traveled, and the realms of science I’ve been exposed to,” he said.