FB: New top scientist. Air Force hires Greg Zacharias as head science adviser.

Greg Zacharias, a former airman who served as an attache for the space shuttle program, will be the service's 35th top scientist.

Zacharias, president and senior principal scientist of technology firm Charles River Analytics in Cambridge, Mass., will serve for two years as the top science adviser for the Air Force secretary and chief of staff.

He takes over for previous chief scientist Mica Endsley.

"It was an offer I couldn't refuse and an opportunity to try and return something to the Air Force for all the opportunities it's given me since I was a second lieutenant assigned to Johnson Space Center back in the '70s," Zacharias said in a news release announcing the assignment.

Zacharias previously was a senior scientist at Raytheon BBN Technologies, and was a member of the National Research Council's Committee on Human Factors. He's a research affiliate of the MIT Man Vehicle Laboratory and the Humans and Automation Laboratory, and had previously been a member of the Air Force's Scientific Advisory Board, according to a Charles River biography. He completed a study for the Air Force on unmanned aircraft operations in irregular warfare.

Zacharias received his bachelor's, master's and doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"Science and technology are critical to the Air Force and having an independent voice with fresh ideas and approaches can make a tremendous difference," Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said in a release. "I know Dr. Zacharias will bring us novel and creative ideas to current and future challenges."

Endsley came into the position in June 2013, in the middle of sequestration, she told reporters during a Pentagon briefing last week. A main focus of her time has been the study of autonomy in weapons systems, an area she expects to grow within the service. Endlsey said she expects to release a report within weeks on the future of autonomous systems in the service to cap off her time with the Air Force.

After she finishes at the Pentagon, Endsley said she is returning to her position as president of firm SA Technologies, which has its headquarters in Mesa, Ariz.