John Sommerer is the first Director of Science and Technology to be appointed at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md.
In his new position, which became effective October 1, Sommerer is charged with ensuring APL's technological strength will meet current and future challenges in light of rapidly advancing technology and the globalization of technology and technical capabilities.
"Science and technology is APL's foundation for our current and future critical contributions to critical challenges facing our nation," Sommerer says. "By and large the Lab exists to deliver technical capability in the form of operationally oriented practical solutions to challenges facing our national security and space exploration sponsors."
Additionally, Sommerer will ensure the Lab's technical strategy is aligned with its various business area goals. "It's important for our business areas to focus on technical challenges of appropriate scope and significance, and I'll help to ensure that they have the right resources — both internal and external — to carry out their tasks," Sommerer says.
He will help form partnerships with outside organizations, JHU academic departments, and with other universities and high-tech laboratories to augment APL's skills and expertise so that the Lab can better meet a sponsor's needs. "It's incumbent on us to maintain and strengthen our technical prowess, and make sure the government doesn't experience technological surprise in the areas for which we serve as their chief advisors," Sommerer says.
He will continue serving as the Lab's Chief Technology Officer and Chair of APL's Science and Technology Council, which sets policy and provides direction for the Lab in this area. As CTO, Sommerer is responsible for the development and oversight of APL technology strategy; for managing the Lab's internally funded research and development program; and overseeing the Lab's technology transfer and education programs.
Sommerer is an internationally recognized expert in nonlinear dynamics and complex systems. During his 25-year career at APL, he served as director of the Lab's Milton S. Eisenhower Research and Technology Development Center, responsible for its operational management and scientific direction. He also served in other supervisory and project management roles associated with submarine technology, tactics and operations.
Sommerer is Vice Chair of the U.S. Naval Research Advisory Committee and a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Technical Assessment Board for the Army Research Laboratories. He holds a doctorate and master's degree in physics, and master's and bachelor's degrees in systems science and mathematics.
He is a resident of Silver Spring, Md.