Ralph Semmel, a widely-respected expert on database systems and artificial intelligence, will head the Applied Information Sciences Department, a new division at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., created to respond to the rapid evolution of information technology.
In the past three years alone, the Laboratory's work in the area of infocentric operations has doubled, and includes pivotal roles in the development of key government networks such as the Global Information Grid, the next-generation information technology architecture to be used by the Department of Defense and the intelligence community.
"Information technology has become increasingly important to the Lab and its sponsors," says Semmel, who assumes leadership of the new department and of APL's Infocentric Operations Business Area today. "The AIS department will serve as a resource for all Lab business areas that have needs in computing, networking, information security, and related information sciences areas."
While new and growing rapidly, AISD is starting with 350 people, most of whom were on the IO team in APL's Power Projection Systems Department. It will build upon that team's work to meet the challenges of providing assured access to, swift exploitation of and targeted action against critical information to enhance the nation's security.
Drawing heavily on resources from across the Lab — National Security Analysis, Global Engagement, Air Defense Systems and Research and Technology Development departments — the IO business area has helped various intelligence organizations develop agile and technologically responsive information-based environments. Moreover, for several years, the Lab has performed systems engineering for a wide variety of DoD communications activities, especially in the areas of satellite communications, strategic communications assessment, and communications for combat casualty care.
"We see our relationships with DoD and the intelligence community thriving and growing stronger," notes Semmel. "And we are looking to leverage our associations to enhance our contributions to newer sponsors," including the Department of Homeland Security.
A TECHNOLOGY LEADER
APL Director Rich Roca says Semmel was instrumental in leading efforts to build the IO business area into a core business for the Lab. "Over the past three years, he has led a dynamic, rapidly growing business area and staff that have reached a level of capability and contribution warranting establishment of a department," Roca notes. "Ralph has worked closely with Laboratory leaders to leverage expertise from across APL to support infocentric operations programs and to provide infocentric operations expertise in support of other business areas. This will be of increasing importance as our sponsors apply ever advancing information technologies to address key intelligence and war-fighting problems."
Semmel, a resident of Columbia, Md., holds a bachelor's degree in engineering from the U.S. Military Academy, a master's degree in systems management from the University of Southern California, a master's in computer science from The Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. He has conducted significant research and development in a broad range of information technology areas. In management roles, he has developed and led numerous programs sponsored by a variety of government organizations. Recently, for example, he led an influential and highly visible national study on the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure.
During the past three years he served as the Lab's business area executive for Infocentric Operations and assistant department head in the Power Projection Systems Department for infocentric operations. During his 19 years at the Lab, he has held increasingly responsible line and program management assignments. Prior to his most recent assignment, Semmel served as deputy director of the Research and Technology Development Department and as business area executive for Science and Technology, where he played a key role in establishing and guiding strategic APL initiatives in information technology. Semmel also serves as chair of both the Computer Science and Information Systems and Technology professional graduate programs for JHU.
"AISD is a dream come true for many of us who have been working in the information sciences at APL," declares Semmel, "and we look forward to playing a key role for the Lab in developing solutions to the nation's most pressing information-based problems."