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For Immediate Release
February 16, 2010

Media Contacts:

Michael Buckley
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
(240) 228-7536 or (443) 778-7536

Sommerer to Head Space Department at Johns Hopkins APL

John C. Sommerer has been appointed head of the Space Department at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.

Sommerer had been acting department head since August 2008; he formally assumes leadership of one of APL’s largest departments, with nearly 700 technical experts tackling some of NASA's and the military's toughest space science and systems engineering challenges.

“John's strength as a manager, scientist and leader has been evident as he has led the successful continuation of our space programs over the past 18 months,” says APL Director Richard T. Roca. “As we have just celebrated the 50th anniversary of APL's Space Department, I look forward with great excitement to the future achievements of the department under its new leadership.”

Building on a legacy that began with the Laboratory’s creation of Transit, the first satellite navigation system, APL has dispatched spacecraft and instruments across the solar system. Probes are currently en route to Mercury and Pluto while hi-tech sensors are scanning the moon, Mars and Saturn. The Lab is building twin satellites that will analyze the belts of radiation swirling around Earth, and developing a heat-fortified spacecraft that will fly through the Sun’s outer atmosphere to study the origins and behavior of the solar wind.

Last year APL achieved AS9100 certification, demonstrating that its civilian and national security space business, safety and mission assurance activities align with the highest standards of the aerospace community.

“Although I’ve always greatly admired the achievements of the APL space team, my experience over the past 18 months allowed me to appreciate it at a much deeper level – and I’m honored and excited to be a member of that team,” Sommerer says.
Sommerer will also 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 its science and technology thrust. 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 programs.

An internationally recognized expert in nonlinear dynamics and complex systems, Sommerer has served on several National Academies chartered technical advisory bodies, and is currently chair of the Naval Research Advisory Committee, the Navy’s senior science advisory body. He holds a doctorate and master's degree in physics from the University of Maryland and The Johns Hopkins University, respectively, and master's and bachelor's degrees in systems science and mathematics from Washington University in St. Louis. He lives in Laurel, Md.

John C. Sommerer



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