Ralph Semmel, a widely respected expert on database
systems and artificial intelligence, will head the
Laboratory's Applied Information Sciences Department, a
new division created to respond to the rapid evolution of
In the past three years alone, APL'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," said Semmel, who
assumed leadership of the new department and of APL's
Infocentric Operations Business Area last week. "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, the Applied Information
Sciences Department is starting with 350 people, most of
whom were on the IO team in the 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
— the 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,"
Semmel said, "and we are looking to leverage our
associations to enhance our contributions to newer
sponsors." Among these, he said, is the Department of
Rich Roca, director of APL, said 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 said. "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 holds a bachelor's degree in engineering from
the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a master's degree
in systems management from the University of Southern
California, a master's in computer science from Johns
Hopkins and a doctorate in computer science from the
University of Maryland, Baltimore County. 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 government
organizations; recently, for example, he led an influential
and highly visible national study on the U.S.
During the past three years Semmel 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 the JHU School of Engineering.
"AISD is a dream come true for many of us who have
been working in the information sciences at APL," Semmel
said, "and we look forward to playing a key role for the
Lab in developing solutions to the nation's most pressing