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Ralph Semmel

Ralph Semmel
Director, Applied Physics Laboratory
The Johns Hopkins University

Director's Office
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
11100 Johns Hopkins Rd.
Laurel, Md. 20723-6099
Phone: (443) 778-5190 [from Washington, D.C.: (240) 228-5190]
Fax: (443) 778-5995 [from Washington, D.C.: (240) 228-5995]
E-mail: ralph.semmel@jhuapl.edu
Web page: www.jhuapl.edu/

Ralph D. Semmel became the eighth director of the Applied Physics Laboratory, the nation's largest not-for-profit University Affiliated Research Center, on July 1, 2010. APL conducts research and development on behalf of the Department of Defense, the intelligence community, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and other federal agencies. The laboratory also contributes technology and related expertise in various national security areas and in space science and exploration. A research division of the university, APL has more than 5,000 employees, more than two-thirds of whom are engineers and scientists.

Semmel has an extensive professional background in engineering, computer science, and research, and has served as a scientist, educator, and leader. He held a variety of technical and leadership positions as a U.S. Army officer from 1978 to 1984 before joining MITRE Corp., where he worked as a systems engineer concentrating on air traffic control system modernization. Moving to the Federal Systems Division of Wang Laboratories Inc. in 1985, he became a senior and then principal technical systems consultant, developing large-scale information systems for the Department of Defense and the State Department.

He joined the Johns Hopkins community in 1986 as an APL senior research scientist focused on creating artificial intelligence capabilities for complex systems. In 1995, he was appointed to the principal professional staff, APL's highest professional level, and became supervisor of the System and Information Sciences Group in APL's Milton S. Eisenhower Research and Technology Development Center. In 1999, he was selected as the center's deputy director and, in 2001, the laboratory's business area executive for science and technology, managing basic and applied research in information technology, sensor science, physics and modeling, and aeronautical science. In response to critical national cyber challenges, in 2002 Semmel was chosen to lead APL's newly established Infocentric Operations Business Area, which focuses on global information networks, information assurance, intelligence, and information operations. In 2005, he became the founding head of APL's Applied Information Sciences Department, leading some of the most dynamic and rapidly growing research activities of the laboratory.

A strong supporter of education, Semmel served from 1997 through 2010 as chair of the graduate programs in computer science, information assurance, and information systems engineering for The Johns Hopkins University's Engineering for Professionals program. He taught in the program from 1988 to 2001. He has more than 40 publications in the areas of artificial intelligence, database systems and software engineering, and he served on the editorial board of the International Journal of Software Engineering and Knowledge Engineering. He also has led and continues to serve on a variety of executive-level government science and technology boards, panels, and committees.

Semmel graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1978 with a bachelor of science degree in engineering. He earned a master's in systems management from the University of Southern California in 1981, a master's in computer science from The Johns Hopkins University in 1985 and a doctorate in computer science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, in 1992.

[Updated August 2010]

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