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Posted 12/7/2017

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By Holly Kuzmitski
ERDC PAO


VICKSBURG, Miss. (Dec. 7, 2017)--Dr. David W. Pittman, director of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, recently announced the selection of five ERDC team members for promotion to DB-V, the laboratory demonstration project equivalent to the General Schedule 15 level.

Dr. Mark Adley and Denis Rickman, Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory; Dr. Michael Case, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory; Dr. Natalia Viñas and Dr. Ping Gong, Environmental Laboratory, were chosen in a four-phase process that takes into account a variety of factors, including the ability to lead, job history, program/project development and significant projects and publications.  A comprehensive application packet is submitted by those who wish to be considered for the DB-V level.  It is estimated that less than one-third of those who apply are selected.  For most, it is the highest achievable rung on the career ladder and only 130 such positions exist within ERDC.

Dr. Mark Adley

Adley, a research civil engineer in GSL’s Impact and Explosion Effects Branch, conceives, initiates, and leads various research and development efforts that investigate analytical and computational modeling methods for predicting weapon threats to military and civilian infrastructure and personnel.

Adley is an expert in penetration mechanics, material modeling, computational mechanics, and weapons effects; he is also an internationally recognized code developer. 

An ERDC employee since 1990, one of Adley’s foremost achievements is the development of the PENCURV+ suite of codes, which includes the PENCRV3D trajectory code. The PENCURV+ code is the pre-eminent penetration code routinely used by engineers and analysts throughout the Department of Defense and Department of Energy  and by many aerospace companies.  

Adley is the ERDC science and technology subject matter expert, collaborating with the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate, an important strategic science and technology partner and customer to the ERDC. In his capacity as a senior SME, he has collaborated on numerous research programs and fostered important relationships with researchers from the numerous DOD organizations located at Eglin AFB.  

In 2017, he was the recipient of two ERDC Research and Development Awards; one for his work with the Virtual Material Laboratory Code, and the other for his work on soil modeling. 

Adley holds a bachelor’s and master’s from the University of New Hampshire and a doctorate from the University of Rhode Island. He is also a registered professional engineer.

Adley has authored or co-authored more than 90 publications, including more than 25 refereed articles.   

“It has been a blessing and a privilege to work at the ERDC all these years, and I feel honored to be the recipient of a DB-V promotion at an organization that is home to so many world-class research and development efforts,” Adley said. “I hope to continue to participate in ERDC’s work for many years to come.” 

Denis Rickman

Rickman is a research physicist in GSL’s Research Group, Engineer Systems & Materials Division, and is a recognized subject matter expert in the areas of explosion effects phenomena and blast instrumentation.

Two projects in particular stand out as career accomplishments. He worked on the E-1 Test Facility Blast/Acoustic Mitigation Tools Assessment effort conducted for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Engineer Safety Center.  This project solved an important blast hazard mitigation problem, and provided him with the opportunity to collaborate with a number of research fellows and other leading academics from five of NASA's space centers.  Another outstanding effort has been the CALDERA project. Throughout this project, he was part of a group of researchers at ERDC working to develop methods to improve forensic assessments of improvised explosive device attacks against US/allied military vehicles. This effort has resulted in tremendous improvements achieved: a product that the sponsor is using extensively, and which is already having a positive impact keeping US/allied soldiers safer in areas of conflict.

In 2013, he was the recipient of NASA Engineering Safety Center Group Achievement Award; in 2010 he was the recipient of ERDC’s Research & Development Achievement Award. 

He started his ERDC employment in 1983, with the Instrumentation Services Division, which later became part of the Information Technology Laboratory. He transferred to the old Structures Laboratory in 1985.

Rickman has led a number of teams over the course of his career. Team sizes and participants have varied with each project, ranging from three to four to over 20. Participants include GSL, ITL, CHL, other Army, DOD and DOE laboratories, and international research agencies.

He manages projects with total annual funding typically ranging from $2-4 million, and customers include the Bureau of Reclamation, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Office of Naval Research, National Ground Intelligence Center, and Department of Homeland Security.

Rickman holds a bachelor’s from Texas A&M, and a master’s from Mississippi State University.

"I am humbled to have been selected for this promotion," Rickman said. "I am grateful to all the great co-workers and colleagues I've encountered throughout my ERDC career, because without them this achievement would not have been possible."

Dr. Michael Case

Case, a research mechanical engineer in CERL’s Energy Branch, provides scientific and technical leadership to teams comprised of personnel from multiple ERDC laboratories, federal agencies, universities, and the private sector to address challenges facing fixed and forward bases.  

An ERDC employee since 1984, Case’s work has resulted in algorithms and tools, such as the Systems Master Planning/Net Zero Planner Tool, that have been applied to over 50 Installation sustainability projects in the last four years, including those for the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Marine Corps, the National Security Agency, and NASA. In support of forward bases, he also leads the Automated Construction of Expeditionary Structures 3-D building printing program that -printed the largest concrete building fabricated on-site in the U.S. in June of 2017.  

He is widely published, with 17 refereed publications, six book chapters and 22 technical reports — including a best paper award from ASHRAE in 2016.  He also is listed on three patents pending for work on the 3-D concrete printing.

In 2016, he was the recipient of the CERL Researcher of the Year Award; his team received a 2016 U.S. Presidential Green Innovation award for work on SMPL/NZP.

Case holds a bachelor’s from Cornell University, and a master’s and a doctorate from the University of Illinois.  

“I deeply appreciate the efforts of the many people who helped and encouraged me during the preparation of my dossier, especially my division chief, Don Hicks; my branch chief, Andy Nelson; Dr. Kumar, Dr. Topudurti and Dr. Westervelt,“ Case said. “In addition, I feel energized and even more motivated to assist the younger scientists and engineers at ERDC in their career progression.”

Dr. Natalia Garcia Reyero Viñas

Viñas is a research biologist in EL’s Environmental Processes Branch. She is an internationally recognized leader in the fields of ecotoxicology, ecological toxicogenomics, and predictive toxicology. She provides innovative solutions to customer problems in environmental sustainability by identifying critical needs, developing an R&D vision, and leading teams of scientists to solve complex challenges to minimize the impact of chemicals on Army and civilian activities. 

Her leadership of military material Rapid Hazard Assessment and Next Generation Predictive Ecotoxicology has resulted in new technologies and computational tools that enable the Army to assess environmental health hazards of new materials such as energetics and nanomaterials early in the development process.

Viñas has authored or co-authored 80 papers, 10 book chapters, and edited two books.

Her portfolio includes approximately $2 million annually in funding for customers, including 6.1, 6.2/6.3 funds, and other funding sources, such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

In 2015, she received two US Environmental Protection Agency Scientific and Technological Achievement Awards; the first for developing biological tools for monitoring impacted surface waters in support of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and the second for development and application of novel in situ omic techniques for advancing the Environmental Protection Agency’s capability to assess chemical risk.

Viñas, who began her career at ERDC in 2014, holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Universitat de Girona (Catalunya, Spain) and a doctorate from Universitat de Barcelona (Spain).

“I am honored and delighted about my promotion to DB-V,” Viñas said. “I am looking forward to many more years of exciting research and development at ERDC for the Army and the nation.”

Dr. Ping Gong

Gong, a research biologist in EL’s Environmental Processes Branch, is an internationally recognized expert in toxicogenomics, bioinformatics, and mechanistic toxicology, and an ERDC SME in genetic engineering, molecular biology, and computational/predictive toxicology.

He built multidisciplinary research teams around projects and established a strong research program at ERDC centered on mechanistic toxicology and biotechnology development. Gong pioneered earthworm toxicogenomics and built up new ERDC capabilities in toxicogenomics, bioinformatics, and predictive toxicology.

He established a global network of collaboration with prominent researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, King’s College London, Vrije University Amsterdam, Nanjing University, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
He executed more than 20 multi-year research projects worth $18 million and developed nine novel bioinformatics or computational biology tools. He has disseminated his research findings in 35 peer-reviewed journal articles, 10 full-length, peer-reviewed conference proceedings, one book chapter, and 86 conference presentations.

Gong, who began his federal career at ERDC in 2014, holds a bachelor’s from Peking University and a doctorate from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

“Originality and novelty are the two greatest drivers in my research activities throughout my professional career,” Gong said. “By maintaining a good balance between basic and applied research, I have ensured the continuity of creativity and innovation and created a continuum in the transition of basic research results to applied research products.”