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Posted 1/27/2015

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By By Michelle Stewart, ERDC PAO


VICKSBURG, Miss. - U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Director Dr. Jeffery Holland recently announced the selection of five team members for promotion to DB-V level, the laboratory demonstration project equivalent to the General Schedule 15 level.

Dr. Karl Indest, Environmental Laboratory (EL); Drs. Mihan McKenna and Dr. James O’Daniel, Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory (GSL); Dr. Julie Rosati, Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL); and Dr. Clint Smith, Geospatial Research Laboratory (GRL), 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 aspire 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 exists within ERDC.

Indest is a microbiologist in EL’s Environmental Process Laboratory.  His research expertise is focused on three areas: molecular microbiology and genomics of contaminant degradation; microbial bioproducts and biomaterials; and detection and characterization of microbial isolates and microbial communities.

Indest is team leader of the Environmental Microbiology Team, whose research has led to numerous firsts in the field, including the first in scientific literature to sequence the genome of an aerobic RDX-degrading bacteria and the first to demonstrate the phenomena of horizontal gene transfer for explosives-degrading genes.

His research has resulted in numerous successes in technology transfer.  He has appeared as lead or corresponding author on 17 of his 26 publications and in one book chapter.  Collectively, Indest’s work has been cited more than 300 times in peer-reviewed literature.

Indest’s research has revealed the impacts of military unique compounds on Soldiers and on the environment.  As a result, his discoveries have direct relevance to military and water safety regarding contamination, enhancing the Army’s ability to meet regulatory requirements and sustain training ranges.

He was recently selected as the vice president of the American Society for Microbiology South Central Branch.

“I am naturally excited,” said Indest.  “DBV was a long-term goal that I have been working toward and now that I have attained that goal, I feel a strong sense of accomplishment as well as a new sense of responsibility.  I also feel very fortunate to work with a talented group of researchers, for many of my accomplishments were team efforts.”

Indest, who began his career at ERDC in 2001, earned a bachelor’s from the University of New Orleans and a doctorate from Louisiana State University.

McKenna is a research geophysicist in GSL’s Structural Engineering Branch.  Her area of expertise is acquiring, interpreting and numerically modeling seismic, acoustic and infrasound sources and propagation phenomenology to support tactical decision making for forward deployed expeditionary forces.

McKenna, the USACE/ERDC 2013 Researcher of the Year, pioneered the new science of structural infrasound for ERDC.  She is both the program manager and lead investigator, bridging the disciplines of structural engineering and geophysical remote monitoring. McKenna specializes in the geophysical field of persistent infrasound monitoring, with a particular specialty in denied-area and structural monitoring, and is a recognized expert across the military, industry and academic communities, as well as an advisory member of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization for infrasound technologies.

She is in constant demand for invited lectures at professional conferences.  Her strong technical insight and planning guarantees that her research activities result in a steady stream of high-quality reports, presentations, referred journal articles and technology transfer products that have a direct impact on the Warfighter.

McKenna began her career at ERDC in 2005.  She earned a bachelor’s from Georgetown University and a doctorate from Southern Methodist University.  She is a registered professional geologist.

“I am pleased to have been selected,” McKenna said.  “I find great reward in the work that I do for ERDC, particularly the team with whom I work.  We do fascinating things in the realm of making the world a safer place, both for military and civilian aspects.  Not a day goes by that I don’t relish both the challenges and atmosphere in which I work.”

O’Daniel is a research structural engineer in GSL’s Structural Mechanics Branch.  He serves as an authoritative source of theoretical expertise and practical know-how in computational fluid dynamics, numerical coupling of fluid and structural dynamics, and constitutive model development. 

O’Daniel develops, leads and executes programs to solve problems in the vulnerability and survivability of structures subjected to blast and impact loads, investigates how to design structures against those loads and how to defeat structures with weapons. 

In the last three years, multiple nations have come to ERDC to collaborate in the study of Ultra High-Performance Concrete (UHPC), as they see this class of materials as important for both military force protection and structural hardening and civil efforts to include bridges, precast beams and connections.  O’Daniel is developing and leading efforts that will lead to UHPC design guidelines, which do not currently exist in a comprehensively-developed fashion.

“I very much appreciate the confidence in me that ERDC management has shown through this promotion to a DBV position,” O’Daniel said.  “I would like to convey many thanks to everyone that I’ve worked with throughout my ERDC career, as I would not be in this position without them.”

O’Daniel has served as an ERDC engineer since 1998.  His research has been published in 18 publications, and in various journals and was the recipient of two research and development awards in 2013.

He earned a bachelor’s and a master’s from Cornell University and Penn State University respectively, and a doctorate from Penn State University.

Rosati, a research hydraulic engineer in CHL’s Coastal Processes Branch, is a recognized national and international expert in coastal engineering who leads multi-disciplinary ERDC and federal agency teams. Rosati provides expertise on coastal inlet navigation, adjacent beaches, barrier islands and resilience of integrated coastal systems. 

Rosati’s portfolio is extensive and includes approximately $3.4 million annually in funding for customers, including the North Atlantic Division and several of its districts.

As the team lead of nine principal investigators, she conducts basic research to characterize long-term coastal inlet and adjacent beach morphologic evolution, which has improved methods to dredge and place sand for regional sediment management. 

Rosati is well-published in peer-reviewed journals.  In 2013, she, along with her Coastal Inlet Navigation team, produced 28 publications, including five journal articles.  She serves as the Science and Technology team lead for the Director, Board of American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA).

An ERDC employee since 1981, one of Rosati’s achievements is the development of a seminal numerical model calculating long-term (10s to 100s of years) evolution of sandy barrier islands that overlie a compressible substrate such as occurs in deltaic and estuarine environments.  She also co-developed a new methodology, the Sediment Budget Analysis System (SBAS).  SBAS facilitates a systematic, uniform approach to developing and presenting a sediment budget, incorporating uncertainty, for local and regional systems.

She was the 2013 recipient of the ASBPA Presidential Award. 

Rosati earned a bachelor’s from Northwestern University, a master’s from Mississippi State University and a doctorate from Louisiana State University.  She is a registered professional engineer.

“I am honored and humbled to have been promoted and greatly appreciate the support, encouragement and opportunities for advancement that my colleagues and ERDC have provided me,” said Rosati.

Smith is a research biologist in GRL’s Data and Signatures Analysis Branch.  His area of expertise is in geospatial distributed sensing research that incorporates bio-labeling for signature capture and novel mapping applications, geo-enabled electro-optical sensors, and spectral signature libraries.  He is the founder and principal investigator of an ERDC satellite laboratory on the western campus of George Mason University (GMU) in Manassas, Virginia.  The laboratory is devoted to the study of geospatial sensing and photonic imaging of materials and distributed sensing data collection that serve as the core constituents of geospatially-networked terrestrial sensors.

One of Smith’s significant projects included research as part of WATCHMAN - a wireless networked geospatial sensor for landscape monitoring and detection of contaminated threats.  The project involved a distributed water purification system component insert to rapidly monitor and detect waterborne pathogens during ultra-filtration from raw water sources.  The technology was explored to evaluate ultra-filtration filters during the filtration process for potable water used by Soldiers and in response to natural disasters.

Smith’s accomplishments are reflected in numerous peer-reviewed publications and invited speaker lectures.  His scientific community participation, professional leadership and internationally recognized work in geospatial remote sensing of distributed networked sensors aimed at monitoring the terrain has led to more than $7.8 million dollars to help pursue the necessary science essential to improve and expand geospatial distributed sensor capabilities.

In 2013, Smith received a Research and Development Achievement Award for development of Novel Geospatial Self-Healing Mesh Network Incorporating Sensors for rapidly assessing environmental terrain for expeditionary operations.

Smith earned a bachelor’s from North Carolina State University, a master’s from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a doctorate from George Mason University.  He is a member of the affiliate faculty at GMU’s Department of Environmental Science and Public Policy.

“I am honored and excited about the promotion to DB-V.  I am looking forward to continuing my research and development efforts with my team and fellow colleagues within the ERDC, the Army and the nation,” Smith said.

CHL EL GRL GSL