PANAMA CITY, Florida – National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) awarded Dr. Kerry Commander with their 2013 Undersea Warfare Bronze Medal Award for Technical Merit by Rear Adm. Michael Jabley, in Groton, Connecticut, Sept. 23, 2014.
Dr. Commander’s recognition marks the 10th NSWC Panama City Division employee to have earned the NDIA Bronze Award distinction for technical merit since 1998.
Dr. Commander, who has over 29 years of distinguished service for the U.S. Navy, began his professional career as a research physicist at the Naval Coastal Systems Center (NSCS), Panama City, Florida which is now Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD). His early research led to several important discoveries in non-linear bubble dynamics, multi-phase flow, and inverse scattering acoustics and had a direct application to the Surface Ship Torpedo Defense Program.
NDIA selected Dr. Commander for the undersea distinction based upon numerous technical achievements that have laid the foundation for several fleet programs.
“My most significant technical accomplishment to date is leading the first successful demonstration of a synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) on a fully autonomous underwater vehicle in CJTFEX04-2 by our science and technology (S&T) team,” said Dr. Commander. “This was a major milestone in the transition of this early S&T program to advanced development programs and the beginning of a new era in MCM (mine countermeasures).”
Additional technical accomplishments include leading a number of research efforts in very shallow water/surf zone acoustics, underwater communications, SAS applied to buried target detection, sediment acoustics, medium coherence, and parametric sonar. Under his direction and leadership many notable contributions were made by the team to systematically improve SAS systems that include increasing bandwidth, range, interferometry, circular SAS, and acoustic color analysis of data.
Dr. Commander feels his technical achievement and recognition are a true reflection on his team.
“The reward is really a group recognition award for our science and technology team that worked for years to develop advanced technology that could perform some parts of the MCM mission from an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), removing people and marine animals from a very dangerous job,” said Dr. Commander. “The team consisted of experts in sonar systems, signal and image processing, unmanned systems and autonomy, and of course all the support personnel from the test and evaluation side of the lab.”
Dr. Commander, whose hometown is Clarksdale, Mississippi, serves as Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division Science and Technology Department Head. Today, he is a senior leader for technical research and development initiatives of 180 scientists and engineers performing science and technology work in support of mine/undersea warfare and expeditionary warfare. Additionally, he serves as NSWC PCD’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) where he is known for demonstrating outstanding leadership in developing and implementing latest S&T trends to evolving naval requirement.
“This prestigious undersea warfare award is a tribute to Dr. Commander’s leadership and technical excellence,” said NSWC PCD Technical Director Ed Stewart, a member of the Senior Executive Service Corps. “Currently, as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at NSWC PCD and head of the Science and Technology Department, his contributions to the undersea community are many and profound.”
At NSWC PCD, Dr. Commander is personally involved with and responsible for the execution of science, technology, unmanned systems, strategic systems, and threat analysis programs supporting Navy and Marine Corps research, development, test and evaluation, homeland defense, and force protection. This also includes championing and obtaining funding for associated programs, developing sponsor relationships, and driving the technology transition and Fleet support processes.
He has published and presented his research in numerous papers and conferences, and is recognized internationally as a Subject Matter Expert in Acoustics. He was the U.S. Navy representative on the Technical Committee for the Institute of Acoustics’ International Conference on Synthetic Aperture Sonar and Synthetic Aperture Radar, held in 2010 in Lerici, Italy and again in 2014.
His professional standing within the technical community has been recognized through his election to the grade of Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA). Dr. Commander currently serves on the ASA’s Technical Committee on Physical Acoustics and is a technical reviewer for the ASA’s Journal. He also continues to serve as a reviewer for the classified Journal of Underwater Acoustics and the IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering.
Dr. Commander holds a Doctorate in Physics degree from the University of Mississippi, a Master of Science degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Arizona, and Bachelor of Science degrees in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Mississippi.
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Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division