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Honorary Degree Recipient and Commencement Speaker

The commencement speaker for the Graduate School’s Spring 2017 Commencement Ceremony is Dr. Ralph D. Semmel, Ph.D. ’92. Dr. Semmel is receiving an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree.

Dr. Ralph D. Semmel became the eighth Director of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory on July 1, 2010. As Director, Dr. Semmel leads the nation’s largest University Affiliated Research Center, which performs 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 has more than 6,000 staff members who are making critical contributions to a wide variety of nationally and globally significant technical and scientific challenges.

Prior to becoming Director, Dr. Semmel served as the founding Head of APL’s Applied Information Sciences Department and Infocentric Operations Business Area, which conducted foundational research and development in the areas of cyber and information operations, information assurance, intelligence systems, and global information networks. Dr. Semmel also served in a variety of other executive and senior leadership positions at the Laboratory, including Business Area Executive for Infocentric Operations, Assistant Head of the Power Projection Systems Department, Business Area Executive for Science and Technology, Deputy Director of the Research and Technology Development Center, and Supervisor of the System and Information Sciences Group.

In addition to his APL responsibilities, Dr. Semmel served from 1997 to 2010 as Chair of the graduate programs in Computer Science, Information Assurance, and Information Systems Engineering for Johns Hopkins University’s Engineering for Professionals. He also has been program co-chair and on the program committees for several major international conferences and served on the editorial board of the International Journal of Software Engineering and Knowledge Engineering. He has published more than 40 papers in the areas of artificial intelligence, database systems, and software engineering. Dr. Semmel also has led and served on a variety of federal government science and technology boards, panels, and committees. He currently is a member of the Defense Science Board.

Before joining the Laboratory in 1986, Dr. Semmel held leadership and technical positions with Wang Laboratories, MITRE Corporation, and the U.S. Army.

Dr. Semmel earned a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, a Master of Science degree in systems management from the University of Southern California, a Master of Science degree in computer science from the Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. degree in computer science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.