NEWS | July 3, 2012

Dr. Karl Gerlach Honored with 2012 Dennis Picard Medal for Contributions to Radar Research

By Donna McKinney

Dr. Karl Gerlach has been honored with the 2012 IEEE Dennis Picard Medal for Radar Technologies and Applications. He is recognized for contributions to radar signal processing, clutter modeling, and electronic protection. Dr. Gerlach, an engineer at the Naval Research Laboratory for 38 years, is now retired. This marks the second year in a row that an NRL researcher has received the award.

Dr. Gerlach was employed at NRL from 1971 to 2009. He worked exclusively for the Radar Division from 1976 to 2009, primarily advancing Navy radar research and development (R&D). He contributed to the U.S. Navy and other military services on advanced radar system design concepts, novel radar signal processing algorithms and architectures, and near-term signal processing and design solutions to overcome significant shortcomings in operational military radar systems.

In speaking of Dr. Gerlach's impact, Dr. Eric Mokole, head of NRL's Surveillance Technology Branch, said, Although his prolific publication record and significant contributions to Navy radar systems are extremely impressive and justification enough for this award in my opinion, his greatest legacy may well be the impact of his leadership and mentoring of NRL researchers and of his effect on the international radar community. I think of this impact as a force multiplier in signal processing and military radar for subsequent generations.

Dr. Gerlach advanced and directed basic radar research in many areas, including novel adaptive sidelobe canceller algorithms for Electronic Protection (EP), waveform diversity and design, adaptive detectors in non-Gaussian clutter, phenomenological sea clutter models, adaptive pulse compression, UWB electromagnetics and signal processing, wideband-canceller algorithms, Space Based Radar signal processing, and space-time adaptive processing (STAP) algorithms for robust radar target detection and false-alarm mitigation. Throughout his years at NRL, Dr. Gerlach fostered the innovative thinking that is necessary for upgrading existing DoD systems and developing future systems, and supported forward-looking R&D investments that take advantage of modern technology.

Dr. Gerlach's innovative EP techniques have a significant impact on improving the performance of radars against barrage and deceptive jammers. For example, he invented the cascaded analog/digital sidelobe canceller and showed its potential as an effective adaptive antenna nulling technique against jamming. A successful experimental program was developed to demonstrate this new technique, and a record level of cancellation was demonstrated. He also invented several techniques related to beam-space sidelobe cancellation (SLC) and band-partitioned SLC. In addition he and his colleagues developed a phenomenological model of radar sea clutter that is oft used and cited.

Not only has Dr. Gerlach conducted significant R&D research, he has also made significant contributions to several signal processing efforts related to Navy legacy radars, for example: demonstrating possible improvements to the AN/SPS-49 radar sidelobe canceller by replacing it with a digital canceller; and developing an effective Pulse Doppler Repair Algorithm for the Aegis BMD Radar. Moreover, he has consulted on signal processing upgrades for several other Navy radars (AN/SPQ-9B, AN/SPN-43, AN/SPY-1, AN/SPS-49, AN/MK-92, AN/SPY-3).

Dr. Gerlach received a bachelor's degree in 1972 from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and his master's and doctorate degrees from George Washington University, Washington DC, in 1975 and 1981, respectively, all in electrical engineering.

Dr. Gerlach has been honored with numerous achievement and publication awards, including the International 1986 IEEE Radar Systems Panel Award, now known as the IEEE AES Fred Nathanson Radar Award, for ECCM and radar signal processing; the IEEE 2002 M. Barry Carlton Award for Best IEEE AES Journal Publication; the 2010 IEEE Warren D. White Award; and 12 NRL Alan Berman Research Publication Awards. For his outstanding and sustained technical publications and scientific contributions, he was elected an IEEE Fellow in 2002. He has been highly prolific in documenting his work, with a publication record totaling over 200 journal articles, book contributions, conference papers, technical reports, and patents.