Dr. Todd Holland Receives the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award

12/31/2009 - 95-09r
Contact: Amanda Bowie, (202) 767-2541

Dr. Todd Holland, a researcher at the Naval Research Laboratory Stennis Space Center, is the recipient of the Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award. He is recognized for his contributions toward the development of tactical environmental reconnaissance methods for characterizing dynamic oceanographic processes occurring in littoral, nearshore and surf zone regions. Dr. Holland is head of NRL's Littoral Dynamics Team in the Marine Geosciences Division.

For Dr. Holland's leadership role as principal investigator of the multidisciplinary Littoral Dynamics Team, a team complemented with military personnel from the Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (CNMOC), the award citation reads in part,

Dr. Holland demonstrated exceptional ingenuity and persistence in the integration of all research and development efforts of an emerging [concept of operations] for tactical environmental reconnaissance. He has provided new sensing strategies, developed algorithms and user applications, and bridged the operational and research sides of the Navy that, end-to-end, yield accurate, quick turn-around environmental information to support the Expeditionary and Naval Special Warfare (NAVSPECWAR) warfighter at the tactical level.

Dr. Herbert Eppert Jr., Superintendent, NRL Marine Geosciences Division, presents Dr. Todd Holland with the award certificate.

Under Dr. Holland's direction, the team continues to improve the Navy's understanding of wave and longshore current interaction with sediments in nearshore environments. The innovative techniques the team is developing apply remote sensing technology to the indirect measurement and prediction of nearshore and riverine morphology. Because Naval Special Warfare (NSW) and expeditionary forces operate in scattered and often remote environments, they require accurate hydrography and bathymetry in very shallow water. Bathymetry has a direct impact on boat, platform and swimmer route planning and influences most, if not all, modeling of the littoral battlespace environment. Dr. Holland began his efforts using tower-mounted electro-optical (EO) cameras and developed robust data analysis methods to make bathymetry collections. Today, after many field demonstrations, these same data are acquired using miniature EO and infrared cameras flown aboard small unmanned airborne systems. The collected data are routinely analyzed using automated data inversion and interpolation algorithms developed by NRL. These data are also being exploited for use in numerical models of littoral processes including bathymetric change.

Significant accomplishments achieved by Dr. Holland in the remote characterization of littoral dynamics have reached science and technology transition to CNMOC activities whose mission areas specialize in littoral and riverine environmental reconnaissance. The optimal solutions that Dr. Holland has developed for nowcasting littoral conditions using remote sensing technology, include:

  • Use of satellite imagery to estimate littoral bathymetry. This highly successful littoral remote sensing project was transitioned to allow remote characterization of littoral processes occurring in denied or inaccessible regions. Rigorous validation process and integration algorithms were developed to provide critical information for planning amphibious operations and the safe deployment of divers, gliders and unmanned underwater vehicles operating in the littorals.
  • Tactical characterization of the littoral environment. Answering the military's call for the ability to rapidly capture and analyze oceanographic processes occurring in the littoral, nearshore, and surf zone regions, Dr. Holland spearheaded the initial research and development efforts in the exploitation of the video imagery for environmental reconnaissance. Innovative imagery collection and analysis systems were developed to provide persistent collection of oceanographic processes observed from beaches worldwide. These methods enabled the first serious characterization of littoral oceanographic processes (i.e., waves, currents, bathymetric change) at the tactical level.
  • Fleet demonstrations. Dr. Holland worked to establish a team of subject matter experts in environmental characterization to work with CNMOC military personnel to demonstrate and validate the Navy's ability to estimate bathymetry, wave and current conditions in littoral regions. This work included interaction with industry to influence advances in unmanned airborne system video collection and integration of commercial off-the-shelf echo-sounding hardware onto Fleet Survey Team's expeditionary survey vehicle, a modified jet ski, engineered to conduct shallow water bathymetric surveys. He led the team to determine appropriate sensing technologies, optimal collection strategies, consistent data formats, and efficient processing techniques. His focus on operational demonstration of technology has resulted in new capabilities for environmental reconnaissance being used by the Navy in nearshore regions worldwide.

According to Dr. Herbert Eppert, Jr., superintendent of the Marine Geosciences Division at NRL, "Dr. Holland is at the throttles developing and transitioning the equipment, algorithms and procedures Navy METOC operatives will use to perform remote characterization of littoral dynamics in support of expeditionary warfare." Dr. Holland has established an excellent rapport with and developed a comprehensive understanding of the needs of Navy METOC teams operating in support of Naval special and expeditionary warfare.

Before coming to NRL in 1995 as a post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Holland worked as a graduate research assistant for Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, and as an oceanographer for the United States Geological Survey in Reston, VA, from 1986 to 1991. In 1996, Dr. Holland accepted a position as an oceanographer in the Marine Geosciences Division at NRL. At NRL, Dr. Holland has received many awards including five Alan Berman Research Publication Awards, three Technology Transfer Awards and an Invention Award for "Method for Determining Heterogeneous Bottom Friction Distribution using Numerical Wave Model." Dr. Holland has 34 peer reviewed journal articles.

Dr. Holland has served as a subject matter expert and transition coordinator for the Office of Naval Research Ocean Battlespace Sensing Department since 1999 and for DARPA's Strategic Technology Office since 2006. He recently co-edited a special issue in Continental Shelf Research on the dynamics of mud deposits in coastal areas and is a member of the American Geophysical Union. He has also been a mentor for the Department of Defense Science and Engineering Apprentice Program since 1997.

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