#Innovidual Bill Samuels
We’re a company full of innovative individuals, or as we call them, #innoviduals. This recurring series highlights some of our best and brightest employees by sharing their unique wisdom and technical know-how. This month’s #innovidual is Dr. Bill Samuels, Director of the Leidos Center for Water Science and Engineering.
Tell us a little about your job and the responsibilities that come with it.
I develop hydrologic and hydraulic models that analyze surface water, drinking water, and waste water. I’m currently interested in the application of satellite imagery and remote sensing to hydrology.
Why is innovation important in your role?
The problems dealing with the collective behavior of vast networks such as river systems, water distribution systems, and waste water collection systems are complex because they include feedback loops, produce counter-intuitive behaviors, and exhibit characteristics that cannot be predicted from the attributes of individual components. A complex water system includes all of the above individual components, yet also exhibits emergent collective behavior caused by the interactions among its features. My team creates models for use in planning, response, training, and development of monitoring strategies to address potential deliberate or accidental toxic contamination events.
What does innovation mean to you?
Oftentimes, innovation can be achieved by taking components and methods from a seemingly unrelated application and using them to solve a problem in another domain. Two applications that we developed come to mind to illustrate this concept. The first is applying networking algorithms, which were initially designed for transportation and traffic problems, to navigating river networks to trace contaminants downstream and search for contamination sites upstream. The second is using software components, originally developed for geo-statistical analysis of ground-water data, and customizing them for application to water quality datasets in the Chesapeake Bay, providing a powerful tool for 3D interpolation and error estimation.
Where will innovations in hydrology come from?
Satellite and remote sensing data can provide unprecedented global coverage of critical hydrologic parameters that are logistically and economically impossible to obtain through ground-based observation networks. Development of a methodology which utilizes the latest remote sensing data allows for a novel and cost-effective way to calculate hydrological parameters on a global scale. The increasing number of satellites and airborne platforms make it possible to extract and calculate large numbers of hydrological parameters.
Over the last few decades, increasingly available computational power has led to the development of complex hydrologic models, requiring a large amount of input data and parameter calibration. As computer power increases so does the complexity of the hydrologic models and the problems to which they are applied. The limitations of traditional modeling are overcome using satellite data and remote sensing. These parameters obtained by remote sensing and imagery are real time or near real time and can be fed directly into a contaminant transport model thus reducing the time to get results in case of an incident.