Larry D. Welch Award for best external publication

Photo of award recipients

This year’s winner of the Larry D. Welch Award for Best External Publication is Statistical Cluster Analysis of Global Aerosol Optical Depth for Simplified Atmospheric Modeling,” by IDA’s Noah Plymale and Joshua Szekely and their coauthor Anna Rubinstein. The article was published in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, Vol. 61, No. 2 (February 2022): 109-128.

About the Article
Atmospheric modeling is a method for measuring climate parameters and quantifying changes in atmospheric phenomena. One atmospheric modeling parameter is aerosol optical depth (AOD), which is critical to photon transmission and absorption and to atmospheric transport and dispersion. AOD has many applications for national security. Traditional ways of identifying AOD parameters involve gigantic databases or computationally intensive models. Neither method is practical for quick-turnaround assessments, large-volume analyses, or user evaluations hindered by limited computational resources. The authors document research on the use of a data-clustering algorithm (k-means) to reduce large geographical datasets of AOD so that statistically similar clusters can be presented graphically and accessed through compact look-up tables. The work represents an innovative contribution that could facilitate analysis where approximate or typical aerosol conditions are provided in the form of simple look-up tables.

Our Award Recipients
Noah Plymale has expertise in nuclear weapons effects; warfare and cost optimization modeling; and system networking. He holds a doctorate in physical chemistry. Joshua Szekely’s background includes quantum mechanics; small molecule behavior in high-powered magnetic fields; and electronic structure theory and calculation. He holds a doctorate in physical chemistry. Anna Rubinstein is a former IDA research staff member at IDA and is now the Chief of Responsible AI at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. She holds a doctorate in chemical engineering and materials science.

Other Finalist Nominations
The Welch Award Selection Committee named the following publications as finalists among the nominations this year. Together, these publications illustrate the diversity of IDA expertise and reflect well upon the authors and IDA.

Pat Langley, “Agents of Exploration and Discovery,” AI Magazine.

Bruce Sugden, “Analyzing the Potential Disruptive Effects of Hypersonic Missiles on Strategy and Joint Warfighting,” Joint Force Quarterly.

Rebecca Medlin, Keyla Pagan-Rivera, John Dennis and Monica L. Ahrens, “Case Study on Applying Sequential Analyses in Operational Testing,” Quality Engineering.

Jessica Swallow, Emily Fedele and Felicia Sallis-Peterson, “Modeling Injury Risk From Multiple-Impulse, Area-Distributed Flash-bangs Using an Uncertainty Bounding Approach to Dose Accumulation,” Military Medicine.

David Tate, “Software Productivity Trends and Issues,” Defense Acquisition Research Journal.