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The director of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Ralph Semmel leads more than 8,000 people in the effort to solve the nation’s “most pressing technical and analytical challenges.”

The eighth person to hold this position in APL’s 80-year history, Semmel has been with APL in numerous roles since 1986 and has served as director for 12 years.

Mentors have played an important role in Semmel’s life, guiding him through various phases of his career to help him “become a better person and a better leader.”

“I can only hope to pass on a fraction of everything I have learned from them,” he said.

Semmel holds a doctorate in computer science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
I am doing what I dreamed of doing decades ago, so it is hard to imagine not doing this. When the time does finally come, I hope to continue contributing to society and my community in other beneficial ways. Volunteer work, mentoring and coaching would be near the top of my list. At the top would be spending more time with family and friends, who have long accepted my zealous commitment to APL and who have themselves sacrificed more than I could have reasonably asked for or expected.