Donald Ponikvar

Hertz Fellow: Donald Ponikvar
School

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Area of Study

Laser Physics

Fellowship Years

1977 - 1983

Dr. Donald Ponikvar is senior vice president at Defense Group Inc. (DGI), of Vienna, Virginia. With more than 40 years of experience in military nuclear, biological, chemical defense, military operations, and physics research, he provides scientific, engineering and technical support to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the US Department of Energy, the FBI, and to local first responder organizations dealing with nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological terrorism. He has provided onsite scientific and technical support to the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, components of the DHS, where he co-authored the DHS strategies for improving the national response and recovery from both an improvised nuclear device attack and a catastrophic chemical attack. Previously, he led the DGI group developing the CoBRA®Family of Products and Services, a collection of integrated IT solutions supporting first responders dealing with weapons of mass destruction. He was a co-author of Janes Chem-Bio Handbook (3d Edition), and is the author of two Quickseries Publishing guidebooks entitled Weapons of Mass Destruction, Preparedness and Response; and Preventive Radiological and Nuclear Detection.

As a distinguished West Point graduate and career Army officer, he served in tactical assignments in Germany, where he was the NBC Defense Officer for a Cavalry squadron deployed near the East German border. He was later assigned to the Department of Physics at West Point, where he helped establish a laser research laboratory. For several years, he worked on a large scale ground-based laser experiment under President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative. Based on that work, the novelist Tom Clancy has acknowledged him as the real life Al Gregory, the Army officer/laser physicist character of his book Cardinal of the Kremlin. Don's doctoral work was in experimental laser physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a Hertz Foundation Fellow.

Dr. Ponikvar is a member of the International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals, the National Defense Industrial Association, and the Law Enforcement Information Management Section of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). He is the chairman of the Emergency Interoperability Consortium (EIC), an educational industry organization chartered through the Department of Homeland Security, and was on the Steering Group of the Emergency Management Technical Committee of OASIS, an international body for data exchange standards. He was formerly president of the Forum for Military Applications of Directed Energy (F-MADE). Don's outside interests include target shooting and hunting, and working at his retreat home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. On weekends, he is an ordained pastor for a small Christian church in Manassas, Virginia.