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News | Feb. 22, 2021

ERDC scientist earns top DoD award for achievements in risk, resilience science

By Holly Kuzmitski ERDC PAO

Dr. Igor Linkov, senior science and technology manager at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), was recently selected by the Department of Defense (DoD) as the Laboratory Scientist of the Year for the second quarter of fiscal year 2020.

The award recognizes the extraordinary service contributed by DoD scientists and engineers and their exceptional work on behalf of the Department.

Linkov’s research vision and methodology in risk, resilience and decision science has informed tools and practices used by the DoD, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies. These tools, used in many military and civilian applications, were also applied in the fight against COVID-19 and directly supported policy decision-making in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) North Atlantic and Pacific Ocean divisions and by FEMA Region 1 ― which serves the six New England states.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized by the DoD for my work,” Linkov said. “But truly, this is a recognition of the Risk and Decision Science Team’s achievements and effort to deliver the mission – I am extremely grateful for all of my team members, who always go the extra mile to achieve results.”

Linkov contributed to ground-breaking approaches to quantify risk and resilience that have been incorporated into multiple programs. In the second quarter of fiscal year 2020, Linkov led the development of a model series to predict DoD and FEMA COVID-19 mission-critical needs in multiple jurisdictions.

Linkov’s approach combines region-specific epidemiological modeling with resource-allocation analysis and capacity forecasting. It is built on the data analysis methods and tools and the predictive modeling methodology that he developed over the last decade. Linkov integrated innovative data fusion algorithms with resilience science to address systemic risks. The resulting COVID Toolkit gives federal and civilian partner organizations the means to predict exposure rates and health outcomes with a high level of accuracy. The Toolkit’s key advantage lies in its ability to pull together the best data to give decision-makers the information and analysis they need to prepare for the exigencies of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Predictions were provided to the USACE Geospatial Task Force, which then summarized outputs for the broader USACE team to advise federal, state and local partners on decisions related to COVID-19 courses of action. Later, the Toolkit was used by FEMA Region 1, as well as senior USACE leadership, to optimize the distribution and use of resources across their medical facilities.

Since March 2020, Linkov has served on the FEMA Region 1 Data Analytics Task Force. The task force has received favorable reports about their support to the six New England states, including about the team’s epidemiological, risk, infrastructural and policy analyses that were repeatedly briefed to the White House COVID-19 Response Team, the New England state governors and the USACE North Atlantic Division. Additional support was provided to the USACE Pacific Ocean Division, where Linkov led the first public health analysis for Guam, Northern Marianas Islands and American Samoa.

“I’m so proud of Igor,” said Dr. Pittman, ERDC director. “He competed against all the scientists within the DoD. It’s wonderful recognition for him and for ERDC.”

The Toolkit developed by Linkov and his team is the first and only product developed and maintained by a government entity that combines modeling, resource allocation analysis and capacity forecasting; it is also part of the CDC ensemble forecast.

Currently, Linkov and his team are developing artificial intelligence-driven methods and tools to address needs in vaccine production and distribution supply chains.