ATDD’s Nebila Lichiheb Set to Begin Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

January 2020

Dr. Nebila Lichiheb, an Environmental Scientist at ARL’s Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division, will begin a full-time, two-year fellowship as an Intelligence Community (IC) Postdoctoral Research Associate on January 2, 2020. Selected for her proposal entitled, “Improving the prediction of hazardous material dispersion in an urban environment,” Dr. Lichiheb will strive to optimize the use of existing federal data from the DCNet research network to improve the formulations of key variables, such as friction velocity, in controlling dispersion model calculations. Her proposed adjustments will be tested by implementing them into ARL’s HYSPLIT dispersion model (via code) to gauge the level of improvement in prediction accuracy for dispersion forecasts over Washington D.C.

This fellowship will further Dr. Lichiheb’s professional quest to refine the estimation of risks to human health and the environment. She will analyze over 10 years of data before proposing adjustments to physics and approximation features in the HYSPLIT model in an attempt to improve modeling capabilities benefitting NOAA’s National Weather Service. ATDD Deputy Director Dr. LaToya Myles will serve as Lichiheb’s research advisor, helping her to “pick the right ideas at the right time” and managing administrative requirements. Mr. William Pendergrass and Dr. Bruce B. Hicks are Lichiheb’s IC advisors. They are ATDD’s resident HYSPLIT expert and a former ATDD Director still actively contributing to the science, respectively. The duo will provide Lichiheb with the necessary datasets and aid her in preparing for required yearly presentations to the IC on the status of her work.

Dr. Lichiheb holds engineering and master’s degrees in Agricultural Science and a doctoral degree in Environmental Sciences. She joined the staff at ATDD in 2016 as a National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Associate studying ammonia fluxes in agricultural and forest ecosystems and spent the last year as a Research Associate for the University of Tennessee, working in residence at ATDD to characterize and predict the emission of reactive nitrogen compounds over coastal ecosystems using measurements and modeling approaches. Lichiheb applied for the IC Fellowship in March 2019 by developing and submitting an eight-page technical proposal aligned to the requirements in an opportunity issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) titled, “Characterization of Physics and Approximations in Urban Weather and Atmospheric Dispersion Models.” She was notified of her selection at the end of May. “I am deeply honored to have been selected for this award,” said Lichiheb, “This fellowship is a great opportunity for me to partner with NOAA and the Intelligence Community to improve the modeling of urban atmospheric dispersion in order to refine the estimation of air pollution and assess the risks to human health and the environment.”

About the IC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program: This program provides a unique opportunity for scientists and engineers across a wide range of disciplines to conduct unclassified basic research on topics relevant to the intelligence community. The program was established in 2000 and is primarily funded by the ODNI. Research is conducted by Postdocs in partnership with a Research Advisor and in collaboration with an IC advisor(s).

About DCNet: One of the first dispersion forecasting systems specifically designed for urban areas was installed in Washington, D.C. and thus named DCNet. This group of monitoring stations collects and analyzes meteorological data, such as wind speed and direction and turbulence data, at frequent intervals to help define areas of potentially high risk downwind; helping to protect the population from hazardous gases and/or particles dispersed into urban areas.

Photo of Dr. Lichiheb. Somewhat close-up, head and torso, with leafless trees in the background.
Dr. Nebila Lichiheb