CASoS Engineering

Robert J. Glass

Photograph of Bob GlassBuilding on the single assignment given to him when first arriving at Sandia National Laboratories, Dr. Robert J. Glass (Bob) created and led groundbreaking efforts for Sandia National Laboratories in Subsurface Science (1988-2003) and Complex Adaptive Systems of Systems (CASoS) Engineering (2004-2013). Highly regarded internationally for his foundational scientific contributions, his vision, leadership skills, and technical acumen spanning many diverse fields, Bob built highly effective teams and new Sandia programs focused on problems of critical importance for Sandia, the nation and the globe.

Bob’s design of research experiments and use of novel visualization techniques in the 1990s disproved the validity of many existing models for flow and transport through subsurface media, and led to his discovery of phenomena and the development of new theoretical and numerical modeling approaches that honored the underlying physics. Collaborating with staff from across Sandia, academia, and other national laboratories, he created the Flow and Transport Processes Laboratory (FTPL) whose research formed a foundational core for the DOE’s Subsurface Science Initiative. This work let to extended theory and models for vadose zone flow and transport, fingering, multi-phase and multi-component transport instabilities, the delineation of Dense Non Aqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPLs) within aquifers, and to the application of complexity science to infiltration cascading in fractured rock networks such as at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

Bringing his multi-disciplinary and conceptual design skills to the arena of National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis (NISAC), Bob focused his drive and technical expertise in complex non-equilibrium systems on critical infrastructures. Recognizing the need to address inherent interdependencies among the complex, adaptive critical infrastructures, Bob initiated the Advanced Modeling and Techniques Investigation through which he and colleagues created a new analysis approach combining network theory and agent-based modeling to engineer solutions within Complex Adaptive Systems of Systems (CASoS) and applied it, over the past few years, to domains as diverse as pandemic influenza, international payment systems, and global carbon treaties.  Rooted in infrastructure interdependencies analysis, this development enabled Bob to grow a team of analyst/engineers extending CASoS applications to global energy systems, food defense, strategic recovery models, and health systems among others.

Due to the success of Bob’s integrative conceptual framework for CASoS modeling and analysis, his record of building and funding successful programs, and his skills at forging powerful collaborative teams, Sandia management funded his leadership of an institution-wide strategic initiative and pilot project for CASoS Engineering and promoted him to the rank of Senior Scientist, an honor reserved for fewer than 40 scientists in a population of nearly 10,000.

Bob’s expertise and reputation have risen to international levels in every field in which he has worked. He has published heavily, authoring or coauthoring more than 75 journal articles; 15 book chapters / symposium series papers, and 50 reports / papers in conference proceedings. These publications have been highly cited (~2000 citations to date). He has been sought after to give invited talks (over 50) worldwide on subjects ranging from “The Structure of Subsurface Flow and Transport” to “Scientific Adventures in the Subsurface” to “Wrangling with Uncertainty in CASoS Engineering.” With colleagues, he has contributed over 125 presentations at national and international conferences. He has worked with 100s of colleagues from across the nation, Europe, the Middle East and Asia; from national labs, governmental agencies, industry and academia.

Winner of the prestigious William J. Perry International Security Fellowship for 2011-2012 at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), Bob used this opportunity to focus on integrative analysis of global interdependencies and their potential effects on international security. As summarized in his research prospectus, Bob's analyses were designed to inform/support decision for collaborative development of cooperative international policies.

Bob lends his expertise and leadership to public sphere initiatives in which he believes he can make a difference. As a recent example, Bob contributed many hours as Science Advisor, Chief Coordinator of the Upper Gila River Environmental Flows 2006 Science Forum, and panelist in the 2009 Science forum for the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission on water development issues in the Gila Watershed in Southwest New Mexico (2006-2009).

Dr. Glass received his BS from Haverford College in 1980 with a self-designed major in biology-ecology and course work at Haverford, Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore Colleges, and the University of Pennsylvania. After two years in the Central American tropics where he conducted research in a variety of ecosystems, he continued his education at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and then at Cornell University's Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering where he received his MS in 1985 and Ph.D. in 1988 with emphases on experimental, analytical, numerical and field research methods applied to address problems of fluid flow and chemical transport in environmental systems, e.g. soil, rock formations, groundwater, lakes, streams, atmosphere, and oceans.