Chief Scientist, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
Dr. Robert Hummel serves as the Chief Scientist of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in the Science and Technology Policy Division and is a member of the Center for Revolutionary Scientific Thought. He is the author of the Potomac Institute book, Alternative Futures for Corrosion and Degradation Research and is also serving customers in DARPA and OSD. He is the principal author of the Institute’s forthcoming book on machine intelligence. Prior to joining the Potomac Institute, he served as a program manager at DARPA for nearly nine years, managing and initiating projects in information exploitation, computer science, and sensor design. Prior to joining DARPA, he was a tenured faculty member at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences in the Computer Science Department, where he did research in computer vision and artificial intelligence. Dr. Hummel earned his PhD in mathematics from the University of Minnesota, and he holds a B.A., also in mathematics, from the University of Chicago.
STEPS, Associate Editor
Research Associate, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
Dr. Timothy Bumpus received his PhD in chemical biology from Cornell University where, as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, he designed and implemented new chemical tools to study lipid centric cell signaling processes. Prior to Cornell, Dr. Bumpus attended Luther College where he received his B.A., majoring in chemistry, biology, and mathematics. He now brings his diverse scientific expertise to bear on the many, varied science and technology policy issues facing the country as part of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies’ research staff.
Jennifer Buss, PhD
Chief Executive Officer, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
Dr. Jennifer Buss serves as the CEO of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. The Institute develops meaningful science and technology policy options through discussions and forums and ensure their implementation at the intersection of business and government. She has extensive experience examining policy issues in support of NASA, and has been involved in their strategic planning processes for astronaut medical care and cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. She manages a variety of OSD programs including an outreach effort for the Department of Defense to the start-up community across the country to find innovative technologies to meet the challenges faced by the Services and Government agencies. Dr. Buss performs science and technology trends analysis and recommends policy solutions to some of the country’s most pervasive problems. She has also directed and assisted research on numerous government contracts, including systematic reviews and gap analyses. Dr. Buss is an authority in her scientific field with national recognition in her area of expertise. She is responsible for major projects requiring integration/coordination across multiple scientific disciplines.
Board of Regents Member, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
The Honorable Alan R. Shaffer served as the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (A&S) from January 2019 to January 20, 2021. Senate confirmed in January 2019, he was responsible to the Under Secretary of Defense (A&S) for all matters pertaining to acquisition; contract administration; logistics and materiel readiness; installations and environment; operational energy; chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons; the acquisition workforce; and the defense industrial base.
From 2015 to 2018, Mr. Shaffer served as the Director, NATO Collaboration Support Office in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. In this role, he was responsible for coordinating and synchronizing the Science and Technology (S&T) collaboration between NATO member and partner Nations, comprising a network of about 5,000 scientists.
Previous to his role at NATO, Mr. Shaffer served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (ASD(R&E)) from 2007-2015. In this position, Mr. Shaffer was responsible for formulating, planning and reviewing the DoD Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) programs, plans, strategy, priorities, and execution of the DoD RDT&E budget that totals roughly $25 billion per year. He also served twice as the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering from 2007-2009 and 2012-2015.
In 2009, he was appointed as the first Director, Operational Energy, Plans and Programs (Acting). Mr. Shaffer has also served as the Executive Director for several senior DoD Task Forces, including review of all research, acquisition, and test activities during the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure. In 2007, he was the Executive Director for the DoD Energy Security Task Force and, and from 2007-2012, he served as the Executive Director of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protection (MRAP) Task Force, where he was responsible for oversight, fielding and employment of 27,000 MRAPs across the Department of Defense.
Before entering the federal government, Mr. Shaffer served 24 years as a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force and retired in the grade of Colonel. While serving, he held positions in command, weather, intelligence, and acquisition oversight with assignments in Utah, California, Ohio, Honduras, Germany, Virginia, and Nebraska.
His military career included deployments to Honduras in the mid-1980s and direct support of the United States Army, 3rd Armored Division in Hanau, Germany. During Operation DESERT STORM, he was responsible for deployment of the 500-person theater weather force and upon retirement from the Air Force in 2000, Mr. Shaffer was appointed to the Senior Executive Service. In 2001, he assumed the position as Director, Plans and Programs, Defense Research and Engineering.
Mr. Shaffer earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Vermont in 1976, a second Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from the University of Utah, a Master of Science in Meteorology from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a Master of Science in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He was awarded the Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award in 2004, the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award, and the Distinguished Executive Presidential Rank Award in 2007 and 2015.
Research Fellow, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
Dr. Alyssa Adcock is a science and technology (S&T) Policy Research Fellow. At the Institute, she has been involved with several efforts focused on providing strategic S&T recommendations and technical forecasting to government customers including ongoing work with NASA. Dr. Adcock earned her PhD from Georgetown University in Inorganic Chemistry. Her graduate research focused on bismuth and rare earth element materials to address energy, lighting, and security needs as well as uranium chemistry relevant to nuclear waste and environmental management. She received her BS in Chemistry at Jacobs University in Germany and served as an intern at the Carnegie Institute of Washington’s Geophysical Laboratory focusing on origin of life and geochemistry research. Dr. Adcock is a member of the Graduate Education Advisory Board of the American Chemical Society.
Research Analyst, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
Sharon Layani is a Research Analyst in the S&T Division. She provides assessments of emerging science and technology trends, government acquisition strategies, strategic planning, and policy recommendations. Prior to her work at the Institute, she served as Research Associate and Research Coordinator at the International Center for Terrorism Studies. Her work focused on counterterrorism, international security, and rule of law issues. She provided research support and analysis for books, such as NATO: From Regional to Global Security Provider (2015) and The Islamic State: Combating a Caliphate Without Borders (2015), and assisted on a number of counterterrorism reports and projects. Ms. Layani served on the senior staff for Terrorism: An Electronic Journal and Knowledge Base and coordinated foreign policy and national security-related seminars. Ms. Layani graduated from the University of Michigan with a double major in Political Science and Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience, and a minor in International Studies focusing on the Middle East.
Founder, former CEO, and former Chairman of the Board, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
Michael Swetnam assisted in founding the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in 1994. Since its inception, he served as Chairman of the Board and was the Institute’s Chief Executive Officer until his death in 2020.
Mr. Swetnam dedicated his life to the service of our country, spending nearly a quarter century in the U.S. Navy, both as an active and reserve officer. He then worked for the Director of Central Intelligence as a Program Monitor on the Intelligence Committee Staff. He developed and presented the National Security Agency Budget to Congress. He also helped develop, monitor, and present the DOE Intelligence Budget to Congress. From 1990-1992, Mr. Swetnam served as a Special Consultant to President George H. W. Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. There, he provided expert advice on Intelligence Community issues and assisted in authoring the Board’s assessment of Intelligence Community support to Desert Storm and Desert Shield. Before founding the Potomac Institute, Mr. Swetnam worked in the private sector as a Vice President of Engineering at the Pacific-Sierra Research Corporation, Director of Information Processing Systems at GTE, and Manager of Strategic Planning for GTE Government Systems.
Mr. Swetnam was passionate about national security. He authored and co-authored several books and edited many articles on the subject, including: Al-Qa’ida: Ten Years After 9/11 and Beyond, Cyber Terrorism and Information Warfare, and Usama bin Laden’s al-Qaida: Profile of a Terrorist Network. “There have always been small groups and individuals who have threatened societies and nations around the world. The difference today is that advanced technologies, particularly the spread of advanced technologies of mass destruction are enabling these groups to threaten us in a way that, in the past, was reserved only to nation states,” Swetnam once told the Nuclear Threat Initiative Project.
Mr. Swetnam also served on several boards and committees. He’d been a member of the Technical Advisory Group to the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence where he provided expert advice to the U.S. Senate on the research and development investment strategy of the Intelligence Community. He was also Chairman of the Term Limits Referendum Committee (1992-93); President (1993) of the Montgomery County Corporate Volunteer Council, Montgomery County Corporate Partnership for Managerial Excellence (1993); and the Maryland Business Roundtable (1993). He was on the Board of Directors of Space and Defense Systems Inc., Dragon Hawk Entertainment Inc., and the Governing Board of the Potomac Institute of New Zealand.