Spotlight on NTIA: Bart Gibbon, Information Technology Engineer, Office of Policy Coordination and Management

July 31, 2014

This post is part of our “Spotlight on NTIA” blog series, which is highlighting the work that NTIA employees are doing to advance NTIA’s mission of promoting broadband adoption, finding spectrum to meet the growing demand for wireless technologies, and ensuring the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.

Bart GibbonsBart Gibbon is not your average NTIA employee. He is one of a handful of employees at a remote site many NTIA employees might not have heard of before.

Gibbon is an information technology engineer at NTIA’s remote site operations in Gettysburg, Pa., where he has worked since he joined the agency in 2005. He spends his days in a different setting than the typical NTIA employee, but he says his work in the information technology department is just like that of any IT engineer. Up until two months ago, Gibbon was the sole IT employee at the Gettysburg office. The main purpose behind the facility is “continuity of operations,” Gibbon explains. Employees like Gibbon work to ensure that in the event of emergency, key NTIA employees can transfer to the site and continue their work.

Day-to-day, Gibbon works on maintaining and enhancing the site’s capabilities by applying patches and updates to the servers and assists in responding to help desk tickets. Even though he is not in NTIA’s main Washington office, he says he spends most of his time on the phone with other NTIA employees. He also travels to the main office for meetings about every other month. 

Prior to working for NTIA, Gibbon served in the Navy for six years. After leaving the Navy, he worked from 1992-2005 as a civilian Defense Department employee to support the chief of naval operations as an electronic technician.

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A Visual Insight into the Degradation of Metals Used in Drinking Water Distribution Systems Using AFM

Evaluating the fundamental corrosion and passivation of metallic copper used in drinking water distribution materials is important in understanding the overall mechanism of the corrosion process. Copper pipes are widely used for drinking water distribution systems and although it is durable and resist to oxidation, when in contact with aggressive environment, copper can corrode. Corroding pipes and leaching of the metal into drinking water has been associated structural failure and gastrointestinal problems. It is widely agreed the formation of copper by-products are influenced by water chemistry which impacts the acceleration or migration of the corrosion of copper pipes.

Characterization of surface changes on metals used in drinking distribution at the molecular level is an important piece of the puzzle in understanding the corrosion mechanism. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a surface characterization technique based on scanning a tip across the sample surface to generate a 3-D image with nanometer resolution. The novelty of AFM for analyzing materials used for distributing drinking water affords the opportunity to visualize the morphological changes in the early stages of the degradation and/or passivation of the metal at the micro/nano-scale.

The purpose of this study was to use AFM to show surface changing in the formation and reduction of corrosion by products layers on metallic copper surfaces as a function of drinking water chemistry such as pH, time and corrosion inhibitor (orthophosphate and polyphosphate). To prepare the samples, copper coupons exposed to water mimicking drinking water found at the tap for 6 h and 24 h. Water was prepared in a l L reaction cell to a composition of 10 mg C/L dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), 60 mg/L chloride, 120 mg/L sulfate, and 3 mg/L free chlorine. Formation and reduction of the samples were compared without and with orthophosphate (6 mg/L) as the inhibitor.

Our AFM results showed the morphology change (shape and size) of copper by-products after 6 and 24 h over a pH range of 6.5-9. As the immersion time was increased to 24 h for pH 6.5 and 7, dense, angular structures formed on coupon surfaces. At pH 8 and 9 after 24 h, the morphology changed into clustered, grainy morphologies. In the presence of orthophosphate, smaller deposits were observed for each pH range. Additional analysis with XRD and NEXAFS identify the by-products as cuprite (Cu(II)) for samples without orthophosphate and copper coupons treated with the inhibitor produce a mixed oxidation state with the primary state being the pure metal, Cu(0).

Criminal Charges against Institute for Peace and Democracy Director Leyla Yunus in Azerbaijan

The criminal charges levied against prominent human rights defender Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif Yunus on July 30 are deeply concerning and represent a further restriction on peaceful civil society activities in Azerbaijan. Ms. Yunus is being held in pre-trial detention despite a serious health condition. Mr. Yunus also has a serious health problem and is under house arrest. These charges appear to be connected with their participation in constructive people-to-people programs that aim to ease tensions and build confidence in the region. We urge the Government of Azerbaijan to respect the universal rights of its citizens, ensure they are afforded all the fair trial guarantees to which all citizens are entitled, and allow them to freely express their views in accordance with international human rights commitments and obligations.

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Quantification of error associated with stormwater and wastewater flow measurement devices

A novel flow testbed has been designed to evaluate the performance of flumes as flow measurement devices. The newly constructed testbed produces both steady and unsteady flows ranging from 10 to 1500 gpm. Two types of flumes (Parshall and trapezoidal) are evaluated under different flow rates to provide a comparison of flow measurement results to those produced by the well calibrated magmeters that are a major component of the SWIM testbed.

Using a Coupled Lake Model with WRF for Dynamical Downscaling

The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model is used to downscale a coarse reanalysis (National Centers for Environmental Prediction–Department of Energy Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project reanalysis, hereafter R2) as a proxy for a global climate model (GCM) to examine the consequences of using different methods for setting lake temperatures and ice on predicted 2 m temperature and precipitation in the Great Lakes region. A control simulation is performed where lake surface temperatures and ice coverage are interpolated from the GCM proxy. Because the R2 represents the five Great Lakes with only three grid points, ice formation is poorly represented, with large, deep lakes freezing abruptly. Unrealistic temperature gradients appear in areas where the coarse-scale fields have no inland water points nearby and lake temperatures on the finer grid are set using oceanic points from the GCM proxy. Using WRF coupled with the Freshwater Lake (FLake) model reduces errors in lake temperatures and significantly improves the timing and extent of ice coverage. Overall, WRF-FLake increases the accuracy of 2 m temperature compared to the control simulation where lake variables are interpolated from R2. However, the decreased error in FLake-simulated lake temperatures exacerbates an existing wet bias in monthly precipitation relative to the control run because the erroneously cool lake temperatures interpolated from R2 in the control run tend to suppress overactive precipitation.

G.S. Electech Inc. Executive Pleads Guilty to Bid Rigging and Price Fixing on Automobile Parts Installed in U.S. Cars

An executive of Japanese auto parts maker G.S. Electech Inc. pleaded guilty and was sentenced today to serve 13 months in a U.S. prison for his role in an international conspiracy to rig bids and fix prices on auto parts used on antilock brake systems installed in U.S. cars, the Department of Justice announced.

Expanding the breadth and impact of cybersecurity and privacy research

image of a fingerprint, computer parts and sequence of numbers

As our lives and businesses become ever more intertwined with the Internet and networked technologies, it is crucial to continue to develop and improve cybersecurity measures to keep our data, devices and critical systems safe, secure, private and accessible.

Today, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program announced two new center-scale "Frontier" awards to

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This is an NSF News item.

Bringing Systems Thinking into Community-based Environmental Management

The U.S. EPA’s ‘Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program’ is developing methods and tools to assist communities in making decisions that lead to more just and environmentally sustainable outcomes. Work includes collaborative development of systems models that capture linkages between environmental, social, and economic spheres. These models assisted communities and environmental managers in understanding social and economic benefits and trade-offs for choices that range from business-as-usual to taking actions, e.g., adopt innovative wastewater technologies, restore wetlands, implement Agricultural BMPs, adopt multi-state coastal management strategies, enforce existing standards, or implement climate resiliency practices. We will discuss three complementary models and their effectiveness in bringing systems-thinking into community-based environmental management decisions: A simple concept map, which can be developed by individuals or groups to capture their own understanding of systems of interest and integrate knowledge and values from different perspectives. A Driving Force-Pressure-State-Impact-Response framework that identifies cause and effect within the system and allows community decision-makers to recognize factors that may need to be quantified in order to evaluate trade-offs and co-benefits. Use of these two models within exploratory workshops with stakeholders and within a structured decision-framework (Decision Analysis for a Sustainable Environment, Economy and Society) resulted in shifts of participants’ thinking and willingness to invest in both additional data acquisition and in environmentally protective actions. A dynamic simulation model that creates a triple-value system simulation (3VS) for specific watershed management scenarios. Narragansett Bay and the Cape Cod cases brought state, federal and local researchers, and environmental managers together to identify critical model components, linkages, data, management options, and implementation roadblocks. Collaborative development of these models resulted in better understanding of the financial and social impacts to communities of coastal water quality, increased willingness to work across boundaries, recognition of the costs of delaying actions, and agreement on research and data needs.

Evaluating Uncertainty to Strengthen Epidemiologic Data for Use in Human Health Risk Assessments

Author Affiliations close
1The Dow Chemical Company, Midland, Michigan, USA; 2US EPA/NCEA, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; 3ILSI-HESI, Washington, DC, USA; 4US EPA/NCEA, Washington, DC, USA; 5Drexel University, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public Health, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; 6Monsanto, St. Louis, Missouri, USA; 7Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA; 8US EPA/NCEA, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA; 9formerly with Bayer CropScience, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA; 10University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada; 11ExxonMobil Biomedical Sciences, Inc., Annandale, New Jersey, USA; 12E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Newark, Delaware, USA; 13Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA
About This Article open

This EHP Advance Publication article has been peer-reviewed, revised, and accepted for publication. EHP Advance Publication articles are completely citable using the DOI number assigned to the article. This document will be replaced with the copyedited and formatted version as soon as it is available. Through the DOI number used in the citation, you will be able to access this document at each stage of the publication process.

Citation: Burns CJ, Wright JM, Pierson JB, Bateson TF, Burstyn I, Goldstein DA, Klaunig JE, Luben TJ, Mihlan G, Ritter L, Schnatter AR, Symons JM, Yi KD. Evaluating Uncertainty to Strengthen Epidemiologic Data for Use in Human Health Risk Assessments. Environ Health Perspect;

Received: 24 December 2013
Accepted: 29 July 2014
Advance Publication: 31 July 2014

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Background: There is a recognized need to improve the application of epidemiologic data in human health risk assessment especially for understanding and characterizing risks from environmental and occupational exposures. While there is uncertainty associated with the results of most epidemiologic studies, techniques exist to characterize uncertainty that can be applied to improve weight-of-evidence evaluations and risk characterization efforts.

Methods: This report derives from a Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI) workshop held in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, to discuss the utility of using epidemiologic data in risk assessments, including the use of advanced analytical methods to address sources of uncertainty. Epidemiologists, toxicologists, and risk assessors from academia, government and industry convened to discuss uncertainty, exposure assessment, and application of analytical methods to address these challenges.

Synthesis: Several recommendations emerged to help improve the utility of epidemiologic data in risk assessment. For example, improved characterization of uncertainty is needed to allow risk assessors to quantitatively assess potential sources of bias. Data are needed to facilitate this quantitative analysis, and interdisciplinary approaches will help ensure sufficient information is collected for a thorough uncertainty evaluation. Advanced analytical methods and tools such as directed-acyclic graphs (DAGs) and Bayesian statistical techniques, can provide important insights and support interpretation of epidemiologic analysis.

Conclusions: The discussions and recommendations from this workshop demonstrate that there are practical steps that the scientific community can adopt to strengthen epidemiologic data for decision making.

Media Advisory — Census Bureau Announces Schedule for Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Statistics and American Community Survey Results

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today the schedule for the 2013 income, poverty and health insurance statistics from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey, as well as the 2013 American Community Survey releases: Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 The Census Bureau and the National Center for …