sensing for chemical trace detection device design,” he said.
Julia D. Erdley, deputy science
adviser at the Joint IED Defeat
Organization, said her group remains focused on investment in
near-term solutions to address the
threat, but recognizes the importance of the services’ investments
in 6. 1 Basic Research.
“It is critical that the Department
[of Defense] continue to fund
research in our academic institutions, engaging the best and bright-est minds to consider the challenges
faced by our Soldiers, Sailors,
Airmen and Marines. These investments will not only ensure a
pipeline of new technologies, but
will also help prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers
for the future,” Erdley said.
“This is the great work that goes
on in basic and applied research,”
said Rear Adm. Nevin Carr, chief of
Naval Research. “We call that ‘dis-
covery and invention.’ And basic
research, by definition, is research
for which there may not be a pre-
cise application yet.”
Of the work that ONR does, perhaps the most
important and least understood and appreciated is basic
research, the undiscovered and emerging technologies.
“Basic research is the hardest category of our re-
search to justify because there isn’t that instant gratifi-
cation. You don’t have an immediate turnaround,” Carr
said. “But not only does it give us those technologies
that will open doors tomorrow, it’s also the basis for
employing the people and the scientists and having
that brain trust at the warfare centers and NRL [Naval
Research Laboratory], and out in academia and indus-
try that conduct the basic research. Without continu-
ing to feed that body of knowledge, those people
would not be there.”
Settles said ONR has provided about $600,000 in
funding for the canine olfactory research at the Gas
U.S MARINE CORPS
A Navy K- 9 handler guides his dog in a search in Karmah, Iraq, in January 2009
as Marine Sgt. Graham Johnston, assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine
Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, leads the way. A Penn State University
team is conducting research on canine respiratory and olfactory systems in
the hope of improving IED-detection capabilities.
“First, we had to understand the anatomy of a dog’s nose.
It is very complicated,” Settles said. “The respiratory and
olfactory mechanisms are so intertwined that you cannot
separate a dog’s breathing from sniffing and smelling.”
There were simpler systems to study, he admitted.
“Sharks, eels and certain other fishes have very good
senses of smell, and their olfactory system is separate
from their respiratory system,” he said.
Rats and bears are well known for their keen sense
of smell. But, Settles said, the dog is the gold standard.
“We can make sensors that are as sensitive as the
olfactory receptors of a dog, but we couldn’t mimic the
sensitivity. There had to be something else. As it turns
out, there is much more,” he said.
The team set out to make a detailed model of the
internal anatomy of a dog’s nose.
“We used a cadaver of a Labrador retriever, because
they’re good detection dogs, but just about any breed
could have been studied, except the pug nose breeds.
They can hardly breathe, let alone smell,” he said.
Settles’ team used magnetic resonance imaging to
create a finely detailed picture of the structure inside
the nose of the Labrador retriever, and from that created both a physical model and a computer model.
Computer models are built virtually, within the computer’s memory, he said, and the physical model is
made of plastic by the laser deposition technique.
“This gave us the best data set on the internal anatomy of a dog’s nose in the world. Based on that we built
two models, a one-quarter-scale physical model and a