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Kevin Williams

Executive Director

Associate Professor, Oceanography






Kevin Williams' research efforts include theoretical and experimental examination of scattering from, and propagation within, ocean sediments. He is also involved in research on the effects of ocean internal waves on acoustic imaging.

Dr. Williams has been with the Laboratory since 1988 and now serves as Executive Director. He holds a Ph.D. in physics (Washington State University) and the post of Associate Professor in the UW School of Oceanography.

Department Affiliation



B.S. Physics, Washington State University, 1979

M.S. Physics, Washington State University, 1983

Ph.D. Physics, Washington State University, 1985


APL-UW Internship Program: Applied Research Experience for NROTC Students

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6 Oct 2021

UW Naval ROTC midshipmen Joshua Lee and Brennan Hunt spent the summer quarter learning about new technology developed at APL-UW — the Multi-Sensor Towbody (MuST) — to address a real-world naval problem of detecting and classifying with sonar potentially hazardous objects on the seafloor. Advised by Principal Physicist Aubrey España, Lee and Hunt advanced step by step through the MuST mechanical components, how it is deployed in an operational scenario, how the classifier system works, and how to interpret the sonar data. Their summer internship experience was capped by a day of at-sea tests with MuST in Lake Washington, followed the next day by a formal presentation.

History of Acoustics Research at APL-UW

Six Decades of Acoustics Research at APL-UW.

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5 Oct 2015

Kevin Williams' presentation at the Acoustical Society of America meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, May 2015.

TREX13: Target and Reverberation Experiment 2013

TREX13 is a large-scale, collaborative ocean acoustics experiment supported by both the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP).

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5 Dec 2013

The experiment will take place in the Gulf of Mexico near Panama City Beach, Forida in the spring of 2013 and will involve researchers from both the United States and Canada.

The two main components of the experiment are:
1. to measure mid-frequency reverberation in a shallow water environment, and
2. to detect and classify unexploded ordnance and mine-like targets on the seafloor using synthetic aperture sonar.


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Multi-sensor towbody: Expandable platform detects, geolocates and classifies UXO

Williams, K., T. Marston, and T. McGinnis, "Multi-sensor towbody: Expandable platform detects, geolocates and classifies UXO," Sea Technol., 62, 8-11, 2021.

1 Sep 2021

Underwater unexploded ordnance (UXO) classification using a matched subspace classifier with adaptive dictionaries

Hall, J.J., M.R. Azimi-Sadjadi, S.G. Karl, Y. Zhao, and K.L. Williams, "Underwater unexploded ordnance (UXO) classification using a matched subspace classifier with adaptive dictionaries," IEEE J. Ocean. Eng., 44, 739-752, doi:10.1109/JOE.2018.2835538, 2019.

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1 Jul 2019

This paper is concerned with the development of a system for the discrimination of military munitions and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in shallow underwater environments. Acoustic color features corresponding to calibrated target strength as a function of frequency and look angle are generated from the raw sonar returns for munition characterization. A matched subspace classifier (MSC) is designed to discriminate between different classes of detected contacts based upon the spectral content of the sonar backscatter. The system is exclusively trained using model-generated sonar data and then tested using the measured Target and Reverberation Experiment 2013 (TREX13) data sets collected from a synthetic aperture sonar system in a relatively low-clutter environment. A new in situ supervised learning method is also developed to incrementally train the MSC using a limited number of labeled samples drawn from the TREX13 data sets. The classification results of the MSC are presented using standard performance metrics, such as receiver operating characteristic curve and confusion matrices.

Overview of midfrequency reverberation data acquired during the Target and Reverberation Experiment 2013

Yang, J., D. Tang, B.T. Hefner, K.L. Williams, and J.R. Preston, "Overview of midfrequency reverberation data acquired during the Target and Reverberation Experiment 2013," IEEE J. Oceanic Eng., 43, 563 - 585, doi:10.1109/JOE.2018.2802578, 2018.

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1 Jul 2018

The Target and Reverberation EXperiment 2013 (TREX13) included a comprehensive reverberation field project in the frequency band of 2–10 kHz, and was carried out off the coast of Panama City, FL, USA, from April 21 to May 17, 2013. A spatially fixed transmit and receive acoustic system was used to measure reverberation over time under diverse environmental conditions, allowing study of reverberation level (RL) dependence on bottom composition, sea surface conditions, and water column properties. Extensive in situ measurements, including a multibeam bathymetric survey, chirp sonar subbottom profiling, gravity/diver cores, sediment sound speed and attenuation, interface roughness, wind-generated sea surface waves, and water column properties, were made to support studies of environmental effects on RL. Beamformed RL data are categorized to facilitate studies emphasizing physical mechanisms of 1) bottom reverberation; 2) sea surface impact; and 3) biological impact. This paper is an overview of RL over the entire sea trial, intending to summarize major observations and provide both a road map and suitable data sets for follow-up efforts on model/data comparisons. Emphasis is placed on the dependence of RL on local geoacoustic properties and sea surface conditions.

More Publications


ROV-Operable Latch with Mechanical Termination for Nodes Connected with Underwater Telecommunications Cable

Record of Invention Number: 49110

Geoff Cram, Derek Martin, Steve Schwennsen, Kevin Williams


13 Nov 2020

Synthetic Aperture Processing for Down-Looking Sonar Systems

Record of Invention Number: 48984

Kevin Williams, Timothy Marston, Daniel Plotnick


5 Nov 2019

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center