Dr. Ruth M. Doherty is an internationally recognized expert in energetic materials, with more than 30 years of experience in the area of research and development of energetic materials and technology for countering improvised explosive devices. From 2012 to 2015 she served as the head of the Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Department at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division. Prior to this position, she was the Chief Scientist in the Explosives Division of the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology (DHS S&T) Directorate. She is a subject matter expert in the development and characterization of explosives, particularly for studies on the factors affecting differences in shock sensitivity of explosives. In her role as Program Executive Officer for Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices from 2008 to 2010 at DHS S&T, she supported research in the areas of detection of explosives, approaches to rendering IEDs safe, and mitigation of blast effects from explosions. Dr. Doherty received a B.S. in Chemistry (1970), a M.S. in Organic Chemistry (1973) and a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry (1980), all from the University of Maryland. From 1982 to 2008 she was with the Naval Surface Warfare Center, starting as a Research Chemist and also serving as the Program Manager of the Explosives Thrust of the Explosives and Undersea Warheads Block Program, Director of the Detonation Physics Division, and Technical Advisor in the Research Department. She served as the U.S. Representative to the NATO Energetic Materials Subgroup within the Ammunition Safety Group, and chaired the Subgroup from 2007 to 2008. She was awarded the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service award, the third highest civilian award in the Navy, in 2004 for her contributions in the field of Energetic Materials. She is currently a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal Propellants, Explosives and Pyrotechnics.

Dr. Doherty received her degrees in Chemistry at the University of Maryland (B.S. 1970, M.S in Organic Chemistry 1973, Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, 1980). In 1982 she embarked on a career with the Department of Defense and spent most of the next 33 years working at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in the field of energetic materials development and characterization, focusing on underwater explosives. She held program management and supervisory roles within NSWC, and also took on leadership roles in the Joint DoD/DOE Munitions Technology Program (1988 - 2008) and the NATO Energetic Materials Subgroup in the Ammunition Safety Group (US Principal Member, 2000-2008). From 2007 to 2012 she was the Program Executive Officer for Counter-IEDs in the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate. Dr. Doherty retired from federal service in 2015, but is still active in the community as a Senior Research Associate at ETC, an Associate Editor of the journal Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics, a member of the Independent Advisory Board for the DoD Joint Enhanced Munitions Technology Program, and a member of the Scientific Committee for the annual Seminar on New Trends in Research of Energetic Materials.

Research Interests:  Nonideal explosive, Cocrystals, Insensitive Energetics, Improvised explosives, Pyrotechnics, Green Energetics


Energetic Materials

Research and Development 

Analytical Thinking 


Organic Chemistry

Physical Chemistry

Explosives and Pyrotechnics







Ruth Doherty, Ph.D.

Chemist and Senior Research Associate