Director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office: Who Is Huban Gowadia?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Huban A. Gowadia as director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) on September 20, 2013, and she was sworn in on December 13. In that role, Gowadia leads the agency responsible for detecting nuclear materials, finding gaps in the nation’s system of detecting nuclear materials and developing technology to detect nuclear materials.


Gowadia was born in 1969 in Mumbai, India. She graduated from the University of Alabama in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Pennsylvania State in 2000. She specialized in fluid mechanics and heat and mass transfer. Her dissertation research dealt with “the scientific background for an explosives detection portal for personnel screening.”


She worked for the Federal Aviation Administration’s aviation security laboratory from 2000 to 2001 as part of the explosives and weapons detection team. The September 11, 2001, attacks had a profound effect on Gowadia. After being appointed DNDO director, she told Crimson White, the University of Alabama campus newspaper, “I would have to say the most impactful and shaping event of my life was Sept. 11. Right then and there learning curves were steepened at an incredible pace.…I realized the words of good mentors at the time, and teammates, because we had to do very difficult things in very short periods of time.”


Shortly after the attacks, Gowadia moved to the Transportation Security Administration, where she worked until 2003 as checkpoint program manager. She then managed Homeland Security’s Science & Technology Countermeasures Test Beds until 2005, when she joined DNDO.


Gowadia moved quickly up the ladder in that agency, starting as assistant director for assessments. In 2007, she became assistant director of the mission management directorate before becoming deputy director of DNDO in 2010. She took over as acting director of the agency in 2012 before being formally appointed as director in 2013.

-Steve Straehley


Official Biography

The Natural Sampling of Airborne Trace Signals from Explosives Concealed upon the Human

 Body (by Huban A. Gowadia and Gary S. Settles (Pennsylvania State University) (pdf)


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