The Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab, near Laurel, is looking for a new director after its current chief, Richard T. Roca, announced Thursday that he is leaving.
Roca, 65, took the APL post in January 2000 after a long career at AT&T, including as director of AT&T Labs in New Jersey, the company's research and development arm.
APL scientists and engineers conduct research and development with a variety of partners, including the Navy and NASA. The laboratory is currently managing unmanned NASA missions to Mercury and Pluto.
Roca is credited with encouraging collaborations between the lab and other Hopkins entities, and with guiding APL through a period of new construction and modernization. A new Space Department headquarters is now being built.
"APL's achievements would not have been possible without his foresight and vision, his leadership and integrity," said Pamela P. Flaherty, chairman of JHU's Board of Trustees, in a news release.
Roca told the APL board of managers that he will remain as director until his successor is appointed, probably by summer.