New Staff Enhance WHA Technical Services

 

When it comes to helping clients understand, evaluate, and mitigate hazards and fire risks of oxygen and other hazardous fluids, our clients deserve the very best and brightest minds on the job. This month, WHA International is proud to announce the arrival of two talented specialists whose experience is already expanding and enhancing WHA’s suite of technical services.

We hope you will help welcome our two latest additions to the WHA team: Dr. Danielle Murphy and Dr. Harold Beeson…

 

Dr. Danielle Murphy

Dr. Danielle “Dani” Murphy joins us from Golden, Colorado where she worked at NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) conducting hydrogen research. Her diverse background also includes several years with CASE Forensics in Seattle (recently acquired by Jensen Hughes), as well as five years working in research and design of microchannel reactors for solid-oxide fuel cell systems at the Colorado School of Mines.

“I worked with Dani a few years ago on a large-scale nitric acid reactor explosion and was very impressed with Dani’s technical skill and strong work ethic,” shares Dr. Barry Newton, WHA’s CEO.

“Having an engineer that can also be a strong communicator is very important… I often work in situations where you have to break down the science and make it more accessible for everybody, whether that’s for a jury, or a client, or your peers.”

Dr. Danielle Murphy, WHA engineer

With a diverse range of skills, Dani is poised to enhance WHA’s forensic and hazard analysis capabilities, educating clients and colleagues along the way. “Having an engineer that can also be a strong communicator — written and orally — is very important, and something that has helped me in my career,” shares Dani. “Coming from a PhD program and going directly into forensic engineering, I often work in situations where you have to break down the science and make it more accessible for everybody, whether that’s for a jury, or a client, or your peers.”

 

Dr. Harold Beeson

  • BS and PhD in chemistry from University of New Mexico
  • Extensive aircraft and spacecraft fire safety expertise
  • Specializing in combustion chemistry, fire extinguishing, failure analysis, hazard analysis, and materials compatibility with oxygen and other hazardous aerospace fluids
  • Unique expertise with the safe use of hydrogen, oxygen, and composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPV)

Dr. Harold Beeson has consulted with WHA for a number of years and has recently retired from his position as chief of the materials and components laboratories office at NASA White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

“Harold is one of the pioneers of oxygen technology,” shares Dr. Barry Newton, WHA’s CEO. “He’s been in the middle of all the development within NASA — understanding ignition mechanisms and materials and fires. He was the author of the oxygen safety manual and the hydrogen safety manual and hundreds of other important documents on other hazardous fluids.”

“Having a chemist in the room always brings something different to the table… I’ve always worked hard to bring real engineering solutions to tough technical issues — very difficult safety problems like oxygen, hydrogen, or aerospace fuels. And that takes a diverse collaborative team with complementary skills.”

Dr. Harold Beeson, WHA principal chemist

After 28 years of service to NASA, Harold has joined the WHA team as principal chemist, and he isn’t shy about stirring up some lighthearted rivalry between engineers and chemists. Jokes aside, however, he’s quite serious about the real-world advantage to having a diverse team: “The chemistry of what we do dovetails very well with the engineering… it brings that diversity of opinion and a science aspect that is a bridge between many of the practical challenges that we confront. I’ve always worked hard to bring real engineering solutions to tough technical issues — very difficult safety problems like oxygen, hydrogen, or aerospace fuels. And that takes a diverse collaborative team with complementary skills.”

“It’s the bridge between practical and analytical,” adds Barry.

 

Enhanced Forensic Capabilities

Both Dr. Murphy and Dr. Beeson bring a number of specific skills particularly oriented to enhance WHA International’s capabilities with forensic investigation and litigation.

“With Harold and Dani on our team, WHA is even better equipped to handle a wide range of high-impact forensic tasks… from evidence collection through reconstruction and analysis, these two bring incredibly powerful new skill sets and perspectives.”

Dr. Barry Newton, WHA engineer and CEO

Barry, for one, is eager to utilize Dani’s range of forensic skills that he’s already witnessed while partnering on past projects. She has investigated a wide variety of incidents, including medical oxygen fires, chemical industry fires and explosions, and petrochemical industry mechanical and material failures.

“She is comfortable examining physical evidence from start to finish — from processing the fire scene through laboratory analysis,” he explains, mentioning her aptitude with various laboratory scale tools like SEM, XRD, and FTIR.

“I’m often focused on bridging the gap between the physical and the analytical side,” shares Dani. “Most of the forensic work I’ve done combines those two things to support the case in a better way.”

Evidence reconstruction from the Columbia space shuttle explosion. Image Courtesy of NASA

 

Harold also brings an impressive portfolio of past experience with forensic investigations. With NASA, he spent time investigating notable incidents like the Russian Mir space station fire, the Columbia shuttle accident, and the Challenger space shuttle explosion. In industry, he’s also investigated many different oxygen incidents involving a range of technologies from oxygen regulators to submersibles.

 

Examining “the Why Behind the What”

Although their backgrounds and specialties are different, both Harold and Dani share a common thirst for answers and an inner drive to improve safety across the board. They see their roles at WHA playing an important part in the advancement of safety and industry.

“Hydrogen is a very promising market, for instance, where the industry is working on taking the next step in a safe way,” explains Dani. “There is this apprehension with hydrogen, not only among scientists and engineers, but among the public… Working together, we can help bridge that gap.”

“By understanding the safety, we’re enabling the advancement of science — and doing it with integrity. We’re enabling scientists and engineers to take a step farther than they have before, which opens up new horizons.”

Dr. Danielle Murphy, WHA Engineer

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