Army team spans globe for science, technology solutions

RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center, or RFAST-C, engineers and technicians discuss prototype integration facility capabilities with senior noncommissioned officers from the 18th Engineer Brigade at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in June 2012.

RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center, or RFAST-C, engineers and technicians discuss prototype integration facility capabilities with senior noncommissioned officers from the 18th Engineer Brigade at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in June 2012.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — U.S. Army science advisors are embedded with major units around the world to speed technology solutions to Soldiers’ needs.

The Field Assistance in Science and Technology program’s 30 science advisors, both uniformed officers and Army civilians, provide a link between Soldiers and the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s thousands of subject matter experts.

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http://go.usa.gov/T9Gd

 

Improved biosurveillance capabilities for U.S. Forces Korea

ECBC is working with the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense on the four-year JUPITR project that will begin testing on the Korean peninsula in June.

ECBC is working with the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense on the four-year JUPITR project that will begin testing on the Korean peninsula in June.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — A portal, a duel and a kraken that springs to life. No, it’s not the latest science fiction movie. It’s an advanced technology demonstration that’s just getting started.

The Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense is working with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center to introduce a new advanced technology demonstration- the Joint United States Forces Korea Portal and Integrated Threat Recognition, known as JUPITR.

The goal of the four-year program is to develop unique biological detection capabilities that will address the demand for stronger biosurveillance capabilities in the Korean Peninsula.

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APG to launch centralized STEM education center

Harford County eighth-grade students explore science and engineering as part of the fifth annual Technology Needs Teens program at Harford Community College on May 24, 2012. The Aberdeen Proving Ground STEM Education and Outreach Center will be ready in late May 2013.

Harford County eighth-grade students explore science and engineering as part of the fifth annual Technology Needs Teens program at Harford Community College on May 24, 2012. The Aberdeen Proving Ground STEM Education and Outreach Center will be ready in late May 2013.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Maryland students will soon have a unified APG facility at which to explore the world of science and engineering with Army professionals.

The APG STEM Education and Outreach Center will be ready in late May, said Dr. Sandy Young, an Army Research Laboratory materials engineer. She is coordinating the project with ARL laboratory operations and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach offices on APG.

Young said the SEOC will allow multiple APG tenant organizations to pool their resources to benefit students’ experiences in science and engineering. The facility will accommodate up to 200 students.

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http://go.usa.gov/4u5H

 

Greater than the sum of its parts

Collectively, we’re the Lucius Fox for the U.S. Army.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — Dale Ormond, director of RDECOM, stopped at Picatinny to deliver an important message. Click the link to find out what he had to say.

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RDECOM shares contracting opportunities at APBI

Jill Smith, acting deputy director of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, discusses RDECOM’s partnerships with industry during the Advanced Planning Briefing for Industry conference at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Dec. 5.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command presented contracting opportunities Dec. 5 as part of APG’s first installation-wide Advanced Planning Briefing for Industry, or APBI, conference.

Jill Smith, RDECOM acting deputy director, provided an overview of the command and discussed how the Army’s research and development community partners with industry during her opening remarks at the Post Theater.

“Across the command, we leverage industry for about 40 percent of applied research funding,” Smith said. “RDECOM partners with industry for about 60 percent of RDECOM’s advanced technology development budget because that process involves integration, and we want industry to be prepared if we proceed to production in quantity.”

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http://go.usa.gov/gX5F

Army scientists improve garbage-to-energy prototype device

With a zero carbon footprint, the improved TGER 2.0 prototype reduces the volume of waste in 30 to one ratio. According to ECBC scientist James Valdes, 30 cubic yards of trash could be reduced to one cubic yard of ash.

With a zero carbon footprint, the improved TGER 2.0 prototype reduces the volume of waste in 30 to one ratio. According to ECBC scientist James Valdes, 30 cubic yards of trash could be reduced to one cubic yard of ash.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The year was 2008 and the on-going war in Iraq was a dangerous landscape for Soldiers on the ground, especially convoys traveling to and from base camps.

Roadside bombs and enemy ambushes were frequent occurrences for U.S. Armed Forces transporting fuel, a risk that may be reduced if camps are equipped with a Tactical Garbage to Energy Refinery prototype.

“If you’re a forward-operating base, you don’t want a local contractor coming in to haul your garbage out because you don’t know if they’re good guys or bad guys,” said Dr. James Valdes, a senior technologist at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center. “You also don’t want to be hauling fuel in because those convoys are targets and risk the lives of Soldiers and contractors.”

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Army uses battlefield forensics to trace explosives

RCI technology spatially identifies trace amounts of explosives by collecting thousands of wavelengths of scattered light across magnified images of a collected fingerprint.

RCI technology spatially identifies trace amounts of explosives by collecting thousands of wavelengths of scattered light across magnified images of a collected fingerprint.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — A scene decimated by a suicide bomber or an improvised explosive device leaves little evidence of what life was like before its destruction. It does, however, leave traces of life in fingerprints that can be collected by weapons intelligence personnel and analyzed at forensic laboratories to identify the enemy behind the explosion.

“The Department of Defense has adopted battlefield forensics as a capability for future operations, primarily from the counter insurgency operations that have gone on in both Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Dr. Augustus W. Fountain III, a senior research scientist at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.

“When the Warfighter is confronted with an enemy that’s not wearing a uniform, they’re shadows that don’t follow the normal conventions of a Westphalian state army. So you have to be able to separate the sheep from the goats in that environment, and in many cases, forensics has been very instrumental in identifying a bad actor, or a person who has left significant evidence that builds up into a case file and then gets turn over to local authorities for prosecution.”

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Army biologist developing next-generation tools for Soldiers

 

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — U.S. Army scientists are developing new technologies, including smartphones that detect and identify chemical and biological agents, to empower Soldiers.

Dr. Calvin Chue, a research biologist with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, or RDECOM, is focused on the next generation of devices to protect Soldiers and civilians against unknown chemical or biological threats.

To read more:

http://go.usa.gov/gT4Y

Army chemist provides expertise on unknown samples

Jennifer Exelby leads 10 chemical-agent handlers for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — U.S. Army scientists analyze unknown samples to determine whether hazardous chemical or biological warfare agents are present. Samples come from around the world.

Jennifer Exelby, a chemist, leads 10 chemical-agent handlers for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, or ECBC.

“I never would have thought that I would be working with chemical warfare materials,” said Exelby, who serves as the acting chief of the Chemical Operations Branch. “This is a world that I didn’t even know existed until I got the job at ECBC.”

Read more on Army.mil

Protection from biological agents is Army scientist’s mission

Dr. Mary M. Wade serves as acting chief of the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s BioDefense Branch.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Biological agents remain a persistent threat to America and its Soldiers. U.S. Army scientists are researching new technologies to counter bioweapons in order to keep the nation safe.

Mary M. Wade, a supervisory biologist with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, described her team’s work in the areas of detection and decontamination.

“Biodefense research is vital to continuing to protect the warfighter and the nation from potential threats,” Wade said. “We have to be ready. We have to be able to respond, counter threats, and detect threats.”

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Army researchers use cutting edge 3D printers

Photo Credit: Mr. David McNally (RDECOM) Inside a massive 3D printer a delicate head moves at lightning speed to precisely deposit heated plastic layer-by-layer to create a hardened part.

Photo Credit: Mr. David McNally (RDECOM)
Inside a massive 3D printer a delicate head moves at lightning speed to precisely deposit heated plastic layer-by-layer to create a hardened part.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — When you walk into this research lab you hear the overpowering hum of massive machines with robotic parts swinging past viewing windows as technicians spray objects with lasers attached to limber metallic arms.

Fifty years ago what goes on in this lab would have been considered science fiction, but what these Army researchers do is scientific fact.

These artisan engineers create three-dimensional objects out of plastic and metal in printers that seem more like Star Trek replicators.

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Army, Chilean officials discuss research, development cooperation

Robert Kristovich (right), research chemist with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, explains his work at RDECOM’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center to the visiting Chilean Army officers at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Sept. 26.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Sept. 27, 2012) — Three Chilean Army officers visited the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Sept. 24-26, to learn about its science and technology capabilities for potential collaboration between the countries.

The Chilean officers, Brig. Gen. Ricardo Martinez Menanteau, Col. Juan Guerra Bazaes and Col. Luis Araya Cano, toured RDECOM’s three research and engineering centers at Aberdeen Proving Ground — the Army Research Laboratory, known as ARL; Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; and Edgewood Chemical Biological Center. 

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Scientist begins Army career, protects nation against chemical warfare agents

 

Brandon Bruey, a chemist with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, handles, synthesizes, purifies and destroys chemical agents.

 

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — A recent college graduate moved from Texas to Maryland so he could work with the best scientists in the field of chemical defense.

Brandon Bruey, a chemist with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, said his position allows him the best opportunity to use classroom principles for real-world applications.

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Army scientist recalls six decades of inquiry, breakthroughs

Harry Salem serves as chief scientist of life sciences for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — After more than 60 years as a researcher, educator and mentor, Harry Salem remains committed to advancing the field of science in the U.S. Army.

Salem’s talents and expertise led to an already distinguished career spanning three decades in pharmacology and toxicology — including the development of the cold and cough remedies NyQuil and Contac as well as the extended-wear soft contact lens Permalens — all before joining the Army as a civilian scientist in 1984.

In his current role as the chief scientist of life sciences, Salem oversees and guides research efforts at the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center. He has recently created a Center of Excellence for Stem Cell Research, recruiting 12 post-doctoral students to help embark on his vision.

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For Soldiers of all sizes, engineer ensures the right mask

Cindy Learn, left, a system engineer with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, adjusts the components of the M45 mask to ensure a proper fit. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

Cindy Learn, left, a system engineer with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, adjusts the components of the M45 mask to ensure a proper fit. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — An ill-fitting chemical-biological protective mask could expose Soldiers to potentially lethal hazards during combat.

For Soldiers who cannot find a proper fit with a standard-issue mask, Cindy Learn and her colleagues are working to avoid any gaps in protection. Learn, a system engineer with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, says her goal is to ensure users are safe from chemical, biological and radioactive particulate threats.

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Chemist helps bolster Army’s detection of emerging threats

Rod Fry (right), a chemist with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, discusses the results of data collected on a Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometer instrument with chemist Edgar Gonzalez at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

Rod Fry (right), a chemist with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, discusses the results of data collected on a Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometer instrument with chemist Edgar Gonzalez at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Aug. 23, 2012) — U.S. Army scientists are researching improved technology to detect chemical hazards to ensure the safety of Soldiers against emerging threats.

Rod Fry, a chemist with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, is helping to lead the effort for RDECOM’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.

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Army engineer strengthens international ties in CBRN defense

Jorge Christian serves as chief of RDECOM's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's Protection Engineering Division within the Engineering Directorate. He supports individual and collective protection through his expertise in engineering life cycle acquisition and technical support. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

Jorge Christian serves as chief of RDECOM’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s Protection Engineering Division within the Engineering Directorate. He supports individual and collective protection through his expertise in engineering life cycle acquisition and technical support. (U.S. Army photo by Tom Faulkner)

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — A U.S. Army engineer is bringing the expertise of America’s military scientific community to ensure America’s allies are safe from chemical and biological agents.

Jorge Christian, with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, uses his 27 years of experience in chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear protection to provide the best equipment for American Soldiers as well as international partners.

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Army promotes science, technology opportunities to Harford students

Edgewood Middle School students extract strawberry DNA during the Technology Needs Teens program at Harford Community College May 24 at Bel Air, Md. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

Edgewood Middle School students extract strawberry DNA during the Technology Needs Teens program at Harford Community College May 24 at Bel Air, Md. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

By Dan Lafontaine, RDECOM Public Affairs

BEL AIR, Md. — Eighth-grade students explored emerging global-mapping software and DNA extraction with U.S. Army scientists May 24 to boost their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM education.

The Army, technology manufacturers and universities joined about 180 eighth-graders from nine Harford County middle schools. The scientists showcased the array of career opportunities in STEM fields as part of the fifth annual Technology Needs Teens program at Harford Community College.

Lanie Wallace, a research biologist with the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, led students through a hands-on demonstration of extracting DNA from a strawberry. She explained the range of applications for DNA research, including medical, pharmaceutical and agricultural.

Mary Doak, ECBC’s community and educational outreach manager, said the country needs students to pursue STEM careers because a large number of scientists and engineers are nearing retirement age.

At ECBC, 44 percent of employees are eligible for retirement within 10 years, Doak said. The Department of Defense has 35,000 scientists, 56 percent of whom can retire within eight years.

Wallace, who attended Edgewood middle and high schools, has started work on a doctorate degree, which is paid for by the DoD through the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation Scholarship for Service Program.

Doak encouraged the students to pursue DoD-sponsored scholarships and internship programs, including SMART; Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Sciences, or GEMS; Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program, or SEAP; and eCYBERMISSION.

Matt Sparaco, a computer scientist with U.S. Army Communications–Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, demonstrated the Command and Control Multitouch Enabled Technology, or COMET, to Patterson Mill Middle School students.

The COMET is a large touchscreen computer that can be mounted vertically to a wall or set up horizontally like a table. Sparaco said CERDEC is developing software to track Soldier patrols, detect enemy fire and view damage from natural disasters.

Students explored the COMET by locating local landmarks using the mapping feature to create fictional scenarios.

Sparaco said researchers are also hoping to add facial-recognition software to allow Soldiers to take a photo with a smartphone or tablet and identify potential enemies. He said the Army plans to transition the software to flexible displays that Soldiers will wear on their uniforms during combat operations.

RDECOM senior NCO discusses command’s support in Afghanistan

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Command Sgt. Maj. Lebert Beharie, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s senior noncommissioned officer, returned May 13 from a nine-day mission to Afghanistan.

In an interview with RDECOM public affairs, Beharie discussed how the command is providing the technological edge to Soldiers deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

What were your objectives during your first visit to Operation Enduring Freedom as RDECOM’s command sergeant major?

“It was two-fold. First, we have folks who are doing great work in harm’s way, supporting the Warfighter. I wanted to pay them a visit, let them know who I am, and talk with them; get their concerns and issues they are dealing with; hear about some of the opportunities they had to support our Warfighter; technologies they were able to help field.

Second, [I wanted] to meet the senior enlisted Soldiers in the battlespace and hear from them how [RDECOM is] doing providing them the resources and technology to fight on the battlefield. That part is just as important. If they don’t know that we’re there or don’t know what value we add, we quickly become low-hanging fruit. As [the Army] ramps down in theater, we become the first to go home. That would be a tragedy to leave the Soldiers without the technology or the connection to the technology that we are able to give from our labs.”

As you talked with the Soldiers and civilians supporting OEF, what support do they need from RDECOM?

“When I was a Warfighter, I did not know what RDECOM provided me. Throughout the [Army Force Generation] process and the re-set process, there was a lot of technology that came my way that we, as a unit, had to integrate into our organization.

It’s the same thing with the Soldiers currently in theater. Some do not know RDECOM existed. They received technology and support from RDECOM, but we need to do better with our strategic communications and getting the word out. Part of my reasoning for going to theater is to get the word out [what] we, as RDECOM, provide and how we can better assist our Soldiers.”

How can RDECOM’s scientists and engineers in the United States do better to provide timely solutions to address these needs?

“I think the lines of communication, the resources that we have, and the reachback capability that we have to our labs, scientists and engineers — I think that is what we need to do better.
Our scientists and engineers are doing a fabulous job supporting our Warfighters. They come to work every day energized. For us to have the reachback from [Soldiers and commanders in] theater, our [Logistics Assistance Representative and Field Service Representatives] help by telling us where the gaps are. [We] fill those gaps in our labs with an emerging technology or [with] equipment we already built to increase capabilities on the battlefield. I think our scientists and engineers are doing a great job.”

Where in Afghanistan did you go?

“I had the opportunity to tour the entire breadth of Afghanistan where major commands are. Those are the hubs. If you get the commands and hubs to understand the type of support that we provide on a daily basis, that will proliferate across the subordinate commands.
We met with [Regional Command]-South and talked with them about our lines of effort and support. [We made] sure we are linked [for] them reaching back to us. They have several ways to get to us. The [Rapid Equipping Force] 10-liner will come back to us. The [Operational Needs Statement] [Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement] process will come back to us. Our [Science and Technology Assistance Teams] in theater will bring stuff back to us to action and provide material solutions to Warfighters.”

How does the RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center accomplish its mission of providing engineering solutions to Soldiers directly in theater?

“What a tremendous capability to our Soldiers. This is a big win for the Army. This is a battlefield enabler having the RFAST-C that forward in theater. In six months, they have done over 177 projects for theater. That is throughout the [Combined Joint Operation Area], throughout the battlespace. While I was there, they were working on projects for the [Afghanistan Working Group] for the Afghan Army. They are working on engineering projects for the Air Force’s AC-130.

You name it, they are working on it. You have a Soldier who walks up to the RFAST-C and says, ‘Hey, I have a problem.’ I met that Soldier, a specialist. He showed me how he came up with the design, his drawings, what he envisioned, and the problem he had. He walked up to one of our engineers and said, ‘Hey, here is a problem that I have. Here is what I think a solution could be. Can you do something about this?’ Our scientist said, ‘Absolutely we can do something about it.’ They put the engineering mental muscle behind it and came up with a great product to fill that Soldier’s problem. This proliferates on the battlefield. It was a game-changer. This was an adjustment that had to be made because of new technology that we sent to theater to protect our Soldiers. We had to adjust how we placed certain items on vehicles.

I cannot speak enough about how great of a resource [the RFAST-C] it is for theater. I spoke to RC-South, RC-East, RC-Capital. I’ve talked to every command, all the way through [International Security Assistance Force] Command, and they all are singing the praises of what we are doing in theater.”

How will RDECOM leverage the experience gained from establishing RFAST-C in OEF to set up a similar capability for future Army or joint operations?

“The Army is looking at what it calls ‘RFAST-C in a Box.’ It probably will not have all the capabilities that our current RFAST-C has, but it will have a lot of those capabilities. There are some capabilities that the Army had previously within the [Army Field Support Brigades] that are provided in theater; however, not in the quality and quantity that is provided through the RFAST-C. With our emerging technologies, I can see sometime in the future that we are going to have an ‘RFAST-C in a Box’ traveling around the battlespace. I think this was the birth of a great idea that will help the Warfighter for a long time to come.”

How can RDECOM continue to share its initiatives and contributions with the Army?

“[RDECOM Director] Mr. [Dale] Ormond sat down with the Board of Directors and came up with six lines of effort. One of the lines of effort is strategic communications. I think I can impact that in a big way through the senior enlisted leaders engagement throughout the Army.

Seeing the senior enlisted leaders in theater is great. However, I think that communication needs to start back here at home. One of the initiatives that I have started is to go out and see the divisions and the major unit commands at home before they go to theater. Let them know what we are and what we do. The Army has an educational process for deployers. Give them ways that they can enhance the performance of their Soldiers and equipment on the battlefield. One of those resources is RDECOM.

I think that we need to make ourselves part of that educational process. Let RDECOM be one of those stops that those commands will make prior to going to theater. There is no doubt in my mind that it will be an enormous game-changing opportunity for those commands. I will take the message out and let them know what we are, who we are, and what we can do for them as they fight our nation’s wars.”

Married Army scientists bolster biological-threat detection

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — A married couple, both U.S. Army research biologists, is working together to improve Soldiers’ ability to detect, identify and protect against potentially lethal biological threat agents.

RESEARCH FOR IMPROVED PROTECTION

Jody and Mark Gostomski’s research at Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, or ECBC, helps the Soldier defend against hazards in the field.

Mark works with dangerous organisms in ECBC’s Biosafety Level 3,. or BSL-3, laboratory, which is one of 45 in the country. He dons sophisticated protective equipment in highly controlled lab conditions to prepare the Army for worst-case biowarfare scenarios.

“We’re dressed head to foot in a Tyvek suit. We have a powered air-purifying respirator,” he said. “Everything we do is double-gloved. BSL-3 organisms are live, and they are higher risk.

“A requirement for Biosafety Level 3 is at least the opportunity to be vaccinated against different organisms — hepatitis, anthrax, botulism.”

Mark is researching the validation of a DNA extraction kit that will replace two kits, which will help streamline the bio detection process.

Jody manages a project to supply genomic material for the Critical Reagents Program. Her role in CRP is to provide high-quality and validated reference materials for use in the development and optimization of biological-detection technologies.

She plans laboratory activities, conducts quality control analysis on the material, and interacts with external agencies.

“It shows how collaboration among members of different branches really comes together and makes for a better product for the customer. For this project, we grow and isolate materials in the laboratory, at both the Biosafety Levels 2 and 3,” she said.

FOCUSED ON THE SOLDIER

Mark and Jody say that while they are focused on their daily research in the laboratory, it is imperative to remember the end-users — Soldiers.

“It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. We do our job, and a lot of times we don’t think about who it impacts,” Mark said. “The work we do is ultimately for the Soldier.”

“The project I’m working on will help the Soldiers rapidly identify biothreat agents using the Joint Biological Agent Identification and Identification System,” he said. “They can find a sample in the field [and] process it through this kit in a matter of minutes. Within an hour, they have their data.”

Jody echoed Mark’s focus on empowering and protecting the Soldiers and Army civilians who will rely on the equipment’s scientific foundation during a mission. She helped train members of the 20th Support Command and CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives) Analytical and Remediation Activity.

“It’s easy to forget how your job impacts the warfighter,” Jody said. “When you’re in the lab in your own little space, it’s hard to see how that has a profound impact on the overall mission.

“I’ve had the opportunity to train mobile-lab users who go into the field. They may or may not be Soldiers, but they’re on a mission to collect samples and ultimately protect against any type of biowarfare agent.”

Jody said the opportunity to interact with end-users has expanded her understanding of the mission.

“I got to step outside of my laboratory setting and take the expertise and knowledge that I learned by working with these biological platforms [to] stand in front of a room of physical scientists and show them how to use these technologies,” she said.

BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP

The couple met in 2004 when Jody joined ECBC after graduating with a bachelor of science in biology from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. They both work for the BioSensors Branch within the BioSciences Division.

Jody said that Mark served as one of her mentors. He started working for ECBC 13 years ago while attending Towson University; he graduated in 2003 with a bachelor of science in biology.

“We really got to know each other throughout the course of five years of working together. We built a very strong friendship, both inside and outside of work,” Jody said.

They married in May 2011.

“What I really like about working with Mark is the reason that he and I became such good friends before we got married,” Jody said. “He is just a great sounding board. He is always the person I would go to when I had issues in the laboratory.

“If I had questions or needed help troubleshooting something, he was always my go-to guy. He always resolved my problems.”

INVESTIGATING SCIENCE OUTSIDE CLASSROOM

Jody and Mark encourage young students to explore science outside the classroom to see whether it would be a strong career fit. They are both studying for master’s degrees in biotechnology at Johns Hopkins University.

“As I got to college and had more experience in the laboratory, it was interesting to take what you were learning in the textbook and see that come to life through experiments in the laboratory,” Jody said. “I liked how hands-on it could be.

“If you have an interest in a science or engineering field, take every opportunity to become as exposed to those fields as you can with an internship at the college level or a shadowing experience in high school. Do something to get away from the textbook and actually get into the field where they’re using the technologies that you’re learning about,” she added.