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Dept. of Defense Organizations Launch Joint Science and Technology Institute

2 Students ECBC Mentor rev

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Joint Science and Technology Office (DTRA-JSTO) partnered with the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC), the U.S. Army Public Health Command (USAPHC), the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory (USACIL) to launch the inaugural Joint Science and Technology Institute (JSTI) from July 28 to Aug. 10.

The two-week residential program, administered by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), afforded 23 high school students and 6 high school teachers from Maryland and Virginia the opportunity to work on leading-edge science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) projects with Department of Defense (DOD) scientists and engineers. Students and teachers also participated in extracurricular activities and toured sites like the Maryland Science Center, Fort McHenry, and the National Aquarium.

“As leaders within the chemical and biological defense enterprise, we have a responsibility to attract and sustain a highly skilled technical workforce that is prepared to protect our nation against current and future threats,” said Alan Rudolph, Ph.D., the director of DTRA’s Chemical and Biological Technologies Department. “Therefore, we asked other DOD organizations to join us in this collaborative STEM effort and to help us provide … an innovative, hands-on STEM experience.”

Students and teachers were divided into research groups led by mentors from each participating organization. Students conducted their science and engineering projects at ECBC’s and Harford Community College’s research laboratories.

“I am very proud and honored that ECBC was part of this first-of-its-kind DOD STEM initiative and that we were able to collectively make a significant impact in the lives of participating students and teachers,” said ECBC Technical Director Joseph D. Wienand.

Students were divided into six groups with research topics ranging from water quality monitoring to the design and testing of military packaging solutions, soil toxicology, forensic science, testing of bacteria-resistant surfaces, and operational research focused on wounded warriors.

“The opportunity to work in a biology lab with an environmental toxicologist has expanded my understanding and appreciation for this STEM field,” said Daezha Logan, an 11th grader from Galileo Magnet High School in Danville, Va.

Cody Short, a 12th grader from Buckingham County High School, Va., added, “This experience has increased my interest in biology, because I’ve learned something new in everything we’ve done so far.”

Teachers’ research areas included the design and testing of military packaging solutions, air monitoring, disease surveillance, toxicology screening, tactical biological detection, and environmental chemical analysis.

At the closing ceremony on August 10, students and teachers presented their research results to family members and senior leaders of participating organizations.

Find out more about the Joint Science and Technology Institute here.

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