She was supposed to have stayed just three months, but more than 20 years later, Michele Harris is still hard at work at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center. Now a technical information specialist in the Operational Toxicology Branch, Harris began her support as a temporary contractor working with an early Apple computer, transitioning to a permanent contractor position and then, in November 2009, civil service.
Harris’ resume reveals her dual appreciation of science and writing. Initially providing administrative support when she was hired at ECBC in 1989, Harris soon began assisting a post-doctoral fellow, eventually becoming his lab partner. To build her science background, she earned an associate of science degree in chemistry, supplementing her bachelor’s degree in English. Harris is just four credits short of a master’s degree in professional writing.
Overlapping her time at ECBC, she also spent 17 years in the Air National Guard, leaving in 2006 as chief of public affairs (Captain-promotable).
Now, Harris serves as a writer/editor and technical librarian at ECBC, managing the Operational Toxicology Branch technical information suite. Her 15 years of lab experience helps her understand the information scientists need to do their jobs.
“Michele has been an invaluable resource in both organizing and maintaining the archives of information most relevant to the Operational Toxicology Branch,” said Branch Chief Bob Mioduszewski. “She's been instrumental in helping our study directors search and access the most relevant information sources that they require for both designing laboratory research studies and evaluating their significance and application to support of the soldier.”
“I love my job,” Harris said. “If I had to do just one thing until I retire, this would be it. I love having the opportunity to work independently, to add to the team and to have my ideas considered.”
Harris attributes her writing interest to her father, who was in the Army when she was growing up.
“When we wrote him letters, he would send them back, corrected, and add a ‘word of the day,’ which we had to use in our next letter,” she said.
Far from having her letters corrected and returned, Harris is now an author outside of work, having just published her second book, Soggy Cakes: The Syrup Lady, Part 2, in December. The Syrup Lady: Part 1 and Soggy Cakes were published by Publish America. She is completing her third book, Manna: The Syrup Lady, Part 3. She describes her books as inspirational and humorous.
“Anyone (male or female) who has been in a relationship will be able to relate to the stories,” she said.
Harris, her husband Leonard, four of their combined seven children, and their dog Rosey live in Edgewood, Md.