Friday, June 24, 2011

ECBC Chief Scientist Presents the History of Bioterrorism to a Rapt Audience

Did you know that bioterrorism is as old as the human race? Or that the 17th century children’s rhyme “Ring Around the Rosy” memorializes the deadly pneumonic plaque?

Speaking to a rapt audience of more than 40 people, Harry Salem, Ph.D., presented a brief history of bioterrorism as part of a monthly Science Café sponsored by the Northeastern Maryland Technology Council (NMTC) on June 14.

Salem, chief scientist for life sciences at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC), provided an overview of bioterrorism from biblical times on, reviewing deadly agents such as anthrax, plague and smallpox. He discussed the irony of two men associated with the start of chemical-biological warfare – Fritz Haber and Frederick Banting – who also received the Nobel Prize for their humanitarian endeavors.

“The NMTC Science Cafés were honored to have Dr. Salem speak this month,” said John Casner, NMTC executive director. “Dr. Salem drew the largest audience ever to our Café – over 40 people with standing room only. He riveted our attention on the reality of bioterrorism, from biblical times to its possible future specter.”

“Dr. Salem’s talk was very interesting and enlightening. He’s a tremendously accomplished scientist,” said Nina Lamba, Ph.D., president and chief scientist of CCL Biomedical, Inc., and chair of the NMTC’s Science Café committee. “I didn’t realize all the history of biowarfare, and I enjoyed his presentation very much.”

Salem’s research interests and experience include inhalation and general pharmacology and toxicology, and in-vitro and molecular toxicology. He is a visiting professor at Rutgers University and an active member of many professional societies. Salem has been a consultant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and to the Attorney General Janet Reno on matters of toxicology, and has testified before Congress on this subject. He has published 13 books including three volumes of the International Encyclopedia of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, as well as over 100 papers in scientific journals. He received a B.A. from the University of Western Ontario, a B.S. in Pharmacy from the University of Michigan, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Toronto.

NMTC is Maryland's fast growing technology association with over 200 member companies and supporters providing member access to technology, industry, academic and government leaders in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Northeastern Maryland, the Greater Baltimore area and beyond.

“The Science Cafés are geared towards non-scientist adults, and attract everyone from high school students to professional retired scientists,” Lamba said. “Everyone gets something out of it. For students, it’s great to see an extension of their classroom learning. It’s also an opportunity for them to understand more about career paths. The future workforce will be tackling challenges that may encompass chemistry, biology, electronics and mechanics. You need depth and breadth. Our Cafés bring those experts together.”

“NMTC Science Cafes are a fun way for the general public to take in a short presentation on how science and technology affect our lives,” said Casner.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

ECBC Toxicologists Earn International Team Achievement Award

Ron Checkai, Ph.D., Environmental Toxicology branch chief; Roman Kuperman, Ph.D.; and Mike Simini, Ph.D.; receive their TTCP Team Achievement Awards at the Hall of Heroes in The Pentagon on April 21. Presenting the awards are, left, Mr. Zachary J. Lemnios, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering, and, right, David A. Honey, Ph.D., Director of Research, Office of  Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering.

Three U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) Research and Technology (R&T) directorate toxicologists were recognized April 21 at the Scientific Achievement Awards ceremony at the Pentagon Hall of Heroes.
Ron Checkai, Ph.D., Environmental Toxicology branch chief; Roman Kuperman, Ph.D.; and Mike Simini, Ph.D., received The Technical Cooperation Program (TTCP) Team Achievement Award for their work on Key Technology Area 4-32 “Development of Environmental Tolerance Values for Defense Sites Contaminated with Energetic Materials” led by Kuperman from 2004 to 2010.
Checkai, Kuperman and Simini were recognized by The Honorable Zachary Lemnios, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, as well as David Honey, Ph.D., U.S. TTCP principal; and James Short, U.S. TTCP deputy.
“Having the science and technology [S&T] behind the warfighter is very important,” said Lemnios at the ceremony. “The folks that we are here to honor today have achieved great things for the warfighter and for TTCP. In addition to honoring them for their contributions to the warfighter, I want to thank them for being such great ambassadors to our partner nations.”
Also receiving the award were three collaborating scientists from the U.S. Army Public Health Command, U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and U.S. Army Engineering Research and Development Center.
TTCP is an international organization that collaborates in defense scientific and technical information exchange; program harmonization and alignment; and shared research activities for the five nations, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States. The Scientific Achievement Awards program was established to honor the outstanding achievements of TTCP scientists and engineers. The awards are made based on excellence, relevance and productivity, and all activities must meet an exceptional level of quality of science, defense impact and collaboration.
According to the certificate presented to each ECBC recipient, the TTCP Achievement Award was bestowed specifically for significant contributions to collaborative research to advance the knowledge and understanding of ecotoxicology of energetic materials and to improve the ecological risk assessment of testing and training ranges at defense installations in TTCP nations.
“It is an honor to accept the TTCP award. It encompasses all the work our branch has done with explosives in the past 10 years,” said Simini. “I thank Roman Kuperman and Ron Checkai and the rest of our team. I especially thank [ECBC Technical Director] Joe Wienand and [R&T Director] Joe Corriveau for attending the ceremony and supporting us.”
“I am especially proud of Ron, Roman and Mike,” said Corriveau. “Their efforts during the last several years have brought honor not only to ECBC but also to our nation. The results of their work will ultimately lead to cost savings and healthier ecology on defense installations around the world.”
“We developed environmental tolerance values and bioaccumulation data for explosives, propellants, and related energetic materials for site managers to use to assess the exposure risks at each site, and to manage these facilities as sustainable resources,” said Kuperman. “We made the data internationally available to TTCP nations with our book Ecotoxicology of Explosives. Sharing this scientific expertise has already led to many successful collaborative studies.”
“The ecotoxicolgy of explosives is an area of expanding concern to the U.S. military and its allies. Through this collaborative research program, we have established critical information necessary for the continuing operation and sustainability of military testing and training ranges,” said Checkai. “I wish to thank all my colleagues involved in this program, the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program for funding major portions of the research, TTCP principals, and our ECBC directors for their continuing encouragement and support.”
Ecotoxicology of Explosives was published in 2009 by CRC Press, the principal science and technology book division of the Taylor & Francis Group, an Informa Company.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Engineering Recognized for 10 years of Support to U.S Secret Service ChemBio Program

After ten years of supporting the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) as program manager overseeing a special chemical and biological (CB) facility, the Engineering Directorate’s support of the program has concluded with the decommissioning of the USSS’s old facility and the successful transition of the customer’s program to a new location in the Washington, D.C. area.

In recognition of Engineering’s significant contributions of expertise and support, the USSS honored several of the key ECBC individuals involved in the program at a special awards ceremony in May, held in the Berger Auditorium.

Individuals recognized included Suzanne Milchling, Director of Program Integration, formally Engineering Associate Director when she led the effort from 2002-2010. Other members of the Engineering Directorate were honored as well during the ceremony.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Plant Your Own Flower Week May Become a Perennial Event

ECBC Facility Coordinator Juanita Hubbard plants
calla lilies as part of the "Plant Your Own Flower"
week she helped coordinate.
 Staff from the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center Research and Technology Directorate (R&T) found a fun way to "go green," save money and put a smile on visitors' faces. What's the secret? We created "Plant Your Own Flower" week in May, and our staff brought in spring blooms to express their personalities and spruce up our flower beds.
Nearly 30 R&T staff participated in Plant Your Own Flower Week, according to Facilities Coordinator Juanita Hubbard, who helped develop the event. Staff members from the Bernard P. McNamara Life Sciences Laboratory pitched in to weed, water, spread mulch, apply deer repellent, and plant a range of colorful blossoms, from calla lilies to impatiens to delphiniums to salvia. Those who don’t have a green thumb or weren’t able to make a special trip to a nursery contributed a few dollars to the cause.
Hubbard, who spends most of her time submitting service orders, maintaining common areas, escorting visitors, and troubleshooting, enjoyed the time outdoors. “In addition to enhancing the landscaping, the project enhanced the spirit of the employees in McNamara,” she said. “It promoted unity because we were working together for a common cause.”
“I think that this project gives us (the building occupants) a sense of ownership and pride in our building,” said Biological Research Laboratory Technician Leslie Williams. “It also gives us a break from our desks to go out and enjoy the sunshine.”
“I brought in purple wave petunias.  I don't have much of a green thumb, but I love beautiful landscaping.  The more participants there are, the more beautiful the landscaping will be,” said R&T Committee Coordinator Melanie Pender. “Every morning I smile to myself when I see my purple petunias.  I appreciate all the hard work that Juanita Hubbard has put into beautifying the entrance to our building, and I hope more building occupants will bring in flowers. If this becomes an annual event, I'll gladly participate each year.”
“Flower week was a very therapeutic experience because it allowed me to commune with the Earth by tending to what God gave us to enjoy,” said R&T Project Support Assistant Peggy Furlong. “Our day-to-day routine can be tedious, but now I can come to work and can see the creativity that went into the beautification effort.  It shows the pride for this building and for those who work in it.  There are a lot of green thumbs!” 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

ECBC’s PRIDE Program Offers Workforce New Career Development Opportunities

2011 PRIDE participants from left to right: Evalena Foster,
Dominique McClain and Troy Thompson.

Since its strategy development process began in 2005, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s (ECBC) Engineering Directorate staff has remained engaged in the Directorate’s strategic planning efforts because the strategy itself is relevant and accessible. Just ask Roderick A. Fry, Ph.D., ECBC Chemist and a team member on one of the Engineering strategy’s newest initiatives – the Progressive Rotational Inter-Divisional Exchange (PRIDE) Program.

“The PRIDE program exemplifies the kind of practical application and growth initiatives that are offered via the Engineering Balanced Scorecard strategic management process,” Fry said. “It decentralizes the Directorate’s strategic planning, allowing the workforce to bring ideas like PRIDE to leadership for consideration, develop the program and receive the needed buy-in and support from senior management.”

The structure of the Engineering strategy calls for continuous efforts to educate individuals about strategic initiatives and these initiatives seek to improve daily operations for the workforce — including a specific initiative like PRIDE that provides ECBC’s “rising stars” the opportunity for career development and to gain valuable perspective within the Center.

Currently, PRIDE is designed for GS-11/12s in the CP-16 career field to gain diversified experience within the Engineering Directorate. It consists of two consecutive six-month rotational assignments in branches outside of the employee’s current division.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

In recognition of May's National Military Appreciation Month, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) presents a special two-part blog entry featuring candid responses from ECBC personnel who have served in the U.S. military.

Dean Hansen, Packaging Specialist
Dean Hansen has worked for the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) for over 15 years. Currently, he works for the Packaging Team as a packaging specialist, developing military packaging requirements for products that are entering the military distribution system. Whether it’s “boots on the ground” support or support from his office at Edgewood, Dean’s reputation precedes him as an avid supporter of the warfighter.
What was your role in the military?
When I served in the military I was a Military Policeman.
What are one or two memorable experiences from your time in the military?
The military affords a person once-in-a-lifetime types of experiences. One of my most memorable experiences was being on an assignment on Jet Gun Boats. Where else could a 19-year-old kid find a job that cool? That assignment was quite an adventure. My other memory exemplifies the types of challenges you face in military life - being away from my family two out of three Christmases.
Why did you choose to join the military?
I chose to join the military because it seemed like the natural thing to do – I was an Army Brat.