Thursday, September 8, 2011

National Research Council Conducts Staff Visit to Review Postdoc Program

ECBC postdoc Bryn Adams presents her work with quorum sensing.
Two members of the National Research Council (NRC) visited the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) on Aug. 8, to review ECBC’s Postdoctoral Resident Research Associateship Program (RAP).

NRC Program Administrator Eric Basques, Ph.D., and Fiscal and Administrative Officer Julie Parker, as well as two members of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, participated in the staff visit, which included presentations by ECBC’s postdoctoral associates and visits to labs.

“We are proud and happy to have you here today,” said Steve Lawhorne, deputy director of ECBC’s Research and Technology Directorate. “The NRC and ECBC were formed within a year of each other (1916 and 1917, respectively). This has been a good union.”

Basques presented an overview of the NRC, which is part of the National Academies, and of the NRC RAP. The RAP mission is to promote excellence in scientific and technological research conducted by the U. S. government through the administration of programs offering graduate, postdoctoral and senior level research opportunities at sponsoring federal laboratories and affiliated institutions.

ECBC is one of those sponsoring federal laboratories. The Center currently has seven associates on tenure and is considering award offers to three additional scientists. Since 1985, ECBC has sponsored 63 associates. The program provides postdoctoral and senior scientists of unusual promise and ability with opportunities for research on problems that are compatible with ECBC’s interests.

“We are the resident research associateship program,” said Basques. “The intent is for the postdoc to conduct work at the lab so that both sides receive an advantage, including the exchange of new ideas and the opportunity to work with top-flight scientists and engineers.”

Scientists who are awarded the NRC associateship receive many benefits, including a competitive stipend, career enhancement, the ability to devote all of their working time to their research, access to unique facilities, and collaboration with leading scientists and engineers.

Applicants apply online for listed opportunities, and the NRC conducts quarterly reviews of the applications. Evaluation factors include academic and research record, scientific merit of the proposed research, and laboratory technical evaluation and willingness to support research.

During the Aug. 8 staff visit, ECBC postdocs reviewed a wide range of their research – from quorum sensing (cell-to-cell communication) to the potential for human stem cells (sourced from somatic cells) to develop highthroughput, high content toxicological bioassays.

“Listening to the postdocs’ presentations and hearing about the contributions they are making was very impressive,” said Harry Salem, Ph.D., ECBC’s Laboratory Program Representative. “We have seen a welcome increase in our NRC program in recent years.”

ECBC currently offers 38 active opportunities with 18 advisors.

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