A group of 38 advanced placement high school juniors and seniors along with four teacher chaperones from Oxford High School in central Massachusetts took a field trip to visit the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine March 26.
Dr. Bradley Nindl, a principal investigator with the Military Performance Division and host of the visit, keenly remembers the influence that early exposure to science and access to mentors who were passionate about research had on his career.
"I wanted to give these students the same opportunity I had as a high school student whose interest in science was sparked by a field trip to a research center" Nindl said.
USARIEM's research staff consists of military and civilian personnel, in positions ranging from research technicians to investigators. Students were divided into four groups and in round robin format received demonstrations in the Physical Performance/Body Composition/Bone Health Laboratory; the Warfighter Cognitive Performance Lab; the Center for Military Biomechanics Research and the Doriot Climatic Chambers. The scientists who briefed on their research were Capt. Tanja Roy, Capt. Cassie Strohbach, Dr. Joseph Seay, Dr. Louis Banderet and Col. Keith Hiatt.
After the tour, students received a presentation titled "A Career in Research, What Does it Take, Is it for Me?" from Dr. Edward Zambraski, chief of the Military Performance Division. Zambraski defined the difference between basic and applied research and challenged students to get as much exposure to research as they can through coursework, seminars/lectures, independent study projects and visiting research institutes such as USARIEM. He also suggested that each student identify their own strengths and build them stronger (e.g. math, science, arts, history, language, business, education, etc.)
Sgt. Nemanja Pavlovic, non-commissioned officer in charge of the Military Performance Division, concluded the visit with a demonstration on opening a Meal-Ready-to-Eat (MRE), heating the main entree (chicken fajita), consuming the MRE, and the art of bartering the unwanted portions with fellow Soldiers. The female students were particularly entertained by this display and sought Pavlovic's autograph prior to departure.
Students agreed on the return bus ride and reported to their teacher "This was the best field trip ever."