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ECBC Helps Create Chemical Biological Defense Research Opportunities for Minority Serving Institutions

By ECBC Public Affairs | November 29th, 2017 | Print

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Photo credit: Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)

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In a rousing panel discussion, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) Associate Director Adam Seiple cited the importance of minorities pursuing a STEM education to have an opportunity to perform research for government defense laboratories.

“ECBC is helping the Department of Defense cast a wider net in the sources of chemical biological defense research it receives by creating a platform for minority serving institutions (MSIs) to perform some of that research,” Seiple told an audience of chemical biological defense experts representing government, industry and academia from around the nation. It was part of a panel discussion held on the opening day of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s 2017 Chemical and Biological Defense Science and Technology Conference held at Long Beach, California, Nov. 28 through 30.

Seiple was referring to the MSI STEM Research and Development Consortium which it helped found with the United Negro College Fund Special Programs Corporation five years ago. It now has more than 50 MSI members.

Member institutions pay no money to join and have the opportunity to submit whitepapers on research topics to ECBC and its partner organizations to perform research resulting in deliverables such as research results and papers for publication. Partner organization subject matter experts select the most promising proposals for funding. Those experts then provide guidance and mentorship to the winning institutions and students.

The panel discussion, titled “Minority Serving Institutions and DoD Working Together to Combat WMD,” was chaired by Seiple and Alison Director-Myska, Ph.D., a team lead for chemical medical countermeasures at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The panelists were Yeoheung Yun, Ph.D., an associate professor in North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s Bioengineering Department, and Michael J. Hester, president and CEO of the MSI STEM Research & Development Consortium.

“This initiative has released $6 million in research awards over the last two years, which is a tiny percentage of overall DoD research funding, but enormous for those MSIs,” said Hester. “Fisk University received $200,000, which is transformative to a small liberal arts college seeking to build up its STEM education capabilities.”

“North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University students have benefitted from the consortium a great deal,” Yun added. “We had graduate students perform organ-on-a-chip research which produced enough results to get two papers published, and we will be receiving funding for a second year. Also, the students who participated shared their research in their classes.”

Working this year to expand the initiative, ECBC successfully solicited funding for consortium research grants from three Army research facilities; the Communication-Electronics Research Development and Engineering Center; the Armament Research Development and Engineering Center; and the Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity. All three facilities are now contributing to the invigoration of STEM research at the participating colleges and universities, and in return, are receiving STEM research and development from non-traditional sources.

More than 100 ECBC researchers are presenting at the conference and are available for networking opportunities with organizations and institutions at the ECBC booth.

For more information on minority participation at ECBC and other DoD laboratories, visit www.msrdconsortium.org.

Editor’s note: More than 100 ECBC researchers are presenting at the conference and are available for networking opportunities with organizations and institutions at the ECBC booth.


ECBC is a U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command laboratory and is the U.S. Army’s principal research and development center for chemical and biological defense technology, engineering and field operations. ECBC has achieved major technological advances for the warfighter and for our national defense, with a long and distinguished history of providing the Armed Forces with quality systems and outstanding customer service. References to commercial products or entities in this article does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. Army of the products or services offered.

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