It's been 36 years since Dr. Andrew Young first stepped foot through the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine's doors as a young captain, and after a lifetime of contributions to the Army science, Young is preparing to say goodbye.
"I've worked here for so long and have so many fond memories, it is difficult to pick any single one," Young said. "However, I think the memories of the many different field studies on which I worked are among the best memories."
Young began his Army career as a captain and research physiologist within the Altitude Research Division at USARIEM in 1977. His preliminary research was in the area of high-altitude physiology and exercise metabolism. Four years later, he left USARIEM for the Department of Physiology at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
He returned to USARIEM in 1983, this time as a civilian research physiologist for the Military Ergonomics Division. In 1990, Young made the transition to the Thermal and Mountain Division, where he began investigating physical performance limitations of humans exposed to thermal stress.
"My personal favorite study was probably the study we conducted with Soldiers from the Ranger Training Brigade at Camp Rudder, Florida," Young said. "The research team performed well in pretty stressful conditions, our volunteer subjects were amazingly cooperative, and the findings of the research, along with other work we did for the Ranger Training Brigade at the same time, enabled the revision of safety tables used to regulate training activities in the swamp based on water depth and temperature. I think those findings may have enhanced health protection for the students at the RTB."
In 2000, Young became the division chief of the Military Nutrition Division. In this role, Young has supervised the work of, and has been an invaluable mentor to, scientists, Soldiers, technicians and support staff. With Young's leadership and guidance over the past 13 years, the Nutrition Division has seen significant growth, attained important partnerships and has accomplished many great endeavors. He hopes that his legacy will lead to further partnerships.
"I hope that by my example, USARIEM scientists and staff appreciate the value of working collaboratively, crossing organizational lines to leverage the talents and skills of colleagues so as to maximize the outcomes of our research projects," Young said. "I also hope that the scientists will continue to take great care with their written and oral communications, and if nobody ever used the word 'utilize' rather than the simpler word 'use,' then I'd consider myself a successful editor."
As a researcher, Young has made overwhelmingly significant contributions to the fields of exercise science and nutrition. He has been the editor-in-chief of the American College of Sports Medicine's flagship research journal, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, for almost a decade. Young has also authored or co-authored more than 140 open-literature research articles, 30 book chapters and 25 government technical reports. His work has been cited more than 2,000 times.
He has been awarded the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Department of the Army Superior Civilian Service Medal, the Department of the Army Commander's Award for Civilian Service, the Department of the Army Achievement Medal for Civilian Service, the Expert Field Medical Badge, and the Army Medical Department's Order of Military Medical Merit.
Last year, Young was presented with the ACSM Citation Award, which is granted only to those who have made the most significant and important contributions to sports medicine and the exercise sciences. Young said that it was through support that he was able to make such accomplishments.
"Over my entire career, I've never gotten anything done on my own," Young said. "I need to thank the many creative and dedicated scientists with whom I've collaborated … and the entire Military Nutrition Division team deserves my thanks for the simply outstanding support they've given me and the directions that I've tried to steer our work. Also, thank you to my long-standing scientific collaborators, mentors and friends, who advanced my career and added to my life in ways I cannot ever repay."
His advice to researchers is to not focus on research simply to see "what happens."
"Then your findings will only be applicable to the specific conditions you studied," Young said. "Instead, design your research to investigate 'how and why it happens,' so that you can extrapolate the results to predict outcomes in many other conditions, populations and situations. That will increase the value of your efforts."
Young's immediate plans are to re-energize and rewrite his life's mission statement. He plans to explore new opportunities to serve, perhaps in local community volunteer work, and also to sell his home so he and his wife Pat can relocate to a more urban environment.
"I've had a wonderful career that has allowed me to engage in fascinating science that I believe has benefited the warfighters and the Defense Department," Young said. "I've gotten to work with outstanding people and travel extensively, and I wouldn't do anything differently. I've focused almost my entire energy on this career. Now, I'm looking forward to figuring out something new and different to do with my life that can be equally meaningful, memorable and fun."