ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (July 18, 2016) -- A distinguished scientific society recognized a U.S. Army Research Laboratory scientist for "outstanding achievements in and contributions to science, the profession and the society."
The American Chemical Society named Dr. Sandra K. Young, a research chemist and strong supporter of science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach, as a fellow in a July 18 announcement.
The society has more than 185,000 members. A fellow designation is awarded to a member who, in some capacity, has made "exceptional contributions to the science or profession and has provided excellent volunteer service to the ACS community," according to the organization's website.
Nearly 15 years ago, Young started a National Chemistry Week program in Maryland with a small group of volunteers and an out-of-pocket budget of less than $50.
"Through Dr. Young's leadership, vision and determination, the Army Research Laboratory and Aberdeen Proving Ground outreach program grew to a $1 million budget and now includes a dedicated STEM building and a cadre of volunteers spanning across many organizations," said Dr. Rose A. Pesce-Rodriguez, an ARL fellow and senior research scientist. "She quickly became recognized as the go-to person for STEM outreach, not only within ARL, but across APG and the DOD. Most importantly, Dr. Young's programs bring hands-on science to thousands of students each year."
One of the society's strategic goals is to be the "most effective global scientific community to engage members and other scientific professionals to advance science education, research, knowledge, interaction and collaboration," according to past President Bruce E. Bursten.
In 2009, Bursten established the fellow program to honor members' professional accomplishments.
"I absolutely loved that they recognized my dedication to STEM education and general promotion of chemistry in the community," Young said. "It's a great privilege to have worked with thousands of students over the years doing this and I'm really grateful that the ACS sees this as important."
Throughout her career, Young said she has taken a personal interest in STEM education. She ran the APG STEM Center for the first two- years of its existence while teaching and mentoring middle school, high school and college students, and encouraging the continuing education of teachers. She has also taught an introduction to chemistry class for non-chemistry majors at a local community college since 2003.
Pesce-Rodriguez said the secret to Young's success is no mystery.
"Sandy is extremely well organized; she is skilled at planning out an activity or program and identifying the critical components and time lines, and then working with whomever required to get the job done," Pesce-Rodriguez said. "Most importantly, she is a leader who works with folks in such a way that they are happy to help her and to push the mission forward."
As program integration specialist, she currently is the strategy lead for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's International Cooperation and Exchange team, covering the Atlantic region and NATO engagements. Young also manages the command's Engineering and Scientist Exchange Program.
A native of Chicago, Illinois, Young earned a bachelor of science in chemistry from DePaul University in 1994. The University of Southern Mississippi awarded Young a doctorate in polymer science and engineering in 1999.
"I accepted a postdoctoral fellowship with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory's Weapons and Materials Research Directorate at Aberdeen Proving Ground before getting hired permanently in December 2000," she said.
Young has served in many capacities: materials research engineer in the Polymers Branch, technical advisor to the WMRD director, ARL liaison officer for the Assistant Secretary of the Army's Office for Research and Technology at the Pentagon, deputy branch chief for the Materials Applications Branch, materials research engineer in the Propulsion Science Branch, technical coordinator for the Lethality Division and ARL liaison and basic research portfolio manager to the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.
"I've never been one to think that learning is over," she said. "I am set to complete a master of business administration degree at University of Maryland, College Park in September 2016.
Young is also working on her Defense Acquisition University Level III certification for program management.
"I am honored and humbled to have been nominated and selected as an ACS fellow," Young said. "I'm weighing future options. I pursue opportunities where I'm challenged, will learn something new and that make a difference for the Army and the Soldier. I'm excited to see what happens next."
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.