BOSTON, Mass. (Apr. 13, 2019) -- Two Soldier-scientists from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) talked to locals today at the Boston Museum of Science about some of the latest research aimed at keeping troops fueled for peak performance.
Maj. Julianna Jayne, a research dietitian, and Spc. Joseph Bistolfi, a medical lab technician, spoke to people of all ages about Soldiers' unique nutritional needs and preventing stress fractures. They also demonstrated how Soldiers eat in the field.
The event was one of many that was part of Boston's first-ever Meet Your Army Week, which kicked off on April 8.
Meet Your Army Week is a nation-wide outreach initiative that sends Army leaders to American communities where the Army has little or no presence. Every year, more and more Americans lose connection with their Army. For this reason, the Army must do more to explain to the American public who the Army is, what the Army does and what the Army stands for.
For Jayne and Bistolfi, the Army stands for innovation. The environmental, physical and cognitive stressors Soldiers can face during training and operations are unlike those in any civilian profession. This is why USARIEM and other Army medical labs exist. USARIEM, in particular, is dedicated to optimizing warfighter health and performance through medical research, and they have civilian and Soldier scientists who are experts in this specialized field.
"Military research addresses the unique nutritional needs and physical requirements of service members," Jayne said. "Service members must do their jobs in all kinds of environments while under stress. Research helps us understand how these factors affect nutrition and performance, so we can mitigate the effects and help service members perform at their best."
"This research not only gives us a tactical edge over our near-peer adversaries, but it also allows us to improve the health and day-to-day life of our Soldiers," Bistolfi said.
Some of those solutions end up in a Soldier's military ration. Jayne explained that Soldiers need a special diet that can keep them fueled in hot, cold and high-altitude environments. USARIEM studies the nutrients Soldiers need, and they pass their findings on to the Combat Feeding Directorate (CFD), from the Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center. CFD uses USARIEM's nutrition research to develop rations that meet the necessary dietary requirements, while also being convenient to eat, durable and delicious.
Jayne, who has served the Army for more than 12 years, said she always had an interest in research.
"Thanks to the Army's many educational opportunities, I was able to earn my doctorate while serving on Active Duty," Jayne said. "I now research nutrition epidemiology and the eating behaviors of service members. I consider it a great privilege to be an Army scientist because I get to contribute to the science that helps fellow service members, while also having the perspective of being a Soldier."
Bistolfi added that USARIEM doesn't just look at how environmental stressors impact warfighter nutrition. The institute also studies dietary interventions that can aid in preventing injury. During his three years of service, Bistolfi has served as a lab technician for some of USARIEM's ongoing bone health studies, including the ARIEM Reduction in Musculoskeletal Injury (ARMI) study, which aims to identify which factors are most predictive of injury risk.
"Being a research technician for the Army means that the work I do at USARIEM directly benefits me and my fellow Soldiers," Bistolfi said.
Jayne and Bistolfi said that many people might be surprised to learn that a person can be both a Soldier and a scientist. Yet, the Army offers both Officers and Enlisted Soldiers many rewarding career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The Army values the contributions made by Soldier-scientists because they provide a unique perspective on Army health and performance. Soldier-scientists often have firsthand experience on the issues they are studying, enabling them to develop practical, innovative solutions for the Army.
"When most people think of the Army, they immediately picture Soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, sending rounds down range," Bistolfi said. "While that is a very important part of the Army, we want people to know there is more to us than that."
"We hope the talk will help people see how science is being used to help our service members stay healthy and perform better in all kinds of environments," Jayne said. "We would also like to bring awareness to the fact that we have service members who are also scientists. Many people don't realize science jobs exist in the Army. We hope the talk helps them see the diverse range of careers service members can have."