By CECOM Public AffairsAugust 21, 2019
Dr. Benjamin Wong, Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense (MRICD)
What's your current duty station and where are you from originally?
Dr. Wong: "Current duty station is U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland and I am originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico."
How long have you been with MRICD? Do you have experience with other commands or as a service member?
Dr. Wong: "I have been with MRICD since 2011, and that has been the entirety of my experience with any command."
What are your main responsibilities? What does a typical workday consist of?
Dr. Wong: "As one of the lead Principal Investigators on the Inhalation Toxicology Team, my primary duties are to plan, execute, and communicate our research, which focuses on developing and testing countermeasures against chemical threat agents. A work day consists of three components, typically: lab work involving agent exposure; lab work running tests on exposure samples; and desk work involving data analysis, manuscript/grant writing, team administration and meetings. My days used to involve a lot more lab work, but now it is almost entirely work at the desk doing science administration."
What do you enjoy about your work?
Dr. Wong: "My enjoyment for my work is that it's a nice intersection of topic, personnel, and opportunity. I work in an area that is scientifically fascinating and engaging and also supports the Soldier, so I get to do what I want and also have that be part of a greater purpose. I work with a large number of intelligent and suitably eccentric personalities with shared goals, so I get to spend a good portion of my day around people I like, while collaborating to achieve something. Finally, my work offers me a chance to grow, personally and professionally. I think one of the most important components of success is flexibility, which means seeing everything as an opportunity - and that is a task that is easy to accomplish at work, especially given the prior two points mentioned above."
What advice would you give a civilian who is considering employment with the Army?
Dr. Wong: "From the perspective of doing government research for the Army - it is an opportunity to become a more balanced and well-rounded scientist/engineer. We don't have the luxury to have a single focus - supporting the Soldier requires us to think like researchers in industry, academia, and government - just, all at the same time. The best advice I would give for prospective government scientists is to be patient and flexible - it is a job that will challenge you on multiple levels, but one that offers a chance to serve your country, while also offering a great deal of opportunity for those that rise to the occasion."