JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash.- Maj. Brian Knott, Public Health Command-Pacific’s chief entomologist, has been selected to attend the prestigious Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Service Chief’s Fellows Program.
Knott, assigned to PHC-P’s Public Health Activity-Fort Lewis, is the only entomologist, Medical Service Corps area of concentration 72B, in program history to have been selected for the highly competitive broadening assignment.
Knott’s journey to become an Army entomologist was a unique one, he said.
“I worked for a family pest control business for over 20 years prior to joining the Army,” said Knott. “It was natural for me become an Army entomologist, because of my extensive experience in pesticide and herbicide through the business, which provided the strong foundation required for a 72B.”
Joining the Army was like starting a second career, Knott said, but knew his prior experience would be critical to supporting the modern warfighter.
Knott’s grandfather, James I. Knott, was an Army doctor who served in the Pacific during World War II. His grandfather’s service inspired Knott to become an Army entomologist, he said.
“My grandfather had many entomology-related experiences throughout his Army career, like treating elephantiasis, also known as lymphatic filariasis, and he used fly maggots to clean wounds,” said Knott.
Now, 15 years after joining the Army, Knott will have the opportunity to expand his already extensive entomology and leadership capabilities through the DARPA SCFP.
Over the three-month course, DARPA Fellows dive deep into specific technology development in areas of interest to them and to their respective service, as well as a chance to understand the breadth of DARPA research.
Knott’s area of interest is pest management generally, and mosquitoes specifically.
“While obtaining my Master of Science in public health at the Uniformed Services University, I studied the mosquito bite through resistance of the Army Combat Uniform treated with repellent,” said Knott. “My last duty station was in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, working as a researcher with U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate-Georgia and this inspired me to continue working in the research field.”
Knott also draws entomology and research inspiration from another Army doctor - Walter Reed.
In 1901, Reed led experiments that proved yellow fever is transmitted through mosquito bites. Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, was named in Reed’s honor.
“Walter Reed’s discovery was a dramatic leap in knowledge and led to many new strategies for diseases like yellow fever and malaria, including insect repellents, pesticide use, and permethrin-treated uniforms, that are still around today,” said Knott.
Knott begins his fellowship next month.
“I’m looking forward to immersing myself in research and bringing this knowledge back to the Armed Forces Pest Management Board to improve our research, development, testing and evaluation requirements for vector and pest management,” Knott said.