NATICK, Mass. -- One challenge at the Natick Soldier System Center is all the labs, experiments, and research done on the 78-acre base that most employees do not have the opportunity to see.

A group toured the base on Sept. 19 and saw four different labs within the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. Soldiers and interns were briefed by subject matter experts who explained some of their recent experiments and highlighted the science and research from which new technology stems.

"I thought (the tour) was really helpful," said Jessica Saurman, an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education fellow at USARIEM. "Something that stood out is how different labs interact. For example, it was nice to know that research being done at USARIEM in Military Nutrition does eventually affect the kitchen and the food being developed in the Nutrition area at NSRDEC."

Most of the people on the tour were ORISE interns who participate full-time at NSSC. Currently, there are 50 USARIEM ORISE participants and 45 NSRDEC ORISE participants. ORISE seeks to provide qualified talent with research appointments in government agencies that support their core mission, which is to advance science, technology, engineering and math education and research programs.

"What we do (at ORISE)," said Brianna Znamirowski, ORISE project manager, "is partner with the Department of Defense and other government agencies to provide current students, recent graduates, faculty members and senior scientists with research participation opportunities to strengthen our nation's research and development enterprise."

NSSC has representatives from all of the armed forces. This makes collaboration among the different services and departments easy to manage and observe.

"As a Soldier, it was great to see the work being done to enhance my health, safety and performance," said Eleuterio Baez, USARIEM staff sergeant. "I was aware of what NSSC does but not in great detail. The tour gave some good insight to the research being done for service members."

"The most interesting parts of the tour for me were the altitude and thermal tank research portions," said Maj. Michal Boye, active-duty USARIEM Army research psychologist. "I was fascinated in hearing about what they do and have done, and I was thinking about research areas within those realms that may still need work, what I could do to help, and what variables may still need to be considered from the perspective of military performance. I would unhesitatingly recommend a tour of this type to others."

Both Soldiers are recent arrivals at Natick and said they would recommend the tour to other employees, as would the other tour participants.

"I would recommend employees go on a tour," said Sarah Rudov, ORISE fellow at USARIEM, "because I think it is important and exciting to know what goes on around the base and how influential the science we do is outside of here."

The tour was made possible thanks to the interest a few people had in seeing a bit more of the base. USARIEM Protocol/Public Affairs Officer Kelly Sullivan was more than happy to try and accommodate.

"The tour is something that I would like to do again and invite ORISE from the entire installation," Sullivan said. "We went to a few different parts of the base in this two-hour time frame but saw only a small part of what the base offers. My hope is that the tour will grow and include more and more facilities."