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U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research enlisted soldiers among elite researchers

By Dr. Steven Galvan | U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Public Affairs | Sept. 12, 2017


The Department of Defense’s top researchers, scientists and clinicians gathered for the 25th annual Military Health System Research Symposium Aug. 26-30 in Kissimmee, Fla., to showcase the latest advancements in combat casualty care.

During the four-day meeting, two poster sessions were held where 1,247 posters were presented by the primary investigator or a team member to explain and summarize the research and generate discussion. 

Two presenters stood out in a sea of military commissioned officers and civilian researchers – the only Army enlisted Soldiers to present posters at the conference – both from the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, a subordinate unit of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

Sgt. Amber Woodson and Spc. Melody Sandoval, both USAISR medical laboratory technicians, said they were honored to present the research their task areas are conducting.

“It’s good that the doctors in my task area have confidence in me to present,” said Woodson, who works in the Damage Control Resuscitation, Multiple Organ Support Technology task area. “We have a great team and we’re conducting great research for our wounded warriors. I’m proud to be presenting it.”

Sandoval, who will be promoted to sergeant in September, works in the ocular trauma task area and echoed Woodson’s comment.

“This is beyond what I expected to be doing when I joined the Army,” Sandoval said. “It’s exhausting, rewarding and challenging and I’m grateful to be working in a team that listens to my ideas and suggestions and incorporates them into the research.”

USAISR Sgt. Maj. William “Dave” Poist was pleased, but not surprised at his Soldiers’ poise at the symposium.

“It’s gratifying to see our enlisted Soldiers presenting at this level,” he said. “Our Soldiers are walking posters because they do this type of stuff every day. I’m amazed at knowledge and technical expertise.  They make me and the entire institute very proud.”

“It makes me so proud to see the development of our young Soldiers,” said Col. (Dr.) Shawn Nessen, USAISR commander. “I would like to thank those who take the time to mentor and teach our future leaders.”