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NEWS | Dec. 29, 2022

Naval Medical Research Unit San Antonio microbiologist earns Civilian of the Year honors

By Burrell Parmer Naval Medical Research Unit San Antonio Public Affairs

Dr. Yoon Hwang, a research microbiologist assigned to the Craniofacial Health and Restorative Medicine Directorate, Naval Medical Research Unit San Antonio, was recognized Dec. 14 as the Fiscal Year 2022 “Science Staff” Civilian of the Year by Capt. Gerald DeLong, NAMRU-SA commanding officer, during Mission Impossible held at the Tri-Service Research Laboratory.

Working within the Environmental Surveillance and Epidemiology Department, Hwang plans and directs studies in a variety of fields including craniofacial health and restorative medicine, combat casualty care and operational medicine, and allied health sciences with an emphasis on microbiology, animal physiology, toxicology, immunology, virology, bacteriology, biophysics, biochemistry, organic chemistry and medical science.

Hwang, of Seoul, South Korea, earned his doctorate from Seoul National University in 1996 and has been supporting naval medical research and development for 12 years.

“Becoming a military research scientist was the realization of a dream my family and I have had for years,” said Hwang, whose father and uncle served in the Korean Marine Corps. “I know that I have valuable skills and talents that will significantly contribute to the safety of the American people.”

Upon entering the United States, Hwang was selected for a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Health.

“This experience provided me with the use of highly technical facilities and excellent mentors who inspired me to become a more dedicated scientist,” said Hwang, who also earned a master’s degree in Management Information Systems at the University of Memphis.  “This created a solid foundation for my continued work at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.”

Hwang has 12 years of education in microbiology which has equipped him with the whole repertoire of bacteriology, mycology, virology, pathology, genetics and biochemistry.  During his doctoral work, he used Mass Spectrometer and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance to identify several bio-products of a fungus.

Additionally, he attained 27 years of research experience in toxicology, molecular biology, pathology, bioinformatics, and proteomics using Atomic Absorption Spectrometry including Liquid Chromatography with Tandem Mass Spectrometry, or LC-MS-MS.

According to Hwang, he wants to use his knowledge and experience to protect the lives of Sailors, Marines, and their families.

“With the terrible dangers caused by terrorists and other enemies of freedom, the U.S. military needs the skills that I offer,” Hwang said. “This is why I want to serve my country as a research scientist. It is the greatest of honors to serve as a microbiologist, toxicologist, and biochemist researcher in America’s Navy.” 

Hwang’s previous accolades include the 2020 Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Award along with obtaining two patents and authoring of 12 scientific publications.

“Dr. Hwang is a brilliant scientist that works tirelessly to improve the care and readiness of our warfighters,” said Dr. Sylvain Cardin, NAMRU San Antonio’s chief science director.  “He is an indispensable asset to NAMRU-SA and is well deserving of this coveted award.”

NAMRU San Antonio is one of the leading research and development laboratories for the U.S. Navy under the Department of Defense and is one of eight subordinate research commands in the global network of laboratories operating under the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. 

Its mission is to conduct gap-driven combat casualty care, craniofacial, and directed energy research to improve survival, operational readiness, and safety of DOD personnel engaged in routine and expeditionary operations.