Researchers collaborate to support future Soldiers

January 25, 2017

By Joyce M. Conant, ARL Public Affairs

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Feb. 25, 2017) -- U.S. Army Research Laboratory researchers conduct peer-to-peer collaboration to discover, innovate and transition science and technology for today's and future Soldiers. It is through this collaboration teams solve challenging problems to increase the safety of U.S. servicemembers.

Dr. Pablo E. Guzmán, a synthetic chemist in the Energetic Technology Branch of the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate, began working for the Army in December 2015. His focus is the synthesis of novel ingredients for explosives and propellants as well as structural energetic materials. After earning his doctorate, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology where he worked on organic methodology, catalyst synthesis/development and polymer chemistry.

His sole intent is to develop technology that gives Soldiers the means to perform at a high level and most importantly to come back home to their families, he said. One of the efforts he is working on involves collaborating with his colleague Dr. Leah A. Wingard in the Energetic Technology Branch and with ARL's Propulsion Science Branch.

"We are focused on developing materials that will increase overmatch for the Soldier, while making them safer," Wingard said. "This includes making energetic materials that can replace inert ingredients and making very high energy materials."

Guzmán said working with Wingard, who has a background in inorganic chemistry, brings a different perspective to their branch and research. It enables them to cover a wider range of chemistry than what would normally be possible.

"Together we are working towards solving challenging material/synthetic problems. Our philosophy is that we can accomplish much more together than individually," Guzmán said.

Dr. Rose Pesce-Rodriguez from the Energetic Materials Science Branch said the laboratory was very fortunate to be able to hire Guzmán and Wingard. She said under their team leader, Dr. Jesse Sabatini, the lab's synthesis team is building and excellent reputation in the energetic materials community.

"I am very proud to work alongside them," said Pesce-Rodriguez. "I so enjoy working with Pablo and Leah; they are sharp and hardworking, and I just love to see ARL staff members who are so dedicated to the mission and serving the Soldier. I know they are going to do great things."

Both Guzmán and Wingard said they are huge supporters of the laboratory's Open Campus Initiative.

"This vision has enabled scientists from ARL to efficiently collaborate with universities and industry. Dr. Wingard and I have established research efforts with Caltech, UCLA, Los Alamos and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories," Guzmán said. "We have also used the Open Campus vision to collaborate with smaller universities and colleges. I feel we have a responsibility to reach out and work with the smaller institutions to help foster research and exposure of federal laboratory opportunities to undergraduate students."

Wingard said Open Campus allows researchers to explore a wider range of chemistry than they would be able to on their own. She said it also gives them opportunities for outreach, such as working with students. She also said working alongside Guzmán has helped opened doors.

"In addition to being a talented chemist, Pablo is very good at connecting people and supporting them in their work. His ability to make connections has opened up a lot of doors for us and is helping us to make fast progress," said Wingard, who also mentioned that Guzmán previously worked as a postdoc for Dr. Robert Grubbs, a Nobel laureate and leading expert in chemistry.

Guzmán said he is grateful for the many mentors he's worked with along the way and gives them much of the credit.

"For me, I knew that I wanted to use my experiences and training in a capacity where I felt I was directly helping people. ARL was the best place for me. ARL has given me everything I was looking for and more. I have met some really awesome people here and I am extremely proud to be part of the ARL family," he said.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory, currently celebrating 25 years of excellence in Army science and technology, is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.


Last Update / Reviewed: January 25, 2017