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U.S. Army
Research Institute of Environmental Medicine

Behind the Science with the USARIEM ORISE Program Manager, Natalia Henao Arango

Natalia Henao Arango
Natalia Henao Arango

How long have you been at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine?

I have been at USARIEM for a total of about six years. The first year, I was as a Biomedical Engineer Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) participant, then I transitioned into a civilian position with the Office of Research Quality Compliance (ORQC) for two years. I left USARIEM to work in the industry, but I ended up coming back three years ago to manage the USARIEM ORISE Program.

What drew you in to USARIEM and working with ORISE fellows?

As a recent graduate, I was so amazed by the different types of research being done at USARIEM and I truly believe in our mission of enhancing Warfighter health and performance through our research. I love that the ORISE Program enables us to not only meet our mission with the help of the participants, but also it affords us the amazing opportunity of mentoring the next generation of scientists.

How would you describe the ORISE research fellowships?

The ORISE is a U.S. Department of Energy asset that is dedicated to enabling critical scientific, research and health initiatives. It is an educational opportunity for STEM students and recent graduates to develop their scientific knowledge and skillsets with through the mentorship of some of the most renown scientists within their fields. Currently, USARIEM has about 60 ORISE Participants.

What projects/tasks are you currently working on?

I manage the overall ORISE program at USARIEM, ensure compliance with all program guidelines and confirm that the objectives of the program as an educational and training opportunity are upheld. I'm also working on efforts to improve the program for participants and mentors alike by developing a team of resources/ombudspersons and survey materials to accurately assess the programs strengths and weaknesses.

Recently, we had our first successful ORISE lunch where participants got to know each other, share wins and challenges and utilize each other as resources. We also hosted a former ORISE and I launched a series of financial planning seminars for the institute's staff.

What aspects of your job do you love and find most gratifying?

The part that I enjoy most about my job are the conversations I have with the ORISE Participants. I love to hear about their experiences and all the wonderful things they are learning. It truly warms my heart to know that they are happy, doing well, learning and feeling supported through this great educational opportunity.

What part of your job do you find to be the most difficult?

One of the most difficult parts of my job is dealing with conflict situations and needing to act as a mediator. This doesn't happen often, but it always reminds me of the importance of effective, open and honest communication, as well as empathy for one another.

When you are not at the Institute, what do you like to do for fun?

I love to travel, experience different cuisines and cultures. One of my biggest priorities is my family, so I love to spend time with family and friends, go for hikes, kayak, cook, garden, and read books.

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Last Modified Date: 11/8/2023