Over the next several weeks, we will be highlighting various aspects of the upcoming SERDP & ESTCP Symposium. This week I’ll discuss the plenary session and in succeeding weeks each of the Program Areas will summarize their technical sessions. As many of you know, this year we are celebrating 25 years of ESTCP projects so we have designed a plenary session involving speakers with a long history with SERDP and ESTCP who will also be able to lay out their perspectives on the environmental challenges DoD will face in the future.

Following a brief welcome and introduction by me, our first speaker will be Hon. Al Shaffer, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (A&S). Mr. Shaffer was associated with SERDP for many years during his service as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (ASD(R&E)). We look forward to Mr. Shaffer’s thoughts on the interplay between SERDP’s research role and ESTCP’s functions in support of Sustainment.

Following Mr. Shaffer will be a group of speakers involved in the creation and growth of ESTCP. Leading off this group Dr. Jeffrey Marqusee, the longtime Director of ESTCP will provide his perspective as he introduces the Hon. Alex Beehler, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, and the Hon. Sherri Goodman, Senior Fellow at the Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program and Polar Institute.

Ms. Goodman began her DoD career serving as the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Environmental Security) in which position, among many accomplishments, she began ESTCP. I often joke (lamely) that Ms. Goodman put the ES in ESTCP. I spent a number of early Symposia standing in front of my poster waiting for Ms. Goodman to make the rounds and get a taste of what ESTCP was funding. I’m looking forward to hearing her thoughts on what the program has become after its start as a one-year effort.

Before joining IE&E, Mr. Beehler served in the Office of Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment where he oversaw ESTCP. He has been a champion for us for many years and has attended the Symposium regularly since we were able to start it up again. I hope he will give us his perspective on the program both from the perspective of USD (I&E) and the Army Secretariat.

Following our practice of many years, our final presentation will be from Dr. Susan Hockfield, President Emerita and Professor of Neuroscience at MIT. Dr. Hockfield will discuss her recent book “The Age of Living Machines: How the Convergence of Biology and Engineering Will Build the Next Technology Revolution” which I hope will give our engineering-heavy audience an appreciation of how biology is coming together with engineering to produce an array of almost inconceivable technologies which have the potential to be every bit as revolutionary as the twentieth century’s digital wonders.

We will close the plenary session with the Presentation of the Project-of-the-Year Awards by the SERDP & ESTCP Program Managers.