By Dr. Chase M. Watters, microbiologist, Naval Medical Research Unit-San Antonio
Editors note: Dr. Chase M. Watters is currently a post-doctoral fellow microbiologist in the Maxillofacial Injury and Disease Department at Naval Medical Research Unit, San Antonio (NAMRU-SA)
There are a bevy of influences that have nothing to do with my decision to join Navy Medicine Active Duty.
It wasn’t my nautical themed bedroom as a young person; it wasn’t the stout figurehead, porthole mirror, nor the wallpaper made of aged maps. And, as much as my mother likes to claim otherwise, it wasn’t the matching sailor suits she made for me and my cousin.
My decision to join Navy Medicine came long after my youth and adolescence, and shortly before obtaining my Ph.D. in Medical Microbiology at Texas Tech University. At that time I was fairly well-versed in the pathways that were open to a microbiologist, but dissatisfied at the selection. I found myself surrounded with opportunities to continue doing what I’d been taught in school, but too few opportunities that would contribute to my goals of challenging myself and conducting meaningful research. I would scroll through job search sites relentlessly, hitting the refresh button like a gambler pulls the arm of a slot machine, just waiting for a jackpot. After seeing a few U.S. Navy sponsored jobs decorating the top of the list, I started to entertain the idea. Curiosity got the better of me, and pushed me, like a west Texas haboob, towards the possibility of a future in the Navy.
My first step towards a career in Navy Medicine was joining NAMRU-SA as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. It was here where the remnant of indecision faded and I dipped my toes into the surf.
Over the course of my year as a Postdoctoral research fellow my internal picture of a future with the Navy changed from a grainy blur to a glossy resolution. This clarity was hard earned; it evolved from interactions with exemplary Navy Medicine Officers, numerous collaborative experiences, and meaningful research at NAMRU-SA.
The project I contributed to as a Postdoc focused on using clinical enzymatic debridement agents against patient strains of multi-drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus biofilms.
I met women and men who made their careers in Navy Medicine, strong charismatic speakers, kind and humorous leaders, fiercely loyal veterans, and inspirational stories of humanitarian efforts. I also had the opportunity to work alongside others from a vast array of scientific disciplines including materials science, electrical engineering, bioengineering, chemical engineering, analytical chemistry, cancer biology, and dentistry. As a microbiologist these are a rare assortment of scientific backgrounds to find in one department; a collection of disciplines I would’ve never come across in the specialized cocoons of academia. I realized that working for the Navy would mean novelty coupled with challenge every day.
My research project in graduate school explored the impact of insulin therapy on diabetic wound infections, and while interesting I always felt that the translation to the clinic was far, far away. In contrast, the research projects at NAMRU-SA are all about bringing scientific solutions to the war fighter as quickly as possible. The project I contributed to as a Postdoc focused on using clinical enzymatic debridement agents against patient strains of multi-drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus biofilms. By tweaking products already used clinically and utilizing clinical strains we can maximize the speed and effective translation of research to health care providers.
I am delighted to join the prestigious ranks of Navy Medicine; providers of World Class Care…Anytime, Anywhere. My name is Chase Watters and I Am Navy Medicine.