Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD – Three industry titans from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center (DEVCOM CBC) were selected as the 2023 Women of Color Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Award winners. The WOC STEM Awards recognize and celebrate diverse women achieving new heights in the field. The awardees include Dr. Patricia McDaniel, Senior Research Scientist (ST) for Chemistry; Debra Thedford, Associate Director for Strategic Initiatives; and Pamela Lamb, Branch Chief for Integrated Product Support – Logistics. These women have pioneered new initiatives within the field of STEM, all while supporting the warfighter.

Receiving the Technical Innovation in Government Award, McDaniel recognized the achievement as a culmination of her life’s work. McDaniel serves as the ST for Chemistry at DEVCOM CBC, providing advice to Army leadership on science matters – a role reserved for the most renowned scientists and engineers performing world-class research and development. This prestigious role is one of only 42 positions available across the Army. In her efforts, McDaniel has driven technological advancements and growth at the Center, including leading the CBC Science & Technology campaign of deployable chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) microsensors in support of the Army’s Maneuver Support Capability Development Directorate.

McDaniel’s extensive background in STEM includes working at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration where she licensed a patent for an invention to Estée Lauder, as well as synthesizing polymers for aerospace application, and developing next generation solutions for security and defense. Throughout her career, she has managed over 50 technical projects along with more than 30 international collaborative efforts. McDaniel has led her programs with a hands-on approach, sharing her knowledge and expertise to develop young professionals in the field. “It was important for me to develop my technical support staff and help them understand what they are doing and why, so they can operate independently,” she explained.

This focus has allowed her to excel in her career, while also enabling the next generation of scientists and researchers to become successful in their career. “I enjoy seeing these young scientists grow, going through developmental programs at the Center, and becoming premier scientists on their own,” she said. McDaniel has influenced hundreds of young professionals through her program leadership. The success of the young professionals is paramount to the values she instills in them. “It’s work ethic, commitment, and professionalism,” she explains. “It’s important that we treat people with respect and that we deliver on our word. I want to make sure the work we provide is quality and the people supporting me and working with me also do quality work.”

Her drive to excel and bring integrity to her work stems from her support of the warfighter. McDaniel was raised in a military family and then married into the military. She has seen the firsthand impact that the Department of Defense provides to the citizens and Soldiers it serves. “That’s what’s so rewarding,” she explained. “In our careers, we can actually develop technologies that keep people safe and directly save lives.”

Championing the efforts of the teams she’s engaged in, Thedford has also been crucial in expanding and developing STEM skills in the workforce.

Thedford was awarded the Technology All-Star Award for her achievements as a leader in STEM. She has extensive experience in chemical and biological defense as well as STEM education. After receiving a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, Thedford joined the U.S Army where she was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps. Throughout her military career, Thedford served in various positions while also obtaining her Master’s Degrees in Operations Research System Analysis and National Resource Strategy. As a woman of color in the STEM field, she completed many “firsts” in her command. She dedicated her career to the defense mission and supporting the warfighter, leading staff assignments culminating at the highest levels in the Department of Defense.
After 28 years of honorable service, she retired as colonel. She was later inducted into the U.S Army Chemical Corps as a Distinguished Member after undergoing a rigorous selection process. This title recognizes the volunteerism and continued dedication to the betterment of the regiment. Individuals who receive this honor continue to selflessly give to Soldiers and the Regiment, committing their own time and effort without personal gain. Distinguished Members of the Chemical Corps have dedicated themselves to a lifetime of service.

For the past 14 years, Thedford has been integral in driving growth and organizational effectiveness for DEVCOM CBC, creating and delegating new functions which led to the development of three departments. In addition, she leads several strategic initiatives in strategic planning, international programs, technology transfer, and communications for the Center. She credits her current success to the knowledge she gained throughout her decades-long experience working as a civil servant, in addition to her strong work ethic.
Her work ethic stems from the values she learned growing up in a working-class family in Mississippi. “Work hard, do your best, be curious, and be committed to helping others,” she said. These values have been integral in her trailblazing success, especially in the face of adversity. Throughout her career, she has been able to navigate her unique responsibilities as she pioneered the way in STEM for minority women through her respective leadership. Committed to a life of service, Thedford gives back to others and to the community. She has dedicated her life’s work to opening doors for others.
Her experience serving the Nation in the Chemical Corps increased her passion and curiosity in the STEM field. She now uses her expansive knowledge gained from serving in the Army, funding contracts from the Pentagon, and engaging in STEM projects to the lead the new era of the STEM field. Her notable efforts have solidified her as a guiding force for future generations.

With her passion for mentorship, Thedford has been a pioneer for the next generation of workers, breaking new ground in creating opportunities for the minority communities by removing barriers and providing substantial resources through funding and various initiatives. Not only does she support students by providing resources, but she also takes them under her wing and introduces them to her professional circle. This enables mentees to gain exposure to a strong professional network, as well as seeing the infinite possibilities that can be available to young minority students. “I’ve always believed that we don’t get anywhere by ourselves. I’ve lived by the motto that if you can’t bring many, bring one,” she said.
She continues this legacy by engaging in outreach for the youth, serving as the corporate agreement manager for a non-profit corporation that engages minority-serving institutions in the pursuit of technology advancement for STEM. In addition, she volunteers as a mentor, raises scholarship funding, and exposes hundreds of students to career fields in STEM through educational outreach activities both professionally and personally.
Thedford has been a champion for diverse thinking, encouraging individuals to make up the next generation of the workforce. Lamb mimics these values within her own team at the Center.
Receiving the Technology All-Star Award, Lamb’s efforts have long been in the making. Lamb began her career early on, starting as a maintenance engineer at DEVCOM CBC after completing her degree in mechanical engineering at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1990. From there she rose through the ranks, becoming a team lead for integrated logistics support management, and eventually, a branch chief. Throughout her 32-year career, Lamb has been a key contributor to the DEVCOM CBC mission by developing, facilitating, integrating, and evaluating the transition of innovative state-of-the-art chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives (CBRNe) technologies to the warfighter. Lamb credits her success to having a positive attitude and a positive support system that pushed her to excel throughout her life and her career. “I had people who pushed me, who believed in me, and never let me say I couldn’t do it,” she said.

Growing up on a farm in Clinton, North Carolina, Lamb was encouraged by her father to pursue her goal of becoming an engineer. Lamb’s mother passed when she was just four years old, leaving her father to care for Lamb and her three older siblings as he tended to the family farm. Unable to pursue higher education for himself, her father pushed his children to strive for higher education. “He always encouraged us to excel and, just like the old Army saying, ‘Be All You Can Be,’” Lamb said.

Throughout her years, she excelled in her education, particularly math and science, skipping lower-level courses for more advanced courses. While attending college at the largest HBCU in the country, Lamb was one of the few female engineering students. This sparked her desire to mentor other young women in the STEM field. As she progressed in her career, Lamb noticed that there weren’t many people similar to her. “I only had a few people in particular to set an example for me,” Lamb said of her experience as a black female engineer. “That’s why it’s very important for me to be that example for someone else and to help others achieve their goals without having to face some of the barriers I had to face.”

Now, she acts as an advocate for diversity to foster talent in the engineering field. “It’s not gender that makes someone successful, it’s not race that makes someone successful, it’s the person,” she said. As a leader, Lamb has focused on developing and expanding her team, earning her the reputation as a transformative leader within CBC where she boasts one of the most diverse teams. “My team is very diverse and does very good work,” she explained. “I want to prove that anybody can do the work if they’re qualified, trained, and have somebody that believes in them. I am here to support my team and take them as far as they want to go.”


For more information about the DEVCOM Chemical Biological Center, visit https://cbc.DEVCOM.army.mil

The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Chemical Biological Center (CBC) is aligned under the U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC) and U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM.)

AFC provides Army modernization solutions (integrated concepts, organizational designs, and technologies) in order to allow the Joint Force, employing Army capabilities, to achieve overmatch in the future operation environment. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of AFC. DEVCOM leads in the discovery, development, and delivery of technology-based capabilities to enable Soldiers to win our nation’s wars and come home safely. DEVCOM CBC is the Army’s principal research and development center for chemical and biological defense technology, engineering, and field operations. DEVCOM CBC is headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

Date Taken: 10.27.2023
Date Posted: 10.27.2023 11:33
Story ID: 456668

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