Eric Moore, Ph.D., joined the Senior Executive Service in August and began his new role as Director of the ECBC Research and Technology Directorate.
Although August 22 was the first time he walked into ECBC as an employee, Eric L. Moore, Ph.D, was hardly a stranger. As a long time steward of the U.S. Chemical and Biological Defense Program, and former Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Division Chief, Moore has had more than a decade’s worth of experience working with ECBC. Only now, his interaction is as a part of the organization rather than as a partner of the organization.
“I really believe in my heart that this is the premier chemical and biological science and technology laboratory in the world. I believe that the work we do is absolutely critical to our nation. And so, I’m very excited to be here working with the ECBC team,” Moore said.
Moore joined the Senior Executive Service on Monday, August 22, and began his new role as Director of the ECBC Research and Technology Directorate. Moore previously served as a division chief of the Advanced and Emerging Threat Division in DTRAs Chemical and Biological Technologies Department. In that role, he led and managed efforts to provide a robust fundamental knowledge base for countering current and future chemical and biological threats, which brought him front and center with many of ECBC’s critical programs, projects, and people, particularly the toxicology and threat agent programs. Now, he will use those experiences to lead ECBC’s science and technology portfolio into its second century of existence.
“I’ve known Dr. Moore for many years and it’s a pleasure to work with him,” said Christopher Whalley, Ph.D., acting chief of the ECBC Toxicology and Obscurants division, and longtime colleague of Moore’s. “Dr. Moore possesses a tremendous wealth and depth of knowledge and experience in the CBRNE arena due to his many years in the military and at DTRA prior to coming to ECBC.”
Whalley had the opportunity to get to know Moore while working on several DTRA-funded toxicology projects.
“He is considered by his peers and superiors as a subject matter expert in this area. His expertise is in great demand from anyone who works or has an interest in chem-bio defense. His demeanor is very humble. He listens intently to the opinions of others and gives an extremely thoughtful and measured response,” Whalley said.
That ability to listen is part of Moore’s first goal as Director of Research and Technology. Moore said that a major goal within his first 90 days is to get to know the people of the directorate.
“I want to meet our people. I want to understand how they work, where they work,” Moore said. “Then I want to understand the life support functions that impact our work – what’s our operations tempo, how do we play into the budgeting and funding process. And then, I want to hear from our folks about what low-hanging fruit is out there — some short-term opportunities that we can galvanize around as a team and build some success.”
He hopes that over that same period of time the ECBC workforce will get to know him and his values as well.
“For me, it’s all about service,” Moore said. “I’m here because I want to help the people, the mission, the organization succeed. I’m very conscious of making sure that my actions are in the best interest of the Center, our people, and the Army.”
The guiding principles that Moore follows in his day-to-day activities are the Army Values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage.
“I love the Army Values,” Moore said. “I actually live by them, and I think that living a value-driven life is important. I think the Army Values are basic human values – they form the basis for human relationships and our ability to be successful both on the job and in our personal lives. At the end of the day, what we do here – and how we do it – provides us a chance to grow as human beings.”
Moore also draws many of his personal values from his martial arts background. As a skilled practitioner of Tai Chi and Kung Fu, Moore says the principles that martial arts teaches –understanding yourself, understanding the world around you, and how those two things work together – are foundational leadership skills that force you to understand your duty and impact to others.
One of Moore’s initial duties as Director of Research and Technology is to understand ECBCs mission, how the organization sees itself, and find ways to contribute to ECBC’s success.
“I think the most important thing is to understand what that organization is really about in a comprehensive manner,” Moore said. “It’s one thing to look at an organization from the outside and think you understand, but it’s another thing to really hear from the people who do the work and understand how that work is being accomplished.”
Moore’s road toward becoming ECBC’s Director of Research and Technology was built on his sense of duty and lifelong interest in science. He developed his passion for science and technology as a young child growing up in Nashville.
“I remember reading this big book about George Washington Carver at my aunt’s house, and learning about his scientific research with plants. I thought: wow this is really cool stuff, I want to do that too,” Moore said.
While Moore had always dreamed of working in science, working for the military was not always a part of his plan. With his father serving in the U.S. Air Force, Moore had grown up with an awareness and respect for the armed services, but he did not think he would take the same path, until he joined the ROTC program during his junior year at Fisk University. While completing basic training as a part of the ROTC program, Moore had his first encounter with chemical and biological defense.
“We spent a lot of time training in situations where you’re wearing all your chemical protective gear — suit, boots, gloves, and mask,” said Moore. “It’s Fort Hood, Texas. It is 96 degrees. We’re in full protective gear and we’re running. We’re at the rifle range. I can’t breathe. I’m sweating and the sweat is getting in my eyes and I can’t see to qualify with my weapon. I remember thinking that it was impossible under those conditions. I remember thinking that we needed better countermeasures. I wanted to be part of developing better capabilities for Soldiers in that situation.”
After graduating from Fisk with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, Moore accepted commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Medical Service Corps. During this commission, he supported the Chemical and Biological Defense Program in various roles, including serving at U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense (MRICD).
“I first became familiar with the chem-bio defense program, and the mission of protecting the warfighter, while serving here in the Edgewood community at MRICD,” he explained. “In the early 90’s, the medical program and the physical program didn’t really talk to each other that much, but some of us saw the need to have some cross-collaboration. I remember as a young captain meeting Dr. Harry Salem – at that time he was the editor of the Journal of Applied Toxicology. So through him I became familiar with the ECBC community and began forming good, productive relationships with people.”
Those relationships would serve Moore well throughout his career in uniform and beyond. As he was winding down his military career, his civil service colleagues in the chemical and biological defense arena continued to reach out to him for his advice and expertise.
After he earned his Ph.D. in Neurophysiology from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Moore originally planned to follow his military service with a career in the pharmaceutical industry. However, Moore said that the relationships he formed while on active duty paved the way for continued service as a civilian employee.
“I felt like I could make a contribution,” said Moore of his decision to enter civil service. “I think at the end of the day we all want to find an area where we can make a contribution, and there’s definitely a strong need in the area of chem-bio defense.”
Those who have worked with him before, are excited for what Moore will bring to the table in his role as director.
“Dr. Moore challenges you to be your best. He’s open to new ideas and avenues of research. Because of his background and previous professional history, he often suggested new ideas to consider during research,” said Frederic Berg, Ph.D., division chief of Chemical Sciences. “Dr.
Moore’s flexibility and willingness to let the Agent Chemistry team explore has allowed ECBC to remain at the forefront of emerging threat agent science for the past several years. In Dr. Moore, ECBC R&T has a leader driven to succeed, who will not only push you to succeed, but will help you, in every way possible, to reach your goals.”