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ERDC researcher honored by University of Southern Mississippi

Dr. Kent Newman of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center received a distinguished honor from the University of Southern Mississippi — the 2020 Outstanding Alumni Award from the College of Arts and Sciences — in the spring of 2020.

Newman, a research physical scientist with the Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory, holds a bachelor of science in chemistry and doctoral degree in polymer science from USM. Since joining the ERDC team in 1993, his research has allowed him to travel the world, including a deployment to Kosovo in 2000 to support Army road construction, as well as Australia in 2007 to support rapid construction of airfields.

“Dr. Newman is an internationally recognized scientist, a senior scientific leader at ERDC and a strong supporter of Southern Miss,” said Dr. Derek Patton, interim director of the USM School of Polymer Science and Engineering.

Though Newman’s early work in the Airfields and Pavements branch of GSL centered around asphalts, today he finds himself working to bring researchers together.

“I manage many projects in GSL, and with help from colleagues in the Environmental Laboratory, we use various polymer- and chemistry-based approaches to tackle ERDC material science needs,” Newman said. “I also have projects in the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory addressing some niche topics in coastal and estuarine sciences.”

Newman also plays a major role in connecting ERDC to his alma mater, USM.

“I’ve been part of a great team that set up an Educational Partnership Agreement and joint research programs with USM,” Newman said, adding that because of that work, ERDC now offers a master’s degree program in the School of Polymer Science and Engineering with hopes to add more programs in the future.

“The research collaborations are important because we work together and are getting access to premier research facilities and faculty that have great expertise,” he said. “We are building ERDC capabilities and identifying quality students that we can potentially hire.”

His dedication to bringing people together combined with his scientific career achievements made Newman the perfect candidate for the Outstanding Alumni Award.

“He epitomizes the career success and high level of commitment to his alma mater that we would like our students to aspire to,” Patton said.

USM’s award ceremony has been postponed to a later date due to COVID-19 considerations.