Lieutenant Commander Dean J. Wagner, JR. enlisted in the US Navy in 1990 and served as an Electrician’s Mate onboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63). He made several deployments to the Western Pacific and the Persian Gulf before separating from the Navy in 1996 as a Second Class Petty Officer (E-5).
After separation from the Navy, LCDR Wagner attended Stonehill College in Easton, MA graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. While there, he developed a program to assist and guide undergraduate students with developing knowledge and skills required for pursuing professional degrees in the sciences. For this, he was awarded the first McDonnel Memorial Award for Service.
While attending college full-time, LCDR Wagner also worked as a research assistant in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Shiromani of Harvard Medical School and the West Roxbury VA Hospital. His research focus was on several proteins involved in sleep regulation within specific areas of the brain.
Following graduation, LCDR Wagner entered Boston College, earning a PhD in Biology in 2006, studying the stress response and unusual peptide production in extremophilic Archaea and B cell activation and proliferation. In addition, he taught undergraduate courses in general biology, biochemistry and genetics, earning the Donald H. White Award for Teaching Excellence.
After a short tenure as a post-doctoral fellow in the Chemistry Department of Boston College,
LCDR Wagner entered the Navy a second time in 2006. His first assignment was to the Naval Health Research Center, Detachment- Environmental Health Effects Laboratory (EHEL) onboard Wright Patterson AFB, OH (now Navy Medical Research Unit – Dayton). While at EHEL, LCDR Wagner led research efforts examining the toxicological effects of materials of military relevance, including tungsten, desert sands and an ‘alternative jet fuel’ developed by the USAF.
In 2009, LCDR Wagner transferred to the Navy Drug Screening Laboratory, San Diego, where he was Director for Laboratory Certification and Information Management. Throughout his tenure he also held nearly every leadership position, including as acting Commanding Officer and Executive Officer. In addition, he was certified as an expert witness to testify in courts martial and administrative separation boards on drug related cases.
LCDR Wagner joined DTRA, Albuquerque in September 2013 as a CBRN Military Advisor and Joint Task Force Medical Planner. He was deployed and lead teams around the world in support of Geographical Combatant Commanders with CWMD expertise in exercises and real world events.
In May 2016, LCDR Wagner reported to the Navy Drug Screening Laboratory, Jacksonville, FL as the Commanding Officer. The lab has a staff of more than 75 military, civilian and contract personnel and processes more than 800,000 specimens annually for drugs of abuse.
Throughout his career, LCDR Wagner has participated on several committees, working groups and crisis action teams from the command to combatant commander levels. Personal military awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2), and Good Conduct Medal.