The annual NIEHS awards ceremony took on a special significance in 2016 with the theme “Legacy of Discovery,” commemorating the 50th anniversary of the institute. Individuals and teams were recognized at the Jan. 27 event for their 2015 accomplishments.
“I love this event and enjoy doing it every year,” NIEHS and National Toxicology Program (NTP) Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., told the audience. “I really like to review all these accomplishments and affirm that we are really the best team at NIH [National Institutes of Health].”
Birnbaum cited a long list of accomplishments in public health and awareness, from safety training for workers, scientific discovery, training and mentoring, technical innovation, and community engagement and outreach, to a highly successful active shooter exercise and special seminars for nonscientists. “I saw a common thread of leadership by NIEHS,” she concluded. “I’d say 2015 was a pretty good year.”
Birnbaum then turned the program over to NIEHS Chief of Staff Mark Miller, Ph.D., who prefaced his announcement of the winners with a tongue-in-cheek monologue about the last 50 years, quips about NIEHS colleagues, and the tough acts he followed from previous emcees.
As Miller read off awardee names, Birnbaum handed out certificates, along with a personal expression of her gratitude. A reception in the NIEHS cafeteria followed the awards.
Awards for individuals and groups
There are various types of awards given out every year.
The Unsung Hero Award recognizes employees whose contributions have had a substantial impact on the programs of the institute. These are given out on an individual basis. “It’s a way to highlight people who work hard behind the scenes, and whose contributions might otherwise go unrecognized,” Birnbaum said.
The Peer Award, established in 1999, provides a unique mechanism for NIEHS employees to recognize colleagues who have consistently provided notable assistance to their fellow workers. These are also given out to individuals.
The Merit Award is the highest honor a director of one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) can give to employees. It celebrates scientific and administrative achievements that support and advance an institute’s mission. It recognizes both individuals and groups.
Also recognized were recipients of awards given out at NIH in 2015, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Green Champions Award, NIH Director’s Award, and Fellows Award for Research Excellence.
And the winners were …
Unsung Hero Awards — Chad Blystone, Carl Bortner, Martha Dimes, Barbara Gittleman, Michelle Mayo, Wendy Montague.
Peer Awards — Michael Humble, Rita Jones, Robin Mackar, Kay Tierney.
Individual Merit Awards — Scott Auerbach, Symma Finn, Melissa Gentry, Stephanie Holmgren, Roseanne McGee, Suramya Waidyanatha
Divisional Group Merit Awards
Division of Extramural Research and Training — Symma Finn and Liam O’Fallon, for advancing citizen science in the environmental health sciences field.
Division of Extramural Research and Training — Christie Drew, F.O. Finch, Doug Giles, and Kristi Pettibone, for development of the Reference Parsing and Retrieval Service (RePARS) which assesses NIH grant support for publications cited in references.
Division of Extramural Research and Training — Pamela Clark, Heather Henry, Aaron Nicholas, Kirsten Mease, Daniel Shaughnessy, and Sally Tilotta, for exemplary leadership in supporting the commercialization of technologies developed by the NIEHS Small Business Innovation Research Program.
Division of Intramural Research — Kimberly Burnett-Hoke, Paul Cacioppo, Jane Lambert, Edith Lee, Teretha Lewis, Joan Packenham, Annette Rice, Lynae Thomas, and Craig Wladyka, for organizing the 2015 Women's Health Day event, combining health screening and education for N.C. women with an emphasis on minority groups.
Division of the National Toxicology Program — David Allen, Warren Casey, Patricia Ceger, Xiaoqing Chang, Jon Hamm, Brett Jones (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), Nicole Kleinstreuer, Eileen Phillips, Judy Strickland, and Dan Zang, for validating the use of computational tools to replace a regulatory requirement for animal-based testing, thereby demonstrating the utility of Tox21 efforts.
Office of Management — Steve Herndon, Julie Nixon, Megan Tozer, and Mitch Williams, for planning and executing the first NIEHS-EPA campus-wide active shooter exercise.
Office of Management — A'tondra Carree, Jenn Evans, Ed Kang, Claire Long, and Cynthia Radford, for outstanding coordination of NIEHS-wide workplace special events.
Cross-Divisional Merit Awards
For outstanding leadership and oversight of the CLARITY-BPA Program —
John Bucher, Jerry Heindel, Retha Newbold, Thaddeus Schug, and Nigel Walker.
For leadership in changing the peer-review process and structure of the NIEHS Superfund Research Program P42 Centers — Janice Allen, Linda Bass, Danielle Carlin, Lisa Edwards, Benny Encarnacion, Michelle Heacock, Heather Henry, Alfonso Latoni, Alicia Lawson, Rosemary Moody, George Tucker, William Suk, Michelle Victalino, and Leroy Worth.
For initiating and managing NIEHS coordination of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center Children's Environmental Health Network — John Balbus, Betsy Eagin, Kimberly Gray, Michelle Heacock, and William Suk.
For the development of NIEHS' first 3-D printing symposium — Gary Bird, Rebecca Boyles, Sandra Chambers, and Geoff Mueller.
For development of the Big Picture, Small Talk seminar series, creating opportunities for staff to learn about the institute's work — Gary Bird, Abee Boyles, Rebecca Boyles, Margaret Mooring, Geoff Mueller, Kristi Pettibone, Cynthia Rider, and Elizabeth Ruben.
For developing an innovative trans-NIEHS program to support critical environmental and worker health issues during disasters — Stacey Amesen (National Library of Medicine [NLM]), April Bennett, Miranda Chien-Hale, Betsy Eagin, Stavros Garantziotis, Heather Henry, Chip Hughes, Richard Kwok, Joy Lee Pearson, Cindy Love (NLM), Scott Masten, Aubrey Miller, Liam O'Fallon, Joan Packenham, Steve Ramsey, Les Reinlib, Jim Remington, Richard Rosselli, Claudia Thompson, and Kevin Yeskey.
For extraordinary management of the NIEHS Efficient Spending Conference Travel Program — Matthew Burr, Nathan Coletta, Charletta Fowler, Evan Johnson, Nancy Mitchell, Lisa Rogers, and Angela Sanders.