U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

February 2018

NIEHS legacy of distinction showcased with awards, quiz show, music

The annual event to recognize outstanding achievements by NIEHS was accompanied by a quiz show and house band.

NIEHS staff gathered Jan. 31 to congratulate their colleagues at the annual NIEHS awards ceremony. Each year’s emcee introduces their own brand of humor into the proceedings. This year, the crowd was treated to a quiz show accompanied by music from Chris Long and the Endocrine Disruptors. Emcee Mike Humble, from the Division of Extramural Research and Training (DERT), was aided by Rob Levine, from the Computer Technology Branch. Long is the NIEHS executive officer — and a guitar player.

“The theme of this year’s awards ceremony is Legacy of Distinction,” said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. NIEHS and National Toxicology Program (NTP) Director. “That’s fitting, I think, given the types of accomplishments we’ve witnessed over the last twelve months.” The awards recognized achievements in educational and public outreach, cutting-edge science, and administrative support that keeps the scientific program running smoothly.

Berridge, Fenton, and Birnbaum Fenton, center, was honored by Birnbaum, right, and new NTP Associate Director Brian Berridge, for her scientific work to address nationwide concerns about exposure to PFAS. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

“These are the kinds of achievements that [impact our world] today, tomorrow, and the day after, for generations to come,” she said. “That, by any definition, is a legacy — and it’s a legacy that I, for one, am exceptionally proud to be a part of.”

The humor and flair added by a tuxedoed Humble, Long and the band, and others entertained the packed house. The event was produced and directed by Ed Kang, Employee Services Manager in the Office of Management.

Mike Humble Humble’s low-key humor was well-suited to the quiz show format. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Merit Awards

The Merit Award is the highest honor that an institute director can give to employees. The award recognizes scientific and administrative achievements that support and advance the NIEHS mission.

Suzanne Fenton received an Individual Merit Award for her notable efforts addressing nationwide concerns regarding exposure to polyfluorinated and perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS).

Eleven Group Merit Awards recognized individuals who achieved important goals as part of a special project. Most of the groups involved participants from across divisions at the institute.

Charletta Fowler Charletta Fowler and the rest of the standing-room-only audience contributed to the warm applause for awardees. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
  • For outstanding contributions in support of innovative NIEHS-hosted science technology, engineering, and math initiatives (STEM), including the Scholars at Work program, STEMposium, and Athens Drive High School Professional Development — Terry Blankenship, Abee Boyles, Quashana Brown, Ronald Cannon, Natasha Clayton, Molly Comins, Angela Davis, Debi Del Corral, Willie Cunningham, Angela Dickerson, Lori Edwards, Jennie Foushee, Neil Grove, Heather Henry, Megan Irias, Don Jackowski, Essie Jones, Jacqueline Locklear, Kat McCann, Wendy Montague, Bob Petrovich, Huei-Chen Lao, Charles Lipford, Sarah O’Donnell, Ericka Reid, Danny Sanders, Terrance Saulter, Joel Vannorman, Tanya Whiteside, Mitch Williams, Lois Wyrick, Heather Jensen, Pamela Ovwigho, and Debra King.
  • For successful implementation of the NTP website redesign — Beth Bowden, Mark Colebank, Michelle Cora, Michelle Hooth, Shawn Jeter, Michael Lee, Scott Masten, Alex Merrick, Cori Vella, Nigel Walker, and Mary Wolfe.
  • For outstanding efforts in the collection, analysis, and presentation of data at the NTP workshop on Integrated Testing Strategies for Developmental Neurotoxicity — Mamta Behl, Brad Collins, Jui-Hua Hsieh, Elizabeth Maull, Fred Parham, Kristen Ryan, and Andrew Shapiro.
  • For excellence and dedication to the DERT mission — Joel Collinson and Barbara Ruffin.
Collman, Collinson, Ruffin, and Birnbaum For excellence and dedication to the DERT mission, Joel Collinson, center left, and Barbara Ruffin, center right, received merit awards from DERT Director Gwen Collman, left, and Birnbaum. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
  • For preparing and completing a seamless move to the new Building 110 warehouse —Alex Braswell, Derrick Bronson, Rhonda Carroll, Kenneth Coffey, Nathan Coletta, Debi Del Corral, Ronald Faison, Janice Hester, Donald Jackowski, Kecia Jacobs, Paul Johnson, Kimberly Jones, Peter Larcher, Versal Mason, Bill Mears, Antares Nicklow, John Palmieri, April Parker, Kelly Powell, Nancy Powell, Savalas Rountree, Terrance Saulter, Carranza Smith, James Tarleton, Amanda Thompson, Amanda Weaver, Rick Weaver, Mitch Williams, Rob Levine, Stan McKenzie, and Roy Reter.
  • For outstanding implementation of Fair Labor Standards Act stipend-level increases on the NIEHS National Research Service Awards Training Programs — Benny Encarnacion, Helena Kennedy, Robbie Majors, Elizabeth McNair, Molly Puente, Carol Shreffler, Ashley Singh, and Michelle Victalino.
  • For exemplary teamwork and project management in migrating the institute to SharePoint 2016 — Ralph French, Elizabeth Ruben, Tamu Whitfield, and Tyler Wright.
  • For outstanding leadership in development of a Translational Research Framework specifically tailored to the environmental health sciences — David Balshaw, Gwen Collman, Christie Drew, Janet Hall, Michelle Heacock, Alfonso Latoni, Kimberly McAllister, Liam O'Fallon, Claudia Thompson, Kristianna Pettibone, Nigel Walker, Demia Wright, and Mary Wolfe.
  • For sustained volunteerism to increase recognition of outstanding women in science through coordination of the Spirit Award lecture — Brad Collins, Angela King-Herbert, Kembra Howdeshell, Eli Ney, Ericka Reid, Veronica Godfrey Robinson, Kristen Ryan, Diane Spencer, Vicki Sutherland, and Molly Vallant.
Spirit Lecture Team The team that organizes the Spirit Lecture each year welcomed their award and the visibility it gives to the annual event. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

  • For excellence in design and implementation supporting cryo-electron microscopy at NIEHS — Chris Losack, Stanford McKenzie, Frank Day, John Grovenstein, Christopher Lavender, Lars Pedersen, and Christopher Stone.
  • For extraordinary dedication in supporting hurricane recovery efforts — Mark Miller, Charletta Fowler, Debra King, Andrea Lynn, John McLamb, Julie Nixon, and James Williams.
Zeldin, Gaffney, and Birnbaum Debbie Gaffney, one of the unsung heroes recognized at the event, received her award from NIEHS Scientific Director Darryl Zeldin, left, and Birnbaum, for excellence in managing the Animal Resources Section. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

The Unsung Hero Awards recognize employees who make a substantial impact on the programs at the institute. These are often people who work hard behind the scenes, and whose contributions might otherwise go unrecognized.

  • Debbie Gaffney — For outstanding management of the Animal Resources Section, ensuring AAALAC site visit readiness.
  • Deborah Jones — For exceptional efficiency and integrity in administering the Scientific Review and Evaluation Activities Reports of the Scientific Review Branch.
  • Bill Steinmetz — For exceptional customer service, professionalism, and dedication to the health, safety, and environmental missions of NIEHS.
  • Debbie Wilson — For exemplary organization and effectiveness in administering the NIEHS Summer Internship Program.

Peer Awards were established in 1999 as a way for NIEHS employees to recognize colleagues who consistently provide notable assistance to their fellow workers. This year’s awardees were Chad Blystone, Michael Johnston, Elizabeth Ruben, Mike Tyson, and Molly Vallant.

Fellows Awards for Research Excellence, or FARE awards, are given each year by the National Institutes of Health to institute fellows, based on a competitive review of research abstracts. The 2017 FARE awardees were Franziska Bollmann, Rachel Carroll, Kelly Carstens, Qing Chen, Amanda Conway, Brian Deskin, Kerry Dorr, Chunfang Gu, Juhee Haam, Wan-Chi Lin, Yu-Hua Lo, Oswaldo Lozoya, Kathryn McClelland, Bart Phillips, Monica Pillon, Emmi Rotgers, and David Scoville.

panelists Joseph Dahl, Kristi Pettibone, and Wanda Holliday From left, panelists Joseph Dahl, Kristi Pettibone, and Wanda Holliday ad-libbed and bluffed their way through questions on Olympic sports and other topics.
Ron Herbert, Chris Losack, Mamta Behl, and Troy Hubbard Audience members, from right, Ron Herbert, Chris Losack, Mamta Behl, and Troy Hubbard enjoyed the banter between the panelists and emcee.
Rick Woychik Rick Woychik, the institute’s deputy director, rose to the occasion of the quiz segment on famous, and infamous, deputies.
Stump the Director Stump the Director, one of the quiz show segments, put Birnbaum in the hot seat.
Humble and Levine Humble and Levine demonstrated cross-divisional collaboration at its best, as they led the quiz show, Wait, Wait, Where’s My Award.
NIEHS band From right, Long led the band. Humble joined in on flugelhorn after completing his podium duties. Retiree Dick Sloane returned for the horn section. Singers Virginia Guidry, right, and Alyson Scoltock fronted flutist Laura Thomas and keyboardist Bill Redd, not shown.
Wendell Scott on bass and Jim Linn on drums Wendell Scott on bass and Jim Linn on drums kept the beat for the musical interludes provided by the Endocrine Disruptors.
Back To Top