A year’s worth of outstanding effort by NIEHS scientists, administrative staff, and contractors was celebrated at the institute’s annual employee awards ceremony on Oct. 28.
Employees’ perseverance during the COVID-19 pandemic received special attention from NIEHS and National Toxicology Program Director Rick Woychik, Ph.D.
“We met that challenge head on, with quick action by our safety and facilities staff; innovative problem solving by our administrative staff; and remarkable, creative initiatives by our scientific staff,” he said. “We did things we never realized we were capable of doing.”
Participants were recognized for accomplishments ranging from building a research program on the toxicity of e-cigarettes and raising awareness about effects of climate change to supplying personal protective equipment and providing rapid safety guidance during the pandemic.
Read below to learn more about this year’s winners.
Individual Merit Awards
The Merit Award, the highest recognition at NIEHS, recognizes both individuals and groups for their scientific and administrative achievements that support the institute’s mission.
- Kathy Crabtree, for exemplary effort and dedication outside her normal responsibilities in coordinating sponsored travel.
- Robert Petrovich, for outstanding dedication and support of COVID-19–related research at NIEHS.
- Cynthia Rider, for exemplary leadership spearheading establishment of the Botanical Safety Consortium, which is an international effort to innovate the scientific study of the safety of botanical dietary supplements.
- Erica Scappini, for outstanding operation and preparedness in creating a safe work environment during the coronavirus pandemic within the Fluorescence Microscopy and Imaging Center.
- Gregory Travlos, for representing NIEHS on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) COVID-19 Technologies Portal Review Committee.
- Frederick Tyson, for exemplary leadership in building an NIEHS research program on toxicity linked to e-cigarettes and vaping.
- Rita Volochayev, for exemplary professionalism and participation in supporting COVID-19–related clinical and clinical research activities during the pandemic.
- Vickie Walker, for exemplary implementation and development of machine-learning technologies to improve reference screening and data extraction for literature-based evaluations.
- Carmen Williams, for exemplary research, communication, mentoring, and service to the Reproductive and Developmental Biology Laboratory and NIEHS.
Group Merit Awards
- Animal Colony Optimization Team, for exemplary efficiency, professionalism, and initiative in managing animal colonies and ensuring successful continuation of animal studies during a period of reduced staffing. Laura Degraff, Ligon Perrow.
- Animal Use Refinement Team, for continuous initiative, creative approaches, and successful outcomes in animal use refinements. David Goulding, Rebecca Wiltshire, Terry Blankenship.
- Autism Program, for extraordinary initiative and leadership in carrying out activities to improve knowledge in environmental etiology of autism spectrum disorder for the benefit of public health. Amanda Garton, Astrid Haugen, Cindy Lawler.
- Climate Change Awareness Team, for extraordinary effort and achievement in raising awareness about the health impacts of climate change within the NIEHS community and among stakeholders. Abee Boyles, Ann Liu, Ian Thomas, John Balbus, Kimberly Thigpen-Tart, Stephanie Holmgren, Tiffany Bowen, Trisha Castriano.
- Clinical Research Unit Team, for exemplary performance in reopening the Clinical Research Unit, developing and starting two new studies addressing COVID-19, and continuing the work on critical research studies. Alexander Njunge, Anna Drude, Audrey Brown, Bona Purse, Breana Beery, Brittany Mosley, Catherine Wild, Chris McGee, Christopher Wommack, Craig Wladyka, Cynthia Smith, Gladys Gonzales, Heidi Rogers, Jane Lambert, Joanne Harlin, Kathy Hampton, Kim Burnette Hoke, Kimberly Downey, Lisa Barber, Margaret George, Meghan Moscato, Nicole Edwards, Rebecca Church, Ruhani Agrawal, Xiomara Hodge.
- Committee on Promotions Application Team, for exemplary achievement in developing the Title 42 Committees on Promotion (COP) application improving effectiveness, efficiency and transparency of the DIR and DNTP COP review processes. Chris Fisher, Dan Rich, Elizabeth Ruben, Gary Bird, Luana Fernandes, Myra Westmoreland, Ravi Kosuri, Sandy Henriquez, Sree Pallavi Thota.
- COVID Communications Team, for the rapid development of clear guidance and information to ensure the health and safety of NIEHS staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Arrash Yazdani, Carol Kelly, Cheryl Thompson, Christine Flowers, David Iversen, Janet Hall, Joe Poccia, John McLamb, Mitch Williams, Paul Johnson, Rob Levine, Steve Novak.
- COVID Diagnostic Innovation Team, for developing an innovative diagnostic method to assist in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Brian Papas, Douglas Bell, Oswaldo Lozoya.
- COVID Response Health and Safety Team, for exemplary performance in ensuring a safe workplace for the NIEHS onsite staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amanda Thompson, Amelia Pearson, Andy Hodgson, Antares Nicklow, Arrash Yazdani, Bill Steinmetz, Brian Berridge, Carranza Smith, Charles Lipford, Darryl Zeldin, Ericka Pearce, Greg Westmoreland, John McLamb, Kent Cameron, Kerri Hartung, Larry Rogers, Paul Doetsch, Paul Johnson, Steve Novak.
- DERT (Division of Extramural Research and Training) Administrative Team, for exemplary teamwork, integrity, efficiency, and professionalism in administering administrative activities for DERT. Angela Sanders, Elizabeth McMillan, Helena Bonner, Joel Collinson, Katherine McGinnis, Leslie Lynch, Mitsue Parrish.
- Developmental and Toxicology Tables Group, for outstanding efforts in the development and integration of developmental and reproductive toxicology tables for DNTP reports. Chad Blystone, Christina Myers, Helen Cunny, Jennifer Fostel, Nicole Sayers.
- DIR (Division of Intramural Research) COVID Research Team, for their undaunted response to the COVID-19 pandemic in scientific research and support of COVID research in DIR. Geoff Mueller, Lalith Perera, Lars Pedersen, Mario Borgnia, Robert Petrovich.
- DR2 COVID Response Team, for exemplary support of NIH COVID-19 response through vital access to research study resources to enhance timeliness, data interoperability, and harmonization for the NIH community. April Bennett, Aubrey Miller, Betsy Galluzzo, Chandra Keller, Eric Shiroma, Jennifer Pakiam, John Phillips, Jonathan King, Kimberly Thigpen-Tart, Michael Spittel, Rebecca Clark, Regina Bures, Richard Kwok, Siobhan Champ-Blackwell, Steve Ramsey.
- Environmental Health Perspectives, for exemplary performance and continuity of operations during a prolonged period of unprecedented leadership and organizational change in the branch. Adam Palumbo, Catherine Callahan, Chloe Miller, Erin Dooley, Hui Hu, Jane Schroeder, Joel Kaufman, Judy Thomas, Julia Warren, Kathy Crabtree, Kristen Cosselman, Kelly Lenox, Kristin Inman, Rob Leon, Sabah Quraishi, Shaun Halloran, Susan Woolard, Windy Boyd.
- K-12 in the Time of COVID, for the relevant and timely design, development, and launch of COVID-19 curricula and the virtual facilitation of professional development opportunities for North Carolina science teachers during the pandemic. Alison Motsinger-Reif, Huei-Chen Lee, John House, Tom Randall, Tom Stanley.
- NIEHS Return to the Physical Workplace Working Group, for exemplary leadership, planning, and execution of the NIEHS response to COVID-19 and the return of staff to the physical workplace. Amanda Green, Bill Blair, Chris Long, Christine Flowers, Claire Long, David Fargo, Debi Del Corral, Edward Kang, Gwen Collman, J'Ingrid Mathis, Janet Hall, La Vern James, Mary Wolfe, Megan Irias, Melissa Gentry, Pat Mastin, Paul Doetsch, Steve Novak.
- DNTP (Division of the National Toxicology Program) Administrative Operations Team, for exemplary service, professionalism, and leadership in business process improvements in support of DNTP. Anna Lee Mosley, Beth Perry, Carolyn Hall, Debra Higgins, Denise Lasko, Lisa Wolf, Penelope Williams, Robbin Guy, Sara Page, Virginia Matthews, Whitney Murphy.
- DNTP Reorganization Team, for extraordinary collaboration in carrying out the administrative reorganization of DNTP. Andrea Davis, Angela Davis, Claire Long, Mary Wolfe, Michelle Hooth, Michelle Mayo, Shawndall Fox.
- DNTP Statistical Methods Team, for exemplary professionalism and efficiency to develop new statistical methods for analyzing developmental and reproductive data for the Division of the National Toxicology Program. Barry McIntyre, Caroll Co, Chad Blystone, Cynthia Rider, Gary Larson, Guanhua Xie, Helen Cunny, Jeffrey Krause, Keith Shockley, Kristen Ryan, Laura Betz, Mark Cesta, Rita Ross, Sandra McBride, Shawn Harris, Susan Elmore, Vicky Sutherland.
- Olden Distinguished Lecture Organizing Committee, for extraordinary planning and implementation of the inaugural Distinguished Named Lecture in honor of former NIEHS and NTP Director Kenneth Olden. Allison Eason, Artiom Gruzdev, Chandra Jackson, Charletta Fowler, Darlene Dixon, Ericka Reid, Fred Tyson, Ginger Muse, Joseph Rodriguez, Margaret George, Mary Jacobson, Nathan Mitchiner, Ron Herbert, Scott Redman, Sharon Beard, Spencer Smith, Stephen Copeland, Steve McCaw, Suzanne Marton, Trevor Archer.
- OSED (Office of Science Education and Diversity) Outreach and Research Training Group, for the seamless and effective conversion of OSED outreach and academic-year undergraduate research training activities to a completely virtual platform during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alyse Owoc, Anton Jetten, Cassandra Hayne, Chitrangda Srivastava, Darlene Dixon, Erik Tokar, Erin Knight, Francesco Demayo, Gabe Knudsen, Geoff Mueller, Jean Harry, Jesse Cushman, Jian-Liang Li, Joan Packenham, John Schelp, Johnette Morgan, Joselyne Tessa Tonleu, Joseph Rodriguez, Kevin Gerrish, Lalith Perera, Linda Birnbaum, Linda Yu, Margaret Gustafson, Melissa Smarr, Negin Martin, Nora Weston, Robin Arnette, Robin Stanley, Roel Schaaper, Ron Cannon, Stacy Mantooth, Stan Skinner, Steve McCaw, Steve Wu, Suchandra Bhattacharjee, Sue Fenton, Suzy Osborne, Tammy Collins, Trevor Archer, Yvette Malloy.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Supply Team, for excellent customer service to researchers, contractors, and staff, ensuring everyone had the necessary PPE to do their jobs safely during the pandemic. Amelia Pearson, Andy Hodgson, April Byrd, Arrash Yazdani, Bill Steinmetz, Carranza Smith, Ericka Pearce, Greg Westmoreland, Kelly Powell, Kerri Hartung, Kim Jones, Reginald Moore, Rick Weaver.
- STIC Team, for exemplary integrity, efficiency, and professionalism in conducting the Intravenous Sodium Thiosulfate in Dermatomyositis Clinical Trial. Adam Schiffenbauer, Alberta Derkyi, Anna Jansen, Christine Johnson, Emilia Matthews, Julia Agafonova, Lisa Rider, Sarvar Nazir, Terrance O'Hanlon.
- Technical Review Team, for exemplary performance in providing urgent technical reviews of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulatory rules and policies affecting the NIEHS mission and the environmental health of the nation. Aubrey Miller, Chris Weis, Christine Flowers, John Balbus, Kelly Chandler, Sharon Evans, Sheila Newton.
- VIP Meetings Project, for advancing NIEHS collaboration through the Virtual and In-Person (VIP) Meetings project. Cheryl Thompson, Chris Williamson, Diane Spencer, Gail Kestner, Hans Luecke, Helena Kennedy, La Vern James, Leroy Worth, Matt Burr, Rhonda Carroll, Rob Levine, Spencer Smith, Treva Bunch.
- Virtual Meetings Team, for maximizing virtual meeting capabilities that enabled the NIEHS to continue operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. John Maruca, Nathan Mitchiner, Parris Milly, Rich Cabrera, Richard Kwok, Spencer Smith.
The Peer Award gives NIEHS employees a chance to recognize their colleagues’ professionalism, integrity, hard work, efficiency, and innovation.
- Laura Hall, for exemplary efforts on collaborative DNTP projects.
- Jui-Hua Hsieh, to recognize and appreciate consistent scientific leadership and extra efforts she enthusiastically provides her peers and others at NIEHS.
- Helena Kennedy, for exemplary integrity, efficiency, and professionalism performing divisional tasks that are imperative to her colleagues and the DERT mission.
- Chris McGee, for taking the lead to get the Clinical Research Unit Laboratory CLIA-certified. The acronym stands for Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments.
- Julie Nixon, for outstanding and sustained support of the COVID-19 testing capability at NIEHS, enabling a safe working environment for all employees.
- Nicole Popovich, for exemplary initiative and enthusiasm towards fostering DERT discussions on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Brooke Rogerson, for outstanding professional and innovative work in support of the NIEHS Animal Care and Use Committee, the Comparative Medicine Branch mission, and NIEHS investigators.
Years of Service
Federal employees also were recognized for their years of dedicated service.
- 50 years — Ralph Wilson.
- 40 years — Laura Hall.
- 30 years — Kathy Almark, Gary Bird, Paula Brown, Matthew Burr, Lori Edwards, Ronald Herbert, La Vern James, Shawn Jeter, Andrea Lynn, Virginia Matthews, Sheila Newton, Elizabeth Ney, Robert Sills, Eugenia Thompson, Thai Vu Ton, Frederick Tyson, Francisca Wagstaff, Richard Weaver, and Robert Wine.
- 20 years — Danica Andrews, David Balshaw, Mario Borgnia, Monya Brace, Kaliopi Chrysovergis, Margaret Fender, Patricia Harris, Edward Kang, Huei-Chen Lee, Fred Lih, Jacqueline Marzec, Michelle Mayo, Geoffrey Mueller, Srikanth Nadadur, Hooramack Sobhany, Valarie Sims, William Steinmetz, and Xianhong Yu.
- 10 years — Georgia Alexander, Jacquelin Barbour, Carol Coatney, Joel Collinson, Diane D'Agostin, Matthew Edin, Christopher Ford, Jenny Greer, David Kurtz, Amy Papaneri, Nichole Popovich, Lorin Devlin Sawyer, Varsha Shukla, Angela Tew, Ian Thomas, Amanda Thompson, and Richard Woychik.
Green Champion Awards
This award, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), honors outstanding federal employees, Native American tribal members, and others within HHS involved in sustainability projects. Awardees were recognized during the ceremony, and they were highlighted in the June issue of Environmental Factor.
Fellows Award for Research Excellence
NIH recognizes intramural postdoctoral fellows for their outstanding scientific research based on merit, originality, experimental design, and overall quality and design. Earlier this year, 17 NIEHS trainees received the award.
(Tara Ann Cartwright, Ph.D., is a technical writer-editor in the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)