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Director's Intramural Awards for Extraordinary Science (DIA)


Science excellence is the foundation upon which NIOSH generates new knowledge to assure safe and healthful work for all. The purpose of the Director's Intramural Awards for Extraordinary Science (DIA) is to recognize outstanding contributions by intramural scientists and support staff to science excellence at NIOSH. Winners of the NIOSH Director's Intramural Awards for Extraordinary Science (DIA) will receive a monetary award that augments the discretionary budget for the recipient for the following fiscal year. Winners will also receive recognition at the annual ceremony celebrating the Alice Hamilton Awards for Excellence in Occupational Safety and Health.

The CDC-wide Charles C. Shepard Science Awards and the NIOSH Alice Hamilton and Bullard-Sherwood Research-to-Practice Awards recognize the scientific contributions of a single research project or activity. The Director's Intramural Awards for Extraordinary Science (DIA) honors individuals for their scientific contributions through a collective body of work. Although the James P. Keogh Award also recognizes a collective body of work, it is more oriented towards service than science as it focuses on dedicated service, training, and research translation to achieve tangible effects on public health practice. The collective body of work recognized in the Director's Intramural Awards for Extraordinary Science (DIA) represents extraordinary individual performance that clearly goes above and beyond past and present basic job requirements.

The Director's Intramural Awards serve as a tribute to NIOSH employees whose dedication to science excellence has made significant contributions to the NIOSH mission. Award categories will recognize experienced scientists, early career scientists, and scientific support staff.

Director's Intramural Awards for Extraordinary Science (DIA) for 2013

Print or view program for 2013 ceremony. This is in brochure format, so please print pages 1&2 and 3&4 back-to-back (in landscape) and then fold into a booklet.

Award Announcement for 2013

Distinguished Career Scientist:


Robert Park is a leader in the development of quantitative epidemiological methods for risk assessment. After working for the United Auto Workers as an occupational epidemiologist for 18 years, he joined NIOSH 15 years ago, and has continued to make important contributions to public health through his research in support of recommended exposure limits (RELs). Epidemiology is often hampered by information based on limited exposure assessment and health effects that are susceptible to many confounders. Mr. Park has worked to clarify the exposure-response that provides a better representation of the actual hazards that workers face. His work on the metric, "years of life lost per years worked," the incorporation of benchmark dose techniques in epidemiology-based quantitative risk assessment, and the application of specialized techniques for unusual epidemiological situations has both advanced the field of occupational epidemiology and allowed NIOSH to effectively use data that were underutilized or unusable previously. He has substantially contributed to the understanding of the health effects brought upon by various workplace exposures, including silica, hexavalent chromium, diacetyl, manganese, cadmium, and arsenic. Mr. Park has also contributed to the assessment of neurodegenerative diseases related to occupation and breast cancer associated with occupational exposure to endocrine disruptors. His work has had a substantial and direct impact on NIOSH authoritative recommendations; his quantitative epidemiological analyses frequently set the stage for additional policy document development and new scientific direction. He has actively mentored colleagues, interns, and students, is always willing to share his expertise with others, and is highly respected in the scientific community. Mr. Park’s scientific activities at NIOSH include 26 presentations, 15 reports, and 58 peer-reviewed publications. He thoughtfully prepares and plans his research to ensure efficiency and to avoid duplication of effort, collaborates with other researchers within and outside NIOSH to maximize his research efforts and reach while minimizing costs, and responds to all requests for assistance and information in a timely and efficient manner. Mr. Park will use the monetary award to further investigate the use of subclinical effects in quantitative risk assessment as the basis for more health-protective recommendations and occupational exposure limits.

Early Career Scientist:


Dr. Chaumont Menéndez has completed numerous accomplishments during her five year tenure at NIOSH. She started working in the Division of Safety Research (DSR) in 2007 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer and was afterwards hired as an Epidemiologist. She has published 16 peer-reviewed articles. Her research focuses on ergonomics and upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders, workplace violence, and disparities in occupational injuries. Her work in ergonomics and upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders has been cited extensively. She guest-edited a special 2012 issue of Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation (Work) that focused on workplace violence, and preliminary results of her evaluation of workplace violence interventions in the retail and taxicab industries have been well received by taxi industry regulators. She published on disparities in homicide rates among retail workers in a special 2012 issue of the Journal of Safety Research that highlighted select papers presented at the 2011 National Occupational Injury Research Symposium. Addressing both violence and disparities, she co-authored an article with an IMHOTEP student she mentored in 2009 that focused on work-related fatalities among foreign-born workers. She also co-authored an article on fatalities in workers performing tree care operations and first-authored an article on the impact of the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program. She has been a contributing editor for Work since 2007 and serves on the NIOSH Diversity Steering Committee, the steering committees for the NORA Wholesale and Retail Trade Industry Sector and NIOSH Total Worker Health Program, and the Academic Research Committee for the International Association of Transportation Regulators. Dr. Chaumont Menéndez received funding for three NIOSH NORA projects on violence in 2010, 2001, and 2012. She is increasingly being recognized externally, as illustrated by the requests and invitations she receives for scientific presentations and interviews on taxicab driver safety research. Dr. Chaumont Menéndez has demonstrated commitment to scientific continuing education and enrolled in the NIOSH mentoring program to enhance her leadership skills. She will use the monetary award to develop, in collaboration with leading taxicab industry regulators and safety professionals, a card that provides tips on workplace violence prevention and safe driving.

Scientific Support:


Mr. Richard Whisler has made exceptional contributions to Division of Safety Research (DSR) research programs. He leads the operation of advanced scanners for data collection of 3-dimensional (3D) human forms and human-equipment interfaces, which are essential for conducting anthropometry research, i.e., studies of human body measurements, and designing safety equipment. For several studies, Mr. Whisler had to transport scanning equipment to test sites throughout the United States. He coordinated the relocation, setup, calibration, and teardown of the equipment and trained contractor personnel on the proper use, care, and maintenance of the equipment, as well as the proper way to prepare human subjects for testing in accordance with approved protocols. He improved DSR laboratory computer systems to ensure the efficient operation of test equipment and data analysis software, combined systems to run on a single computer to eliminate the costs of multiple hardware and software licenses, and fine-tuned human subject testing processes. For example, he created electronic forms to collect data from human subjects, thus eliminating the need to re-enter data manually on paper. Often, Mr. Whisler provides invaluable suggestions which save scientists significant time and resources. For example, during a study on farm worker anthropometry, he worked with scientists to develop a seat that improves seated whole body scans, critical to studying the interface between lower body parts and farm tractor cab configurations. Over the years, Mr. Whisler has received numerous requests to extract data from anthropometry databases. Because this involves opening hundreds or thousands of files, Mr. Whisler wrote macros that open each file, extract the required data, close the file, and move on to the next one. Mr. Whisler is an exceptional manager of time, project funds, and laboratory equipment and materials. Over the past 15 years, NIOSH has earned national and international recognition in advancing the theory and application of anthropometry for occupational safety. DSR has received five NIOSH scientific awards for this research, three of which included Mr. Whisler’s involvement. He also received a Bullard-Sherwood award for his work on construction equipment visibility. Mr. Whisler will use the monetary award to purchase parts and supplies to test procedures for improving 3D image collection, processing, and data extraction.

Director's Intramural Awards for Extraordinary Science (DIA) Top Finalists

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Director's Intramural Awards for Extraordinary Science (DIA) Updates

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Previous Director's Intramural Awards for Extraordinary Science (DIA) Winners

View the previous Director's Intramural Awards for Extraordinary Science (DIA).