NIOSH logo and tagline

2021 NIOSH Science and Service Awards Presented at Virtual Event

April 29, 2021
NIOSH Update:
NIOSH employees and partners honored for contributions to occupational safety and health

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has awarded NIOSH researchers, staff,  and partners for their significant contributions to the field of occupational safety and health in a virtual ceremony held today.

“This year we are also celebrating NIOSH’s 50th anniversary,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. in a ceremony held virtually today. “We have made significant impacts in improving the safety and health of workers over the last 50 years; however, our job is not done. We continue to adjust and adapt our research to the ever-changing workforce and workplace. Nowhere is our commitment to this more evident than in the work we proudly recognized today.”

The 2021 NIOSH Science and Service Awards include the following:

  • James P. Keogh Award for outstanding service by an individual in the occupational safety and health field;
  • Alice Hamilton Award for scientific excellence of technical and instructional materials by NIOSH scientists and engineers;
  • Bullard-Sherwood Research-to-Practice Award for exceptional efforts by NIOSH researchers and partners in applying occupational safety and health research to the prevention of workplace fatalities, illnesses, or injuries;
  • Plain Language Award, for NIOSH communication products that exemplify the content and design principles of the Plain Writing Act of 2010;
  • Service Excellence Award for staff who demonstrate excellence in administrative and managerial support to the Institute; and
  • Director’s Intramural Award for Extraordinary Science for outstanding contributions by intramural scientists and support staff to scientific excellence at NIOSH.

James P. Keogh Award

The Keogh Award recognizes a current or former employee of NIOSH whose career “exhibits respect and compassion for individual workers, with tireless leadership, courage, and a fierce determination to put knowledge into practice to enhance their well-being.”

This year, NIOSH honored Maryann D’ Alessandro, Ph.D. Dr. D’Alessandro is recognized worldwide for her commitment to advancing personal protective technologies to reduce workplace injuries, illness, and death. As director of the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, her emergency response contributions relating to personal protective equipment are unsurpassed. With widespread shortages of the N95 respirator, the most common type used in healthcare, Dr. D’Alessandro lead the federal effort to quickly coordinate activities to get the Emergency Use Authorization passed. This effort allowed the use of other NIOSH-approved respirators not normally used in healthcare. With Dr. D’Alessandro’s innovative thinking she was able to lead discussions with manufactures to increase production by bringing previously approved products back to market, reviving production locations, or establishing new facilities. Because of her strong leadership efforts, NIOSH approval time for new respiratory devices was cut from 60-90 days down to 7-14 days, and the number of monthly approvals more than doubled.

Alice Hamilton Awards

Named after Dr. Alice Hamilton, a pioneering researcher and occupational physician, NIOSH presents the Alice Hamilton Award for exceptional contributions in the areas of biological sciences, engineering and physical sciences, human studies, and communication and guidance materials and for 2021, COVID-19 communication and research.

The Alice Hamilton Awards honor outstanding NIOSH materials from 2021. This year’s recipients’ papers, surveys and educational publications, were judged on their scientific merit and contributions to occupational safety and health. This year’s award-winning publications covered injury and physiological distress among workers, 3D printing, guidance for employers responding to COVID-19, personal protective equipment and supplies, occupational hearing programs, exposure and emissions, pulmonary inflammation and illicit drugs.

Bullard-Sherwood Research-to-Practice Awards

The Bullard-Sherwood Research-to-Practice Award, named for the inventor of the hard hat, Edward W. Bullard, and the inventor of the personal industrial hygiene sampling pump, R. Jeremy Sherwood, recognizes recipients for outstanding contributions in applying occupational safety and health research to prevent work-related injury, illness, and death. These awards highlight efforts that demonstrate noteworthy impact through partnerships in three categories: Knowledge, Intervention, and Technology.

In the Intervention category, researchers were awarded for coordinating Activities that Informed the Release and Authorized Use of Millions of Expired Respirators from U.S. Stockpiles to healthcare personal. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers urgently need to know if stockpiled N95s were past their shelf life or how long they had been stored and if they could provide lifesaving protection to healthcare personnel. In response, NIOSH accelerated and disseminated the results of a 2017 NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory sampling and evaluation of thousands of PPE from stockpiles across the country.

In the Knowledge category, researchers were awarded for their work on the NPPTL International Respirator Assessments to Support the COVID-19 Response, which quantified the filtration efficiency of non-NIOSH-approved personal respiratory protection devices that were initially qualified by the FDA for emergency use during the COVID-19 pandemic. This assessment procedure provided useful information about the filtration efficiency of respiratory protection devices that may be used by workers in emergency situations.

Lastly, in the Technology category, researchers were awarded for the Practical Application of a Dampness and Mold Assessment Tool in Schools. The tool helps school facility managers assess dampness and mold in schools. Research suggests that finding and correcting sources of dampness is the more effective way to prevent health problems.

NIOSH Plain Language Awards

The NIOSH Plain Language Awards recognize communication products, such as fact sheets, brochures, and webpages, that demonstrate excellence in applying plain language principles, so that science can be accessible to all who need it. Awards are given in two categories, representing both an original project that was created using plain language principles, and a “before-and-after,” which honors a product that was redesigned to be better understood or communicated.

The award in the Original category was given to the factsheet and poster, Row House Fire Fighting Tactics. The factsheet presenting information on the Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program received the Before and After award.

Service Excellence Awards

The Service Excellence Awards recognize NIOSH staff who demonstrate excellence in administrative and managerial support to the Institute. The following individuals were recognized for their significant contributions:

  • The National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory Administrative Support Team received the Excellence in Administration Team members include John Hillen, Lacy Hannon, Heather Reed, Sarah Babyak, Jessica Butcher, Michael Dojcak, Barbara Ginsburg, Barbara Sheppard, Melanie Street, and Dawn Zubasic.
  • CAPT Sarah Unthank, M.S., Deputy Director, Division of Science Integration, Michael Bergman, M.S., Biologist, National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory and Gene Hill, Program Specialist, Division of Safety Research, all received awards for Excellence in Leadership.

Director’s Intramural Awards

The Director’s Intramural Award for Extraordinary Science recognizes outstanding contributions to scientific excellence at NIOSH by intramural scientists and support staff.

CAPT Elizabeth Whelan, Ph.D. received the Lew Wade Distinguished Career Scientist Award. In her exemplary 30-year NIOSH career CAPT Whelan has conducted critical health outcomes research, identified new problems and areas of research, and mentored numerous staff. For the past 16 years she has been the Chief of NIOSH’s Field Research Branch, where her work has made a significant impact within NIOSH and for workers.

Brenda Jacklitsch, Ph.D. received the Early Career Scientist Award. Dr. Jacklitsch’s outstanding occupational safety and health contributions include over 50 scientific and lay presentations and numerous scientific and NIOSH numbered publications on topics of COVID-19, heat stress, outdoor worker safety, small business, and climate change.

Kelly Vanoli received the Scientific Support Award. Mr. Vanoli is the lead software engineer on the NIOSH Industry and Occupation Computerized Coding System (NIOCCS). He has worked diligently to improve the system’s capacity and functioning, resulting in the system coding over 45 million industry and occupation records, to date, with nearly 800 U.S. and international users.

For more information about the NIOSH Science Awards, including a full listing of awardees and nominees for all categories, visit the NIOSH website.

NIOSH is the federal institute that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths. For more information about NIOSH visit the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).