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NIOSH Presents 2019 Awards for Significant Scientific Contributions

April 26, 2019
NIOSH Update:

Press contact: Stephanie Stevens (202) 245-0641

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has awarded several NIOSH researchers and partners for their significant contributions to the field of occupational safety and health in 2018.

NIOSH presents the annual awards to honor researchers for excellence in science that informs and supports the prevention of work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. The awards include the following;

  • 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;
  • Director’s Intramural Award for Extraordinary Science for outstanding contributions by intramural scientists and support staff to scientific excellence at NIOSH;
  • Plain Language Award, for NIOSH communication products that exemplify the content and design principles of the Plain Writing Act of 2010; and
  • James P. Keogh Award for outstanding service by an individual in the occupational safety and health field.

“The annual NIOSH Science Awards allows us to take a moment to recognize the talented and dedicated staff at NIOSH and our partners who are instrumental in accomplishing the important work that helps us achieve our mission of generating new knowledge in the field of occupational safety and health and transferring that knowledge into practice,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D.

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 honors Dr. Leslie Nickels. Over her nearly 40-year career, Dr. Nickels was a tireless advocate to improving the safety and health of underserved workers. She began her career conducting workplace inspection and enforcement in Illinois, where she also established partnerships between worker centers and the Great Lakes Centers for Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health to build worker and professional capacity through education and training. She managed the WHO Global Network of Collaborating Centers in Occupational Health’s work on education, training and technical materials, promoting basic occupational health services in low- and middle-income countries. Upon joining NIOSH in 2010, Dr. Nickels served in many roles including deputy associate director of the Communication and Research Translation Office, associate director of the Research to Practice Office, and co-manager of the NIOSH Global Collaboration Program. Dr. Nickels touched the lives of all who knew her and her guidance continues to benefit workers, researchers, students, and health and safety professionals around the world.

Alice Hamilton Award

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 educational materials.

The work of this year’s award recipients reflects the key to occupational safety and health: prevention. Many of this year’s awards highlight NIOSH research that contributed to new knowledge in the emerging field of nanotechnology. The awards recognize guidance and information needed to protect workers involved in the production and use of nanomaterials, a unique and comprehensive exposure assessment of the actual health effects of exposure to carbon nanotubes and nanofibers, and new research on the potential pulmonary health risks of filler materials, known as organomodified nanoclays, increasingly used for nano technologies. Other award-winning research highlights ventilation strategies to protect workers during aircraft paint spraying, the impact of weather conditions on commercial fisherman and the evidence necessary to support regulations to require life rafts and immersion suits on board, and the unique hazards firefighters face and techniques needed when attacking blazes originating in basements and rooms below ground level.

Bullard-Sherwood Research-to-Practice Award

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 three categories: Knowledge, Intervention, and Technology.

In the Knowledge category, researchers were honored for their work with the Wikipedia platform as one way to make sure that widely available occupational safety and health information is complete, up to date, and free of errors. Not only does this work expand the reach of accurate occupational safety and health information, but it helps train a new generation on science communication and digital literacy. In the Intervention category, the winning entry is a series of short videos capture interviews with fishermen promoting adoption of the safe industry practices and interventions that saved their lives. Lastly, the award-winning technology is a novel field-based exposure monitoring approach—adopted by several mining companies—that can generate respirable crystalline silica exposure data right onsite at the end of a worker’s shift.

Plain Language Award

The NIOSH Plain Language Award recognizes NIOSH communication products, such as fact sheets, brochures, and web pages 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 Original Award was given to What Wildland Fire Fighters Need to Know about Rhabdomyolysis Factsheet and the redesigned infographic Increase Your Chances of Surviving a Vessel Sinking received the Before-and-After Award.

Director’s Intramural Award for Extraordinary Science

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

Christine Whittaker, Ph.D., a toxicologist and risk assessor, received the Distinguished Career Scientist award for devoting almost 30 years to protecting workers from the harmful effects of chemical substances. She has been responsible for the development and publication of dozens of risk assessments that serve as the basis of NIOSH recommended occupational exposure limits.

Rebecca Guerin, Ph.D., a social scientist, received the Early Career Scientist award for her research on the design and evaluation of interventions that address the disproportionate burden of injury experienced by young workers and has looked extensively at developing occupational safety and health training curricula for middle and high schools. Her contributions have the potential for long-term impact on the reduction of injuries and illnesses among high-risk workers.

Carl Sunderman, an electrical engineer, received the Scientific Support award for his contribution in the areas of wireless mine communications, ground support for underground mines, aerosol research activities and his commitment to mentoring young engineers.

More information: NIOSH Science Awards, including winners and nominees for all categories, and NIOSH website for information on NIOSH research and activities.

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).