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NIOSH Presents 2017 Awards for Significant Scientific Contributions

April 27, 2017
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Stephanie Stevens (202) 245-0641

Today, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recognized several NIOSH researchers and partners for their significant contributions to the field of occupational safety and health in 2016.

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:

  • The Alice Hamilton Award, for scientific excellence of technical and instructional materials by NIOSH scientists and engineers;
  • The James P. Keogh Award, for outstanding service by an individual in the occupational safety and health field;
  • The 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; and
  • The Director’s Intramural Award for Extraordinary Science.

“The annual NIOSH Science Awards provides an opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding contributions NIOSH staff and partners have made to occupational safety and health,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “Developing new knowledge to improve the safety and health of our nation’s workers is at the core of what we do and I am proud to honor the hard work and ingenuity that helps NIOSH achieve its mission.”

Named after Dr. Alice Hamilton, a pioneering researcher and occupational physician, the Alice Hamilton Award is given for exceptional contributions in the areas of biological sciences, engineering and physical sciences, human studies, and educational materials. The submissions go through a rigorous review by panels of scientific experts, including peers from both outside and inside NIOSH.

The work of this year’s award recipients underscores the breadth and significance of occupational safety and health research. To protect U.S. healthcare workers faced with the Ebola epidemic, NIOSH scientists and their CDC colleagues helped implement safety and health controls for infectious disease in the first U.S. hospital to care for a patient with the Ebola virus. Looking to examine the effectiveness of vibration-reducing gloves, NIOSH researchers tested the ability of different commercially-available gloves to reduce vibrations from powered hand tools and found the gloves provide little protection to the worker. NIOSH researchers conducted the first known study to calculate the overall number of years lost by U.S. workers due to work-related hearing impairment and provided an estimate of different levels of hearing impairment by industry. To protect workers exposed to heat and hot environments, NIOSH researchers published a new document with lifesaving, up-to-date information and recommendations for working in heat. NIOSH scientists developed a new tool to measure airborne engineered nanomaterials.

The James P. Keogh Award for Outstanding Service in Occupational Safety and Health recognizes a current or former NIOSH employee 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.”

For 2017, NIOSH honors Diane Porter for her lifetime commitment to promoting worker safety and health. With over more than 30 years in public service, Ms. Porter’s efforts have reached millions of workers and positively impacted countless workplaces and communities. She spent three decades at NIOSH, retiring in 2015 as the Institute’s founding deputy director. Ms. Porter provided leadership and direction during many pivotal times at NIOSH including the implementation of the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), the establishment of the NIOSH Division of Compensation Analysis and Support, the integration of the Bureau of Mines into NIOSH, and moving the NIOSH World Trade Center Health Program from an extramural grant program to a NIOSH-administered program. Not only is she an advocate for worker safety and health, Ms. Porter is a natural mentor who devoted her time and talents to support and guide NIOSH employees leaving a legacy at NIOSH that endures.

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, Interventions, and Technology. This year’s awards honor outstanding projects to increase worker protection in oil and gas extraction, healthcare, and mining. In the Knowledge category, NIOSH researchers were honored for their efforts to evaluate and raise awareness about the hazards to workers who manually gauge or collect fluid samples from storage tanks at oil and gas well sites. In the Interventions category, a training designed to educate nurses and nurse managers on how to reduce the health and safety risks of shift work and long work hours took top honors. A project to design better lighting for in and around roof bolting machines in underground coal mines to improve workers’ ability to see safety hazards received the award in the Technology category.

Finally, the Director’s Intramural Award for Extraordinary Science recognizes outstanding collective contributions to science excellence at NIOSH by individual intramural scientists and support staff. Dr. Charles Geraci, an internationally recognized leader in the nanotechnology field, received the Distinguished Career Scientist award for his contributions in policy, research, and field investigation strategies, and in the application of research to the health and safety approaches needed for the responsible development of emerging nanotechnologies. Dr. Candice Johnson received the Early Career Scientist award for her initiative and strong work ethic. Joining NIOSH less than 5 years ago, Dr. Johnson has initiated research to investigate occupational exposures, reproductive health, women’s health, cardiovascular health, health disparities, and biases in epidemiologic studies in addition to multiple deployments related to the Ebola and Zika viruses. Ms. Vanessa Williams, the team lead for visual communications—with 35 years of government service—received the Scientific Support award for expertly assisting NIOSH staff as they develop and disseminate communication products to help get NIOSH’s research and knowledge into the hands of workers, employers, and other stakeholders.

For more information about the NIOSH Science Awards, including winners and nominees for all categories, or for more information about NIOSH research activities, 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