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NIOSH Presents 2016 Awards for Significant Scientific Contributions

April 28, 2016
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Christina Spring (202) 245-0633

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 over the past year. This year’s awards ceremony also coincides with Workers’ Memorial Day.

The annual awards are an opportunity for NIOSH 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 Award for Extraordinary Intramural Science.

“Each year we have an opportunity to reflect on the significant contributions made by NIOSH staff and our partners in improving the safety and health of our nation’s workers,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “This year we have the added significance of celebrating their dedication and ingenuity on Workers’ Memorial Day, when we honor those who have died on the job and recommit ourselves to protecting workers.”

Named after Dr. Alice Hamilton, a pioneering researcher and occupational physician, the Alice Hamilton Award is given for outstanding 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 awardees have contributed to an array of sectors, highlighting the broad range of occupational safety and health. Among other accomplishments, research and outreach by this year’s awardees helped improve safety for workers in mining, long-haul truck driving, carbon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers manufacturing and use, and welding. To improve safety for miners, NIOSH scientists developed instructional software for the critical benching process of inspecting, assembling, and testing a Draeger BG 4 breathing apparatus and formulated best practices for using the material known as shotcrete to support underground mines. As a first step toward increasing safety for truck drivers and others on the road, the NIOSH National Survey of Long-haul Truck Drivers collected and analyzed critical data about drivers’ safety attitudes and behavior. To protect workers who handle carbon nanotubes and nanofibers, NIOSH scientists visited worksites to measure adherence to the NIOSH recommended exposure limit. Finally, to improve safety among the country’s welders, NIOSH scientists studied the influence of voltage on the composition of fumes and toxicity.

The James P. Keogh Award for Outstanding Service in Occupational Safety and Health 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.” For 2016, NIOSH honors Dr. Thomas R. Waters for his pivotal research on work-related musculoskeletal disorders. During his distinguished 24-year career at NIOSH, Dr. Waters worked tirelessly to help protect underserved workers in manufacturing, retail, warehousing, and healthcare. In one of his major scientific contributions, Dr. Waters’ research on the biomechanical demands of manual material handling led to the internationally used Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation. Today, health and safety professionals in industries worldwide use the equation as the basis for lifting standards. His passing in 2014 resulted in a groundswell of recognition of his accomplishments across the ergonomics community. In May 2015, his colleagues created the Thomas R. Waters Memorial Scholarship for Ergonomics Research through the CDC Foundation to be awarded annually to a deserving student in the field of occupational ergonomics.

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 construction; healthcare and social assistance; and agriculture, forestry, and fishing. In the knowledge category, the National Construction Falls Prevention Campaign and Safety Stand-down took top honors as the first national, multilingual social marketing campaign to address the issues of falls among small residential construction contractors. In the interventions category, a project entitled Partnering with Industry to Build Safe EMS Work Environments received the award for efforts that led to improved crashworthiness of patient compartment components in ambulances. Finally, the project entitled Epidemiology and Engineering Safety for the Fishing Industry received the technology award for work that led to the development of an innovative personal flotation device.

The Director’s Award for Extraordinary Intramural Science recognizes outstanding collective contributions to science excellence at NIOSH by individual intramural scientists and support staff. Dr. Gayle DeBord, a recognized leader in her field of research pharmacology, received the Distinguished Career Scientist award for her groundbreaking work managing the Exposure Assessment Program. Under Dr. DeBord’s leadership, an entirely new area—direct reading and sensor technology—developed and flourished. In addition, Dr. DeBord led a NIOSH effort to consider research on the occupational exposome, which is the term used to describe life-long exposure to all potentially harmful agents. Dr. Alysha Meyers received the Early Career Scientist award for her outstanding scientific contributions to the epidemiology of musculoskeletal disorders; ergonomics, Total Worker Health™, and the use of workers’ compensation data for public health purposes. Barbara Cromer, a leading program operations assistant with 34 years of government service, received the Scientific Support award for providing critical administrative support and guidance for scientists in the NIOSH Education and Information Division.

For more information about the NIOSH Science Awards, including winners and nominees for all categories, go to

For more information about NIOSH research activities, go to

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. For more information about NIOSH visit