NIOSH Presents 2019 Science Awards

"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," NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard, M.D., said.

NIOSH announced April 26 that it has awarded several NIOSH researchers and partners for their significant contributions to the field of occupational safety and health in 2018. The awards included the Alice Hamilton Award, for scientific excellence of technical and instructional materials by NIOSH scientists and engineers; 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; the Director's Intramural Award for Extraordinary Science for outstanding contributions by intramural scientists and support staff to scientific excellence at NIOSH; the Plain Language Award, for NIOSH communication products that exemplify the content and design principles of the Plain Writing Act of 2010; and the 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," NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard, M.D., said.

The Keogh Award, which 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 honors Dr. Leslie Nickels. Over her nearly 40-year career, she was a tireless advocate of improving the safety and health of underserved workers. She began her career conducting workplace inspection and enforcement in Illinois, later managing the WHO Global Network of Collaborating Centers in Occupational Health's work on education, training, and technical materials. Upon joining NIOSH in 2010, 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.

Many of the Alice Hamilton Awards this year highlight NIOSH research that contributed to new knowledge in nanotechnology. 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 needed to support regulations to require life rafts and immersion suits on board, and the unique hazards firefighters face and techniques needed when attacking fires originating in basements and below-ground rooms.

The Bullard-Sherwood Research-to-Practice Award is named for the inventor of the hard hat, Edward W. Bullard, and the inventor of the personal industrial hygiene sampling pump, R. Jeremy Sherwood. It 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 OSH information is complete, up to date, and free of errors. In the Intervention category, the winning entry is a series of short videos of interviews with fishermen promoting adoption of the safe industry practices and interventions that saved their lives. The award-winning technology is a field-based exposure monitoring approach, now adopted by several mining companies, that can generate respirable crystalline silica exposure data on site at the end of a worker's shift.

The 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.

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

  • Christine Whittaker, Ph.D., a toxicologist and risk assessor. She 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, She has looked extensively at developing occupational safety and health training curricula for middle and high schools.
  • 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.

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