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Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

December 2023

NIEHS stars honored at annual awards ceremony

Outstanding contributions across the institute to advance science, improve workplace were recognized during annual awards ceremony.

NIEHS employees, trainees, and contractors filled Rodbell Auditorium Nov. 15 for a hybrid awards ceremony honoring their outstanding contributions. Fourteen individuals and 22 groups received the coveted merit awards — the highest award an institute director can bestow. In addition, eight people received peer awards, and 40 others were recognized for their years of service.

“Our common goal at NIEHS is hope for patients, because our research can help all people live safer and healthier lives,” said NIEHS and National Toxicology Director Rick Woychik, Ph.D. “I want to personally congratulate all of the awardees and thank all of you for the contributions that you’re making to allow us to continue to achieve the goals that we had over this past year. Please keep up the good work and let’s keep the hope going strong.”

Rick Woychik, Ph.D.
As he kicked off the annual awards ceremony, Woychik celebrated the successes of the past year and noted the importance of rallying around the common goal of hope. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)

New this year

The new merit award medallions feature the NIEHS logo on the front with the specific award citation engraved on the back.
The new merit award medallions feature the NIEHS logo on the front with the specific award citation engraved on the back. (Image courtesy of Ed Kang)

Awardees will receive medallions to celebrate their accomplishments. The idea to present awardees with a physical reminder of the impact of their work sprung from a 2019 NIEHS Leadership Development Program group.

Another first: the addition of individual merit award categories that recognize emerging leaders, customer service, and mentoring.

“The goal is to highlight the breadth of work we do beyond the science by emphasizing the importance of customer service in advancing our mission, and celebrating some of our emerging leaders and the importance of mentoring to develop our workforce,” said David Balshaw, Ph.D., who directs the Division of Extramural Research and Training (DERT).

Ashley Vargas, Ph.D., and David Balshaw, Ph.D.
Balshaw along with Ashley Vargas, Ph.D., the new deputy director for DERT, emceed this year’s awards ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)

Read more about the awardees who were honored in each of the categories listed below.

NIEHS Individual Merit Awards

Fourteen individuals were honored for their work on the following projects.

Donna Baird, for pioneering research on uterine fibroid onset and growth supporting the development of prevention and treatment strategies.

Jackson Hoffman, for exemplary scientific leadership, mentoring of trainees, and contributions to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) initiatives.

Alan Jarmusch, for advancing critical scientific capability through the development of a unique core facility promising to make intramural metabolomics a leader in the field.

Christine Johnson, for increased efficiency and improved study completion in Environmental Autoimmunity Group Studies.

Anne Marie Jukic, for exceptional mentoring, which builds trust and a learning environment for all staff.

Nicole Kleinstreuer, for exemplary leadership, exceptional mentorship, and guidance to mentees.

Denise Lasko, for outstanding logistical planning of two trans-NIEHS Environmental Health Disparities and Environmental Justice faculty-sponsored workshops.

Kaitlyn Lawrence, for outstanding leadership in bringing geospatial and climate change research to the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch.

Robin Mackar, for unsurpassed dedication and success as senior science writer and media relations manager for NIEHS.

Trevor Archer, Ph.D., Robin Mackar and Rick Woychik, Ph.D.
Deputy Director Trevor Archer, Ph.D., left, and Woychik, right, presented Robin Mackar, Office of Communications and Public Liaison, center, an individual merit award. Mackar also was recognized in the NIEHS and NIH group merit awards categories. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)

Kamel Mansouri, for outstanding collaboration and leadership in the field of computational chemistry in support of translational toxicology and open science.

Alison Motsinger-Reif, for expanding and modernizing biostatistical and computational sciences infrastructure.

Hideki Nakano, for leadership, collaboration, and mentoring within the Immunity, Inflammation, and Disease Laboratory, NIEHS, and beyond.

Vickie Walker, for significant contributions to multiple projects in which she has demonstrated exemplary promise as a future leader.

Alexandra White, for innovative research of public health importance on breast and reproductive cancers risk related to the use of chemical hair products.

NIEHS Group Merit Awards

The 22 groups listed below received merit awards this year.

Acquisitions Strategy Group, for exemplary leadership and coordination of an agency Acquisition Strategy — Melissa Gentry, Michelle Hooth, Georgia Roberts, Bernie Salter, Matthew Stout.

Action Team Group, for excellence in leading NIEHS in meeting the requirements of the 2023 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Data Management and Sharing policy — Milene Brownlow, Adam Burkholder, Chris Duncan, Jennifer Fostel, Nidhi Geri, Michelle Heacock, Stephanie Holmgren, Maria Shatz.

Clustering Classification Group, for outstanding effort in advancing methods for identifying and applying approaches to infer hazards across substance classes — Scott Auerbach, Stephen Ferguson, Rachel Frawley, Jui-Hua Hsieh, Gloria Jahnke, Nicole Kleinstreuer, Kamel Mansouri, Suril Mehta, Fred Parham, Cynthia Rider, Andrew Rooney, Vicki Sutherland, Kyla Taylor, Amy Wang.

Complex Mixtures in Breast Cancer Workshop Group (Cross-NIH), for leadership in research on the role of environmental exposure mixtures in breast cancer — Abee Boyles, Danielle Carlin, Curt Dellavalle, Gary Ellison, Suzanne Fenton, Tram Lam, Cynthia Rider, Brittany Trottier, Alexandra White.

COVID-19 Worker Training Program Group, for exemplary work in developing the Worker Training Program (WTP) COVID-19 Preparedness, Response, and Training Program — Kathy Ahlmark, Sharon Beard, Lisa Edwards, Kenda Freeman, Jenny Greer, Chip Hughes, Joy Lee, Katherine McGinnis, Amber Mitchell, Eric Persuad, James Remington, Jonathan Rosen, Kerry Voelker, Deborah Weinstock, James Williams, Demia Wright.

DEIA Program Support Group, for managing administrative and programmatic tasks to support DEIA improvement efforts at NIEHS — Allison Eason, Charletta Fowler, Mary Jacobson, Beth Perry, Ericka Reid, Cyrena Silvera.

DERT DEIA Change Agents Group, for outstanding leadership in formulating a DEIA Action Plan for the DERT Leadership Committee — Sharon Beard, Laurie Johnson, Janis Mullaney, Nicole Popovich, Angela Sanders.

Division of Translational Toxicology (DTT) Contracting Officer’s Representatives (COR) Group, for exemplary management of the Research and Development contract portfolio — Danica Andrews, Mark Cesta, Brad Collins, Helen Cunny, Julie Foley, Jennifer Fostel, Dori Germolec, Veronica Godfrey, Ron Herbert, Michelle Hooth, Shawn Jeter, Angela King Herbert, Beth Lubeck, Alex Merrick, Georgia Roberts, Kelly Shipkowski, Keith Shockley, Stephanie Smith-Roe, Jason Stanko, Matthew Stout, Suramya Waidyanatha, Pei Li Yao.

For exemplary management of the DTT Research and Development contract portfolio, members of the COR Group were honored. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)
For exemplary management of the DTT Research and Development contract portfolio, members of the COR Group were honored. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)

DTT Office of Workforce Development and Operations Group, for exemplary customer service by the Workforce Operations Team, working collaboratively and proactively to support DTT — Tracy Briscoe, Robbin Guy, Debbie Higgins, Virginia Matthews, Anna Lee Mosley, Sara Page, Tracie Pearsall, Amanda Russell, Patty Spining, Penelope Williams, Lisa Wolf.

DTT Report Series Group, for outstanding collaboration in establishing a new report series for DTT — David Burch, Jennifer Fostel, Tara Hamilton, Shawn Jeter, Kevin O'Donovan, Georgia Roberts, Kelly Shipkowski, Jon Strouse, Cheryl Thompson, Jessica Wignall, Mary Wolfe.

Electronic Notebook Working Group, for comprehensive evaluation of electronic laboratory notebooks to align NIEHS and NIH scientific, data management, and compliance goals — Georgia Alexander, Matthew Burr, Jennifer Fostel, John Grovenstein, Toni Harris, Guang Hu, Heather Jensen, Matt Jordan, Paula Juras, David Kurtz, Huei Chen Lee, Leping Li, Julie Meacham, Geoffrey Mueller, Rob Neiberger, Joseph Rodriguez, Elizabeth Ruben, Charles Schmitt, Maria Shatz, Skand Skekhar, Erik Tokar, Penelope Williams, Humphrey Yao.

Emergency Management Tabletop Group, for recognition of the planning team for five major emergency management table-top exercises executed in 2022, helping NIEHS be better prepared for emergency situations — Gordon Caviness, Dondrae Coble, Debra Del Corral, Joseph Engels, Debbie Gaffney, Lee Howell, Paul Johnson, Julie Nixon, Chris Roose, Carranza Smith, Bill Steinmetz, Greg Westmoreland.

Gene Editing Mouse Models Core Group, for exceptional effort in incorporating novel technologies and expanding services to NIEHS investigators — Artion Gruzdev, Thomas Hagler, Manas Ray, Greg Scott.

Genetic Toxicity of Glyphosate Formulations Group, for excellence in the conduct, reporting and communications for the Toxicity of Glyphosate Formulations project — Xiaoqing Chang, Brad Collins, Jennifer Fostel, Shawn Harris, Shawn Jeter, Gary Larson, Robin Mackar, Keith Shockley, Stephanie Smith-Roe, Jason Stanko, Carol Swartz, Kristine Witt, Pei Li Yao.

Hoteling Initiative Group, for implementing hoteling at NIEHS to support remote workers when they returned to the site to work — Rhonda Carroll, Debra Del Corral, Bryan Duran, Allison Eason, Joseph Engels, Edward Kang, Katherine McGinnis, Steve Novak, Alexander Santago, Michael Spencer, Amanda Thompson, Lisa Wolf.

An in-person audience, together with those who joined virtually, honored the contributions of their colleagues during the past year. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)
An in-person audience, together with those who joined virtually, honored the contributions of their colleagues during the past year. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)

Mass Spectrometry Research and Support Group, for leadership in advancing new mass spectrometric analyses — Andrea Adams, Leesa Deterding, Katina Johnson, Jeffrey Kuhn, Olivier Lardinois, Fred Lih, Jason Williams.

ORBIT Development Group, for leadership in building the Organizational Resource and Business Information Tool (ORBIT) to improve management, planning, communication, and collaboration in DTT — Danica Andrews, Pamela Bayles, Brad Collins, Jennifer Fostel, Mike Mason, Dan Rich, Georgia Roberts, Elizabeth Ruben, Luis Salas.

PFAS Health Effects and Remediation Group, for excellence in leading an interagency committee that reported the Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Report to Congress — Brian Berridge, Suzanne Fenton, Heather Henry, Scott Masten.

REEP Initiative Group, for extraordinary initiative in creating the initial NIEHS Racial and Ethnic Equity Plan (REEP) — Trevor Archer, Linda Bass, Allison Eason, Veronica Godfrey, La Vern James, Mark Miller, Joan Packenham, Beth Perry, Nicole Popovich, Ericka Reid, Carranza Smith, Steven Tuyishime.

Scientific Review Branch, for exemplary dedication in the conduct of scientific peer review for the NIEHS and the NIH — Linda Bass, Lorna Daniel, Beverly Duncan, Deborah Jones, Qingdi Li, Kindra Morrison, Sharmice Outen, Varsha Shukla, Leroy Worth.

Sodium Thiosulfate in Calcinosis (STIC) Group, for outstanding care of patients and protocol execution for the Intravenous Sodium Thiosulfate Trial — Rachel Adam, Julia Agafanova, Cynthia Arizona, Stephanie Burrison, Rachel Gafni, Olivia Jordan, Thomas Reed, Adam Schiffenbauer, Beverly Sellers Robinson, Rita Volochayev, Leslie Wehrlen.

Wireless Improvement Project Group, for executing the Wireless Access Point upgrade project to improve the network at NIEHS — Kelvin Heggins, Reynaldo Heyliger, Alison Karver.

NIEHS Peer Awards

“I’m especially fascinated by the peer awards,” said Vargas during the ceremony. “NIEHS is the only institute, center, or office that makes these awards.”

The following eight recipients were nominated by their peers and received a $600 cash award.

Jennifer Baker, for improvement of multiple administrative processes within DERT.

Deborah Jones, for thoughtful support of staff within the Scientific Review Branch and beyond.

Justin Kosak, for his infectious positivity in providing guidance and support to fellow co-workers.

Janet Hall, M.D., left, Justin Kosak, center, and Rick Woychik, Ph.D., right
Clinical Director and Senior Investigator Janet Hall, M.D., left, and Woychik, right, presented biologist Justin Kosak, Division of Intramural Research, center, with a peer award. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)

Virginia Matthews, for outstanding travel support to DTT.

Ginger Muse, for exemplary research, collaboration, and coordination within the Epigenetics and Stem Cell Biology Laboratory and the Chromatin and Gene Expression Group.

Cynthia Rider, for exemplary performance in balancing her role as a national leader in toxicology with her efforts within DTT to move science forward through mentoring, team-building, and interdisciplinary collaborations.

Veronica Robinson, for exemplary volunteer service within NIEHS and beyond.

Gitanjali Taneja, for teamwork as a COR for the Support Services Contract, providing clear guidance on complex situations.

Years of Service Awards

The 40 NIEHS employees listed below were recognized for their years of dedicated service.

  • 10 Years: Diana Burks-Robinson, Cathy Davis, Stephen Ferguson, Artiom Gruzdev, Michelle Heacock, Amanda Matthews, Amanda Russell, Stephanie Smith-Roe, Lakeisha Wade, Hui Shan “Amy” Wang.
  • 20 Years: Floyd Adsit, Sukhdev Brar, Michelle Campbell, Lysandra Castro, Henry Daniels, Laura Miller Degraff, Christopher Fisher, Reynaldo Heyliger, Debra Higgins, Katina Johnson, Huiling Li, Shyamal Peddada, Robert Petrovich, Nicole Reeves, Christian Roose, Erica Scappini, Beverly Sellers Robinson, Michael Spencer, Marva Wood, Vivian Young.
  • 30 Years: Elizabeth Padilla Banks, Aisha Ford, Bill Jirles, Nathalie Kean, Elizabeth McMillan, Tonya McMillan, Kathy Mesner, Jerrel Yakel.
  • 40 Years: Clarice Weinberg.
  • 50 Years: Carol Shreffler.

Together, these employees have dedicated more than 860 years to service.

NIEHSers gathered for refreshments following the Nov. 15 awards ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)
NIEHSers gathered for refreshments following the Nov. 15 awards ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)

(Caroline Stetler is Editor-in-Chief of the Environmental Factor, produced monthly by the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)

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