The Partnership for Public Service announced 27 finalists for its 2018 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, or “Sammies” awards, which honor public servants that go above and beyond to get results in government work.

The awards honor employees in six categories: homeland security and law enforcement, science and the environment, national security and international affairs, management excellence, promising innovations, and career achievement.

Finalists in all categories will be eligible for the Federal Employee of the Year, which has in the past gone to employees from a variety of agencies, including the TSA, Centers for Disease Control and NASA.

Finalists are also eligible for the People’s Choice Sammies Award, voting for which begins May 11, 2018.

Here are the 27 finalists, organized by category, and the Partnership’s reasons for their selection:

Homeland security and law enforcement

  • Blake Douglas Rowe, director of the Forensic Exploitation Directorate at the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command – established forensic exploitation laboratories to investigate terrorist activities, contributing to thousands of convictions and thwarting attempted terrorist attacks.
  • Jeffrey Elliott Wood Jr., supervisory special agent at the FBI, and the North Shore Gang Task Force   led a takedown of the MS-13 gang that included more than 60 leaders and members in the Boston region. 
  • Karen D. Dodge, staff attorney at the Federal Trade Commission, Margaret Moeser, senior trial attorney at the Department of Justice, and teams   restored financial losses of nearly $600 million for hundreds of thousands of people who were defrauded by money transfer scams.
  • Mark L. Bathrick, director of the Office of Aviation Services at the Department of Interior, and team   built the largest civilian aerial drone fleet to help federal agencies fight forest fires, inspect infrastructure, monitor wildlife and natural resources, halt pollution and conduct search and rescue operations.
  • Stephen C. Curren, director of the Division of Resilience at the Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and the Cyber Incident Response Team   defended health care computer systems in the U.S. from the global WannaCry cyberattack.

Science and the environment

  • Margaret Honein, director of the Division of Congenital Development Disorders at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   collected and analyzed critical data to help protect women and babies from the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
  • Tim Schmit, satellite research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration   developed cutting-edge satellite technology for detecting and monitoring severe weather.
  • Barbara G. Kutchko, senior research scientist at the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory   helped rewrite standards for the use of foamed cement in oil wells, to prevent blowouts and damaging oil spills.
  • Daniel L. Kastner, scientific director of the Division of Intramural Research at the National Institutes of Health   identified an entire new class of rare genetic diseases and treatments.
  • Soheila J. Maleki, lead scientist in food allergy research at the Agricultural Research Service – led life-changing research on the causes, detection, prevention and potential remedies for peanut and tree nut allergies

National security and international affairs

  • Hoa Thi Tran, Asia team lead for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration at the Department of State, and team – delivered emergency humanitarian relief to nearly 700,000 Rohingya refugees who fled violent persecution in Burma to Bangladesh.
  • Matthew Nims, acting director of the Office of Food for Peace at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and team – distributed $1.4 billion in emergency food assistance to 20 million people in four nations fighting famine and threatened by violent conflicts.
  • Andrew M. Herscowitz, coordinator for Power Africa at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Power Africa team – provided electricity to some 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, while creating hundreds of millions of dollars in export opportunities for U.S. companies.
  • Dave Huizenga, principal assistant deputy administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at the Department of Energy – managed numerous high-profile projects with foreign governments to secure large quantities of weapons-useable nuclear materials and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

Management excellence

  • Andy Neal, branch chief, of Actuarial and Catastrophic Modeling at the Federal Emergency Management Agency – persuaded private reinsurers for the first time to assume some flood damage liability, saving the National Flood Insurance Program $1 billion in claims in 2017.
  • Marcella Jacobs, executive director of the Veterans Affairs Digital Service, and the VA Digital Service team – created online digital tools for veterans to more easily access benefits and services.
  • Guy Demeter, data scientist at the FBI – developed wide-ranging data management systems that enable FBI analysts to investigate criminal activity and identify threats more quickly.
  • Ariel Gold, data program manager at the Department of Transportation’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office – improved data-sharing to accelerate the adoption of new technologies that increase transportation safety and efficiency, including self-driving cars and vehicles.

Promising innovations

  • Jordan T. Manos, director of operations at the VA Acquisition Academy – improved the system used to assess flood damage from hurricanes and other major storms.
  • Alison Smith, chief engineer for Materials Analysis of Electronic Component Technologies at the Naval Surface Warfare Center – pioneered the use of nanoparticles to mark sensitive military equipment with a unique fingerprint.
  • Barney S. Graham, deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center at NIH, and Theodore C. Pierson, chief of the Laboratory of Viral Diseases at NIH – developed a vaccine now in clinical testing to prevent the Zika virus.
  • Parimal Kopardekar, senior technologist for Air Transportation Systems at NASA, and team – designed a traffic management system for unmanned aerial vehicles.

Career achievement

  • Judith Lynn Allaire DesHarnais, deputy district engineer and chief of programs and project management for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – directed major flood-protection projects that have saved lives and prevented more than a billion dollars in property damage.
  • Gerald Ankley, research toxicologist at the Environmental Protection Agency – for three decades, established techniques and standards to identify dangerous chemicals and prevent them from contaminating America’s lakes and waterways.
  • John J. Sammarco, principal research engineer at the Pittsburgh Mining Research Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health – led research over three decades that improved lighting in mines, advanced rescue techniques and reduced accidents and injuries.
  • Allen R. Hefner Jr., power electronics project leader at the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Physical Measurement Laboratory – developed the “Hefner model” for power semiconductor devices that revolutionized manufacturing of power conversion systems that millions of people use today.
  • Marsalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, associate director for children with special health care needs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – pioneered research to understand the prevalence of autism and other developmental disabilities, influencing the expansion of health, social and educational services for children with special needs.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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