2021 Arthur S. Flemming Awards Recognize Exceptional Federal Employees

April 16, 2022

WASHINGTON (April 15, 2022) – Twelve outstanding public servants representing several federal agencies will be honored at the 73rd annual Arthur S. Flemming Awards. The winners are recognized for performing outstanding service in the fields of applied science and engineering, basic science, leadership and management, legal achievement, and social science.

Stellar employees with three to 15 years of federal service are nominated by their federal agencies and selected through a competitive judging process. The awards are presented by the Arthur S. Flemming Commission, in partnership with the George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and the National Academy of Public Administration. The 2019, 2020, and 2021 award winners will be honored at an in-person ceremony in early June.

"Once again, we have identified exceptional federal leaders, and are especially grateful to be able to celebrate with these outstanding Flemming Award winners in-person for the first time in three years,” Kathryn Newcomer, a professor of public policy and public administration at GW, said. “Meeting them and hearing about their incredible accomplishments is truly humbling and inspiring.”

Established in 1948, the award is named after Arthur Sherwood Flemming, a distinguished government official who served seven presidential administrations of both parties, most notably as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Dwight Eisenhower. He was a two-time recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, first from President Eisenhower in 1957 and then from President Bill Clinton in 1994, two years before his death.    

The 2021 Arthur S. Flemming Award recipients are:

Applied Science and Engineering

Dr. Balasubramanian Muralikrishnan – National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce

Dr. Muralikrishnan’s seminal research in precision dimensional metrology is accelerating the adoption of next-generation coordinate scanning. He developed sophisticated mathematical models to help quantify and mitigate sources of error in coordinate measuring systems. His models provide the basis for objective consensus national and international documentary standards, test artifacts, and test methods for the monitoring of structural changes in buildings, bridges, and other critical infrastructure due to settling, aging, deterioration, or earthquake damage. The scanning technologies he standardized are used to assemble and inspect large, manufactured structures; document archeological digs and sites; and capture the details of accidents and crime scenes, including the Champlain Towers collapse site in Surfside, Fla.

Lieutenant Commander Chaolong Qi – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

LCDR Qi’s professional and leadership accomplishments that have led to significant impacts in public health and space research and protecting millions of workers and consumers from hazardous exposures. For example, LCDR Qi is an inventor of two award-winning patented technologies for real-time measurement of aerosol particles. His research on silica exposure controls influenced changes in the national standard and emphasis programt. As an active-duty service member, LCDR Qi brought his engineering and leadership expertise to multiple deployments during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the unaccompanied children and Afghan refugee repatriation missions. His exemplary contributions on social equity include community service in a low-income neighborhood and with organizations that provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and advocate to reduce minority health disparity.

Leadership and Management

Karyn Durbin – National Nuclear Security Administration. U.S. Department of Energy

A true visionary, Durbin successfully restructured and expanded her safeguards engagement program from 30 to 100 partner countries. Her efforts to lead safeguards regulatory capacity-building and diplomatic outreach to persuade countries to enter important safeguards agreements into force, have resulted in tangible gains in nuclear nonproliferation, and by extension U.S. national security. Partly because of her uncanny ability to skillfully navigate complex geopolitical and multicultural environments, dozens of countries have signed or brought into force agreements that give the International Atomic Energy Agency the tools and authorities necessary to verify that their nuclear programs remain exclusively peaceful.

Dr. Karen Howard – U.S. Government Accountability Office

As a director of GAO’s Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics Team, Dr. Howard has brought outstanding leadership and management to the task of helping government officials better understand the complicated and highly technical issues shaping our world today. Dr. Howard developed a process to ensure the agency’s technology assessments provide the best available information in a compelling way. Dr. Howard expertly synthesized this information into concise reporting to provide policymakers with foresight-oriented options for addressing new societal challenges. Her persistence and hard work have contributed to GAO’s growing reputation as a key advisor to Congress on science policy and have built important new partnerships with prestigious scientific organizations. Over the years, Dr. Howard has also effectively educated and mentored women scientists and engineers at GAO and elsewhere.

Ellen Ryan – National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce

Ryan is recognized for her outstanding leadership in developing and delivering public-private partnerships that drove the research and development of critical, life-saving communications capabilities for first responders, and involved a new generation in mission-driven public service. Ryan came to NIST in 2014 to perform technical lab work supporting the Public Safety Communications Research Division (PSCR). Due to her extraordinary curiosity in public-private partnerships and their benefits, Ms. Ryan helped PSCR pioneer and maximize on a novel opportunity to accelerate research and development: NIST's first open innovation program. Her imagination and initiative resulted in an increased research capacity for advanced communications technology research and development, an increased number of researchers working in the field, and over I00 unique prototypes.

Dr. Seh Welch – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Dr. Welch, collaborated, coordinated, supported, and ultimately influenced the CDC COVID Emergency Operations Center structure to include a dedicated unit for supporting tribes in addressing COVID, which has grown into the Tribal Support Section that is now almost 40 experts strong. Her leadership and dedication have contributed to a positive health outcome and increased the trust between the US government and the Tribes. Dr. Welch emanated CDC’s leading role in protecting the public’s health and forged and strengthened partnerships to support the tribes and uphold the USG Constitutional mandate of the special trust responsibility to tribes as well as providing distinction between CDC’s and other agencies' respective roles in the COVID-19 public health efforts.

Basic Science

Dr. Douglas Gladue – Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Dr. Gladue expedited development of the first safe and effective vaccine against African swine fever (ASF) virus. ASF is a highly contagious, lethal viral disease that causes devastating losses and is responsible for the destruction of 50 percent of the swine herd in China alone. While not yet in the United States, an outbreak of ASF could cripple the U.S. pork industry. Dr. Gladue prioritized efforts to speed up development of an ASF vaccine by developing a bioinformatic pipeline to develop a vaccine. Despite requiring all initial work to be performed in a high- containment laboratory, Dr. Gladue was able to create a highly effective and safe vaccine for ASF and transfer this technology to a commercial partner, greatly increasing our odds of ending the ASF pandemic. Dr. Gladue also developed a diagnostic cell line for ASF virus that does not require fresh swine cells. This advancement has revolutionized diagnostics in laboratories worldwide and has greatly enhanced ASF diagnostic capacity and animal wellbeing.

Dr. Evgeny Mishin – Air Force Research Laboratory

Dr. Mishin distinguished himself as a Senior Research Physicist at the Space Vehicles Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Materiel Command, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. He is a national scientific authority and independent researcher in the understanding of natural and artificial space plasma disturbances and high-power electromagnetic waves affecting communications and geolocation, navigation, and timing systems. His military space plasma research provided the science that was foundational to the success of four flight experiments and numerous ground trials that led to the creation of a fifty-million-dollar-a-year program of record and more recently the planned surveillance and communication systems in the Arctic for North American Aerospace Defense Command and the United States Northern Command.

Dr. John Teufel - National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce

Dr. Teufel is a world leader in the field of quantum optomechanics. His innovations over the last decade have tested fundamental physics and will help enable the future of quantum information. Dr. Teufel's work has provided key demonstrations of strong optomechanical coupling between microwave circuits and mechanical resonators, leading to one of the first demonstrations of cooling of a mechanical system to its quantum-mechanical ground state. Recently, Dr. Teufel has experimentally tested the limits of quantum mechanics, showing that macroscopic objects can be highly quantum mechanically coupled ("entangled"). His demonstrated ideas for optomechanical coupling to microwave circuits underpin schemes for "quantum transduction," converting a quantum state between two different technologies, which is essential for the creation of a quantum communications network, a key component of national policy described in the National Quantum Initiative.

Legal Achievement

Lisa Motley – U.S. Government Accountability Office

Managing Associate General Counsel Lisa Motley has demonstrated outstanding leadership in providing superior legal counsel that has improved overall government performance and increased the audit capacity of domestic and international accountability organizations. She directs several teams of attorneys who handle legal matters spanning a wide range of government programs and activities. She has played a key role in drafting legislative reforms to enhance the independence of the Inspectors General, reduce improper payments, and improve financial management across the federal government. She has also led efforts to strengthen oversight of federal COVID-19 relief funding. Moreover, Ms. Motley has been instrumental in expanding GAO’s Center for Audit Excellence and advising on an array of governance issues that supported improvements in financial reporting.

Social Science, Clinical Trials, and Translational Research

Dr. Thomas Osborne – National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Dr. Osborne is the Director of the National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation (NCCHI) and Chief Medical Informatics Officer (CMIO) at VA Palo Alto Health Care System. In this role, he has transformed how cloud computing and augmented reality are used in one of the largest healthcare systems in the country. His impact ranges from leadership in the Innovation and Modernization Committee, bringing leaders across VA to remove barriers to discovery and creating 40 unique solutions within VA, to spearheading changes in augmented reality, holographic medical imaging, and 5G healthcare integration. These impacts have led to the advancement of mission-driven health care innovation, cutting-edge healthcare technologies and services, and the transformation of the democratization of healthcare in and outside the veteran community.

Dr. Kandice Tanner – National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Dr. Tanner is an internationally recognized leader in the emerging field of cancer biophysics. Her work specifically focuses on one aspect of cancer of great clinical importance; namely why different types of cancer spread to distinct groups of organs. Dr. Tanner made a breakthrough discovery when she found that patterns of cancer spreading in humans can be recapitulated in zebrafish. She harnessed her training in biophysics to gain insight from a perspective of basis science in that the biophysical properties of the blood vessels that these cancer cells encountered during spread directly influenced the cells’ ability to show preferential colonization in the brain vs. the bone marrow niche in the zebrafish. These discoveries in turn amplify use of this novel animal model to address organ-specific drug responses and effective immunotherapies in a preclinical platform.