Jason Shevrin: [email protected], 202-994-5631
Tim Pierce: [email protected], 202-994-5647
WASHINGTON (May 9, 2019)—Government employees in the beginning and middle stages of their federal careers lead research on semiconductors, protecting agriculture with satellites, simplifying government reports, cracking down on coal companies’ water pollution and finding new ways to research swine flu. These efforts were among those earning Arthur S. Flemming Awards this year.
The 70th annual Arthur S. Flemming Awards honor the accomplishments of 12 federal employees (listed in detail below) from agencies across the federal government. The awards will be presented at a June 3 ceremony hosted by the Arthur S. Flemming Commission in partnership with the George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, in cooperation with the National Academy of Public Administration.
Former U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole also will receive a lifetime achievement award for her career of public service across the federal government.
“In spite of the government shutdown coinciding with the period during which solicitation of nominations was underway, almost as many nominations were received as in past years, reflecting the high regard in which the Flemming Award is held and the importance agencies attach to public recognition of their staff members' outstanding achievements,” Peter Williams, president of the Arthur S. Flemming Awards Commission, said. “Of significance this year is the fact that there are as many women as men among the honorees, which speaks to the evolution of greater diversity in the federal government's ranks in recent decades.”
Established by the Downtown Jaycees in 1948, the Flemming Awards honor outstanding federal employees with 3-15 years of federal service for their exceptional contributions to the federal government. Recipients were nominated by their federal agencies and then selected from a pool of nominees through a competitive judging process. Awardees were selected based on their work performance and factors such as leadership, contributions to society and potential for continued excellence.
“It is always inspirational to celebrate the impressive accomplishments of public servants who exemplify the values and work ethic that Arthur Flemming displayed throughout his career,” Kathryn Newcomer, director of the Trachtenberg School, said.
The award is named after quintessential public servant Arthur S. Flemming, who served in government for more than six decades spanning seven administrations and including service as the secretary of health, education and welfare under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Dr. Flemming was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton in 1994 and died two years later.
This year’s award recipients, organized by award category:
Applied Science and Engineering
John Bolten, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA
Dr. Bolten applies satellite remote sensing, land surface modeling and data assimilation to water resources management, agricultural forecasting and flood monitoring. He helped create satellite data-based soil moisture maps that are used by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, as well as the first maps based on data from NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive to be available on Google Earth Engine.
Feng Gao, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Dr. Gao developed original research using remote sensing for crop and vegetation monitoring. He developed multiple high-impact remote sensing algorithms and tools used to study and inform agricultural decisions. Dr. Gao is a leading expert on remote sensing data fusion, which facilitates daily mapping of land-surface conditions at fine scales and is capable of monitoring individual agricultural fields by fusing information from multiple satellites.
R. Joseph Kline, National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce
Dr. Kline advanced the semiconductor industry with his focus on the molecular structure and orientation of organic electronics materials for flexible electronics. These methods provide the insight needed to design organic materials that can be used in high performance, low-cost devices.
John Florian, Navy Experimental Diving Unit, U.S. Navy
Dr. Florian advances scientific research entered on the physical performance of members of the military, including diving physiology, oxygen toxicity, thermoregulation and biometric monitoring. His work led to a new focus on whole-body oxygen toxicity, a condition that adversely affects divers and SEALs.
Khanh Pham, Space Vehicles Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, U.S. Air Force Materiel Command
Dr. Pham is the principal scientific authority and independent researcher in satellite command and control autonomy, assured communications and space situational awareness. He is a pioneer in theory and operations research related to space situational awareness and military communications, which affect military satellite communications. Dr. Pham holds 20 U.S. patents for his work.
Leadership and Management
Deepa Avula, Office of Financial Resources, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Ms. Avula revolutionized the use of data for performance management and changed business practices in the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, leading the effort to consolidate 17 disparate contracts into a single repository for data collection and reporting, in order to monitor $350 million in spending. She partnered with other centers in the administration to assist them in developing and implementing some of the practices and strategies implemented in her own. Ms. Avula managed a $100 million presidential initiative designed to put the choice of provider back into the hands of the client who received services for substance abuse disorders. She received special recognition from the White House Office for Faith-Based Affairs for her work leading this program.
Elizabeth Argeris Lewis, Office of Inspector General, National Science Foundation
Ms. Lewis implemented significant changes to a long-standing, congressionally-mandated report on management challenges. The new format helped clarify management challenges facing the agency, actions taken to address the challenges and remaining steps to be taken, in a visually appealing, concise way. It caught the attention of agency leadership, congressional staffers and other senior leaders, increasing participation in her movement to make her office’s reports understandable, approachable and accessible for the public and other stakeholders. This is just one example of her readers-first mentality and drive that have changed government reports from the traditional, dense, data-filled documents to concise, readable, well-messaged products.
Brittney Soltes, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Ms. Soltes manages a program to inform nonfederal partners of the status and condition of levees and hurricane and shore protection projects to ensure those efforts are still eligible for repair if they are damaged by a storm event. She developed an improved process to significantly shorten the timeframe for obtaining inspection reports from over a year down to just weeks.
Matthew Talcott, Central Circuit Trial Judiciary, U.S. Air Force
Lt. Col. Talcott served as a judge advocate in the Air Force for 13 years. He rose quickly through the ranks and became the top-ranked instructor in the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s School. He also won major appellate victories and developed training for senior Air Force litigators that focuses on sexual assault litigation. It is the Department of Defense’s only course designed to educate experienced advocates on the nuances and challenges faced when prosecuting and defending sexual assault cases.
Laura Thoms, Environmental Enforcement Section, U.S. Department of Justice
Ms. Thoms engineered one of the most successful environmental enforcement campaigns in the history of the federal Clean Water Act against several Appalachian coal producers. She worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the states of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky to redress violations of the Clean Water Act by seven companies representing half of all coal production in Appalachia. Because of her work, companies were required to make $412 million in improvements and pay $55 million in penalties. This effort is expected to reduce water pollution by 150 million pounds.
Social Science, Clinical Trials and Translational Research
Rebecca Dodder, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Dr. Dodder pioneered new ways to examine the environmental and health impacts of energy use, including focusing on biofuels, agriculture and energy markets, hydropower and vehicle emissions standards. She also developed a board game, “Generate,” to help educate people about the environmental effects of energy production. Thousands of students and teachers worldwide have used her game.
Amy Vincent, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Dr. Vincent helped identify new types of the influenza A virus. She also led the establishment of a national swine flu monitoring system in the wake of the 2009 rise of the H1N1 virus, spearheading a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and several services within the USDA. Dr. Vincent’s research revealed new information about the genetic evolution of the influenza A virus. She led establishment of a global naming system for the virus, enabling worldwide interaction between researchers.