Employees of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense were well represented at the 50th Annual Excellence in Federal Career Awards luncheon held May 5. MRICD employees were recognized with one gold, six silver, and seven bronze awards.
MRICD’s gold awardee was Dr. Ernest H. Braue, Jr., in the category Distinguished Public Service Career. Braue, who retired from federal service in 2016 after 30 years, was known throughout the medical chemical defense research community for his study of the effects of chemical warfare agents when absorbed through the skin—also known as cutaneous exposure—and his advances in the evaluation and development of protectants and decontaminants.
To more precisely research the injury caused by cutaneous exposure of toxic chemicals and to better evaluate treatment and healing outcomes, he established an innovative bioengineering laboratory that maximized the use of non-invasive analytical tools. He authored 30 peer-reviewed open literature publications, 52 government publications, and six book chapters, and was an inventor on 13 United States patents.
Silver awards were presented to Capt. Liana Matson for Outstanding Supervisor, GS-12 and below; Denise Hott for Outstanding Supervisor, Trades and Crafts; Michelle French for Outstanding Trades and Crafts (Non-Supervisory); Spec. Jeffrey Augustin for EEO, Diversity and Inclusion; Larry Presley for Volunteer Service, Individual Award; and Spec. Shasta Gutierrez and Spec. Kyle Reitnauer for Volunteer Service, Group or Team Award.
Matson was nominated for her exceptional performance as chief of MRICD’s Physiology & Immunology Branch. According to her nomination, she excelled at “providing administrative oversight, resource management, and personnel supervision to the entire branch” while “making [her] own significant scientific contributions to the institute’s mission.”
Before retiring in early 2017, Hott served as chief of MRICD’s Facilities Management Office, where she oversaw the maintenance and operation of up to 19 facilities while the institute transitioned to its replacement facility. She also expertly managed the office’s responsibilities during this transition period by coordinating personnel moves to the new building and efficiently preparing the vacated facilities for turn-in to APG.
French, an animal caretaker in MRICD’s Research Support Division, was selected for her dedication to and expert execution of her duties, her mentorship of coworkers, and her initiatives toward self-development. French’s “devotion” to the research animals in her care was described as “unsurpassed.”
Augustin is fully committed to supporting the Army’s Equal Opportunity Program by promoting awareness of EO/EEO issues through training and discussions with the workforce. He volunteered personal time to his involvement in planning the institute’s five EO/EEO observance events. Additionally, he took the initiative to bring to the MRICD a guest speaker to increase employee awareness of transgender issues and of issues concerning the LGBT community in general.
Presley’s silver recognition was especially moving for MRICD’s staff, coming as it did just weeks after his unexpected death. In his nomination, Presley was described as “[epitomizing] the spirit of volunteerism.” His volunteer efforts within his community were extensive. He contributed his time to an outreach program called Project Connect, as well as to visiting and comforting hospice patients and veterans, and to assisting the Fairview Missionary Full Gospel Baptist Church in York, Penn., with its annual food and clothing give away. Additionally, an ordained minister, Presley taught Sunday school and served on his church’s executive council.
Guitierrez and Reitnauer volunteered as coaches for the Aberdeen recreation center’s youth baseball program. These coaches put in extra effort to learn the game, motivate their players, and create a comfortable learning environment for them that promoted development of individual skills and a strong team spirit. Guitierrez and Reitnauer extended their volunteer efforts to participating in Soldiers Holiday Tree Donations, MRICD’s Community Outreach Program, the Memory Run for our Fallen Heroes, and MRICD’s Family Readiness Group and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Committee.
Bronze awards were presented to Yvonne Hedgmon-Cossey, chief of the Human Resources office, for Outstanding Supervisor, GS-13 and above; Carter Bender, a facilities engineer, for Outstanding Professional (Non-Supervisory) Technical, Scientific and Program Support; Stephanie Froberg, an executive services specialist, for Outstanding Professional (Non-Supervisory) Administrative, Management & Specialist; Samora Morris, a management and program analyst in the Human Resources Office, for Outstanding Para-Professional (Non-Supervisory) Administrative/Management Analyst, GS-8 and above; Taylor Ebner, a management assistant (office automation) in the Human Resources Office, for Outstanding Administrative Assistant/Management Assistant, Individual; former MRICD chemist Kathleen Housman for Outstanding Para-Professional (Non-Supervisory) Technical, Scientific and Program Support; and the Adsorption, Distribution, Metabolism, and Excretion Team for Outstanding Para-Professional (Non-Supervisory) Technical, Scientific and Program Support, Team. The ADME team consists of Dr. Kelly Basi, Sarah Beach, Betty Benton, Dr. Benedict Capacio, Dr. Robert diTargiani, Capt. Jeffrey Havens, Dr. Michael Hepperle, Dr. Heidi Hoard-Fruchey, Samantha Litvin, Capt. Sabrina McGraw, Eric Nealley, Mary Theresa Nipwoda, Dr. Tamara Otto, Amber Packer, Dr. M. Ross Pennington, Amy Rizkallah, Dr Albert Ruff, John R. Smith (now retired), and Dr. Ryan Vierling.