Awardees are making farming more resilient in the face of climate change, reimagining the way the justice system responds to addiction, laying the groundwork for quantum computing and more.
Twelve exceptional public servants representing a diverse array of federal agencies were honored at the 72nd annual Arthur S. Flemming Awards Thursday evening. 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.
For more than 70 years, the Flemming Awards have celebrated stellar employees with three to 15 years of federal government service. Award recipients 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.
“I am so grateful for such wonderful public sector leaders who have made incredible contributions during a time when our country has been deeply affected by COVID-19,” said Kathryn Newcomer, professor of public policy and public administration at GW. “Despite the economic and human toll taken by the pandemic, these exceptional public servants have continued to work on behalf of the common good.”
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 2020 Arthur S. Flemming Award recipients are:
Applied Science and Engineering
- Steven Mirsky – Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Dr. Mirsky pioneered the merger of precision and sustainable agriculture to make farming more productive, adaptive and resilient in the face of climate change, declining soil and water quality, and pest resistance. He broke down existing data silos to elucidate how climate, soil, management, genetic and social factors interact, and provided site-specific solutions to growers. Dr. Mirsky is accelerating and merging precision and sustainability solutions by assembling highly coordinated transdisciplinary research, extension and education teams; commodity boards; and farmers with strong public/private partnerships.
- John E. Schiel – National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), U.S. Department of Commerce
Dr. Schiel played a leading role in the development of a program for protein therapeutic measurements and standards that works closely with the biopharmaceutical industry, regulators and instrumentation companies. He led a team of NIST scientists in developing a world-first monoclonal antibody reference material, NISTmAb, a global benchmark that ensures the performance of biopharmaceutical drug product release tests and new analytical tools and supports the development of manufacturing technologies.
- Stephanie Schollaert Uz – Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA
Dr. Schollaert Uz serves as the applied sciences manager within the Earth Sciences Division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. She is internationally recognized for advancing the application of satellite remote sensing through the novel integration of data and models to improve monitoring of water quality. She recently formed a coalition of stakeholders from government agencies, academia and the private sector to solve challenges around remotely detecting waterborne pollutants and pathogens. She also is principal investigator for an interdisciplinary project to apply machine learning for water quality variables needed by Chesapeake Bay shellfish managers.
Leadership and Management
- Victor Aledo – Media and Publication, Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Mr. Aledo’s exceptional leadership has transformed the way over 200 million taxpayers interact with the U.S. tax system, ensuring meaningful access to critical governmental programs by underserved populations. As acting director of the Tax Forms and Publications Division, he oversees the development of tax forms, the administration of IRS language assistance programs and the burden reduction process for all IRS information collection. In 2020, Mr. Aledo led an effort to overhaul the way the IRS corresponds with taxpayers with limited English proficiency or disability, collaborating with offices throughout the IRS to dramatically expand the type and number of taxpayers that can be served.
- Brian Mazanec – U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)
Dr. Mazanec has demonstrated outstanding leadership, innovation and excellence in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the national security enterprise, particularly the intelligence community, thereby better preparing Congress and agencies to address critical emerging threats and challenges. In addition to serving as a director responsible for GAO’s strategic warfare and intelligence portfolio, he has sought to educate and mentor a diverse and capable next generation of national security leaders. He also has led numerous efforts to position GAO to conduct an increasing amount of classified work and protect sensitive and classified information.
- Igor Linkov – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Dr. Linkov’s research vision and methodology in risk, resilience and decision science have generated tools and practices in use by the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Health and Human Services and many other agencies. Though the COVID-19 crisis was outside of the Corps of Engineers’ normal domain, Dr. Linkov’s scientific tools have been used by several agencies, including FEMA/HHS Region 1 and the White House Coronavirus Task Force, to address COVID-19 challenges. He has published 26 books and over 400 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters.
- Nidhi Singh Shah – Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Since joining the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in 2012, Ms. Shah has helped transform the lives of over 12 million Americans. She has enacted quality-based programs for the Marketplace and Health Insurance Exchanges through the policy development for quality initiatives established by the Affordable Care Act, including the quality rating system, quality improvement strategy and consumer experience surveys, which provided national patient safety standards for health plan issuers.
- Keir C. Neuman – National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Dr. Neuman is acknowledged for the development of innovative technology enabling pioneering studies of the structural dynamics of twisted, also known as supercoiled, DNA and topoisomerases, the essential enzymes that control DNA supercoiling and preserve genome integrity in cells. He has perfected physics-based approaches and built unique instrumentation to control individual DNA molecules with unprecedented precision. His research has provided novel insights and resolved longstanding questions concerning essential mechanisms of topoisomerases, the inhibition topoisomerases by anticancer chemotherapeutic agents, and fundamental aspects of DNA topology.
- Alexey Gorshkov – NIST, U.S. Department of Commerce
Dr. Gorshkov is a pioneering researcher at the crossroads of quantum optics and atomic and condensed matter physics. His landmark achievement of creating strong interactions between photons provides a practical basis for a new generation of technology, where instead of electrons, circuits of light are used to perform logical operations and computations. Expanding upon his successful demonstration, which was hailed as one of Physics World’s top 10 breakthroughs, he has shown novel ways to control strongly coupled atom/light systems and is laying the theoretical foundation for a new suite of quantum technologies.
- Keith A. Becker – U.S. Department of Justice
As a deputy chief and trial attorney for the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Mr. Becker has developed and implemented innovative criminal enforcement strategies that profoundly improved our nation’s ability to identify, apprehend and bring to justice highly sophisticated child sexual predators and to prevent the ongoing victimization of children. As the lead U.S. prosecutor in multiple highly complex national and international child sexual exploitation investigations and prosecutions, he has worked diligently with U.S. and foreign law enforcement partners to enable the successful use of cutting-edge law enforcement tools and techniques to identify evidence and offenders.
- Suzanne Shirley – U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Ms. Shirley is the director of fellowships and community engagement with the Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem and has transformed the way the Department of Veterans Affairs engages with both internal and external collaborators to drive and accelerate health care innovation within one of the country’s largest health care systems. Her impact ranges from spearheading remote patient monitoring innovations to developing partnerships to support veteran caregivers and accelerating clinical trials for COVID-19 efforts. These efforts have led to the discovery and spread of mission-driven health care innovation, advanced care delivery and services, affecting the lives of veterans, their families and their communities.
- Tisha R. Wiley – National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Dr. Wiley is the primary architect of the Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network (JCOIN), an ambitious initiative that seeks to address the drug overdose crisis by reimagining the way the justice system responds to addiction. JCOIN builds linkages between scientists at academic centers and justice systems—jails, prisons, probation/parole, drug courts, juvenile justice and similar settings—so that policy and practice innovations can be rapidly launched and rigorously tested. JCOIN’s focus is provision of evidence-based opioid treatment services to individuals as they transition from the justice system to the community.