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Your Environment. Your Health.

Fellow of the Year

Fellows' Career Development

Fellow of the Year

Fellows' Career Development

Fellow of the Year winner being presented award
Table of Contents
Two people working in a lab

The Fellow of the Year award is designed to recognize performance above and beyond the call of duty. The award, in the form of a $1,500 travel award and certificate of recognition, is presented annually at NIEHS Science Days.

Nominating Instructions and Eligibility Criteria

PIs, staff scientists, research fellows, visiting fellows, IRTA fellows and biologists are encouraged to nominate an NIEHS/NTP IRTA postdoctoral, visiting or research fellow for this award; please do not self-nominate. Postbaccalaureate, predoctoral, and summer interns are also eligible; however, please ensure a majority of the criteria outlined below is fulfilled. To nominate, please provide at least three letters of support for your nominee that clearly address the criteria described below. Nominees will be evaluated by a committee of previous Mentor of the Year Award recipients and nominees. Please note a candidate is restricted to win this award only once. The Fellow of the Year nominees will be evaluated on criteria important for successful well-rounded independent research careers, including:

  1. Passion for and dedication to research
  2. Leadership (including in research design and implementation, in managing research teams and fostering interpersonal relationships, in any scientifically relevant initiatives, etc).
  3. Service (reviewer for journals, an internal reviewer, participation in committees and scientific societies, outreach activities, etc).
  4. Collegiality (provides feedback for practice talks or on research proposals, available to colleagues for advice, input or collaboration).
  5. Mentoring (demonstrates effective mentoring ability: sets clear expectations, effectively communicates, fosters cultural awareness, balances guidance with encouraged self-direction, etc).
  6. Science communication (presentations at meetings or lab/branch seminars and journal clubs, engages in active dialogue/inquiry with the scientific community).

Please address letters of support to "Fellow of the Year Committee". The lead nominator should ask individuals to send their letters of support directly to:

Fellow of the Year Winners

Cassandra Hayne

2021 Winner: Cassandra K. Hayne, Ph.D.

Cassandra K. Hayne, Ph.D., IRTA Postdoc of the Nucleolar Integrity Group, Signal Transduction Laboratory, won Fellow of the Year. She also won the Best Oral Presentation for her study of human tRNA splicing mechanisms.

Oswaldo Lozoya

2020 Winner: Oswaldo A. Lozoya, Ph.D.

Oswaldo “Ozzy” Lozoya, Ph.D., won this year’s award. A fellow in the Environmental Epigenomics and Disease Group, he was nominated by group leader Douglas Bell, Ph.D. Bell noted that Lozoya’s application to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program was so impressive that instead of awarding the $600,000 requested, the review committee awarded the project $1 million.

Fei Zhao, Ph.D.

2019 Winner: Fei Zhao, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral fellow Fei Zhao, Ph.D., of the Reproductive Developmental Biology Group, was named Fellow of the Year. He was selected by the Office of Fellows' Career Development (OFCD) for his research on the development of male and female reproductive tracts. With help from his mentor Humphrey Yao, Ph.D., Zhao found that female mouse embryos actively remove male reproductive systems. Next January, he will start his own lab at the University of Wisconsin.

portrait of Monica Pillon, Ph.D.

2018 Winner: Monica Pillon, Ph.D.

Dr. Monica Pillon received the award from her nominator and mentor, Dr. Robin Stanley. She was selected by the Office of Fellows' Career Development (OFCD) for her research on the structure of the essential multi-enzyme RNA processing complex. Dr. Stanley said "The first time I ever spoke with Monica was during a phone interview, and I had never talked with anyone quite so excited about science. I knew immediately that I had to have this person join my group. Monica is absolutely spectacular at everything she does."

Natalie Saini

2017 Winner: Natalie Saini, Ph.D.

Dr. Natalie Saini received the award from her nominator and mentor, Dr. Dmitry Gordenin. She was selected by the Office of Fellows' Career Development (OFCD) for her research on how mutations differ in the genomes of healthy people. OFCD Director Dr. Tammy Collins said "Dr. Saini exemplifies not only excellence in research, but also embodies the spirit of collegiality and is praised as an excellent communicator and mentor."

Katie M. O'Brien

2016 Winner: Katie M. O'Brien, Ph.D.

Dr. Katie O'Brien received her award from her nominator and mentor, Dr. Clarice Weinberg. Weinberg stated "Katie exemplifies a model postdoctoral fellow, in terms of her passion for the research — in her case, it was trying to discover causes for breast cancer — but also her personal integrity, and ability to think and write clearly and beautifully. I was extremely fortunate when I was able to recruit Katie."

Miranda Bernhardt, Ph.D.

2015 Winner: Dr. Miranda Bernhardt

Dr. Miranda Bernhardt received the 2015 Fellow of the Year award from her nominator and mentor, Dr. Carmen Williams. In a fitting surprise, the NIEHS Trainees' Assembly announced that Williams was the Assembly's choice for 2015 Mentor of the Year.

Quaker Harmon

2014 Winner: Dr. Quaker Harmon

NIEHS' 2014 Fellow of the Year was Dr. Quaker Harmon, who accepted her award from her nominator and mentor, Dr. Donna Baird.

Steven Roberts, Ph.D.

2013 Winner: Dr. Steven Roberts

NIEHS' 2013 Fellow of the Year was Dr. Steven Roberts, who accepted his award from his nominator and mentor, Dr. Dmitry Gordenin. Gordenin's description of Roberts as a scientist and person was a persuasive argument that he most certainly deserved the recognition.

Bonnie R. Joubert, Ph.D.

2012 Inaugural winner: Dr. Bonnie Joubert

Dr. Bonnie Joubert received the first NIEHS Fellow of the Year award in 2012 from her nominator and mentor, Dr. Stephanie London. London had high praise for Joubert, concluding with the question..."How did I deserve to get someone as good as her?"

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