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About Sigma Xi » News » David Michaels to Receive Sigma Xi's 2009 McGovern Award

July 6, 2009

On July 28, President Barack Obama announced the nomination of David Michaels as assistant secretary for the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

David Michaels to Receive Sigma Xi's 2009 McGovern Award

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC - Epidemiologist David Michaels' work has focused on the use of science in public policy.

He directs The Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy at George Washington University, bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scientists to examine the use and misuse of science in two forums in which public policy is shaped: the courts and the regulatory arena.

Michaels will receive Sigma Xi's 2009 John P. McGovern Science and Society Award, which has been presented annually since 1984. Past recipients include oceanographer Sylvia Earle, Canadian broadcaster David Suzuki and Nobel laureate Roald Hoffmann.

Michaels is research professor and interim chairman in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, where he directs the department's doctoral program.

In addition to his current work on science policy, he has conducted epidemiologic studies on typographers, commercial pressmen, construction workers, bus drivers and paper workers.

Michaels is the author of Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health, as well as articles in many scientific publications.

From 1998-2001, he served as the U.S. Department of Energy's assistant secretary for environment, safety and health. In this position, he had primary responsibility for protecting the health and safety of workers, the neighboring communities and the environment surrounding the nation's nuclear weapons facilities.

He was the chief architect of the historic initiative to compensate workers in the nuclear weapons complex who developed cancer or lung disease as a result of exposure to radiation, beryllium and other hazards.

Michaels founded and directed (1986-1990) the Epidemiology Unit of the Montefiore-Rikers Island Health Service, the first such unit in a jail in the U.S., conducting studies on tuberculosis, sexually-transmitted disease, drug abuse, mental health, homelessness and HIV.

He developed a widely-used mathematical model for estimating the number of children whose mothers have died of HIV/AIDS.

In 2006, he received the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award for his work on behalf of nuclear weapons workers and for his advocacy for scientific integrity.

Michaels is also the recipient of the American Public Health Association's David P. Rall Award for Advocacy in Public Health and the U.S. Department of Energy's Meritorious Service Award.

About Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
Founded in 1886, Sigma Xi is the international honor society of research scientists and engineers, with more than 500 chapters at colleges and universities, government laboratories and industry research centers. Membership is by invitation, in recognition of research potential or achievement. Over the years, more than 200 Sigma Xi members have received the Nobel Prize. In addition to publishing American Scientist magazine, the non-profit Society awards hundreds of grants annually to student researchers and sponsors a variety of programs that support science and engineering.


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