This award honors an individual or laboratory outside of the APHL membership that makes significant contributions to the advancement of public health laboratory science and/or practice. The award is appropriate for a variety of people or agencies and will recognize support provided to meet critical needs in public health laboratories; this award could potentially be given to public health program leaders, state health officials, or federal agencies who (for example):

  • Are nationally recognized leaders in the field of public/environmental health
  • Build consensus on emerging/challenging issues
  • Have made significant contributions to the advancement of public/environmental health laboratory science/practice

The above are examples to help the nominators frame their response and are not intended to be an all-inclusive list of potential attributes that describe the successful nominee for this category.

Formal recognition for this award will take place during the awards breakfast at the APHL Annual Meeting.

Past Winners

expand Year: 2016
Nancy Thiex, MS, MEd
Ms. Thiex has made significant contributions to the advancement of public health science and practice and building consensus on the issue of food and feed sampling. Ms. Thiex developed the concept for GOODSamples (standing for Guidance on Obtaining Defensible Samples), a guidance document for food and feed sample collection utilizing science-based, internationally acceptable protocols. This framework will address many of the potential sources of error in the analytical measurement process, some of which are completely unappreciated by most regulators.

GOODSamples will support FSMA regulations and the development of an integrated food safety system by helping to standardize activities across the food/feed testing, to meet program standards and enhance food safety. This project is part of the FDA awarded funding to APHL, AFDO and AAFCO used to facilitate long-term improvements to the national food and animal feed safety system by strengthening multi-disciplinary laboratory collaboration and equivalency.
expand Year: 2015
Robert Kobelski
Robert Kobelski, MS, PhD
Dr. Kobelski is currently the owner and principal scientist with Resolution Sciences LLC which is a training/consulting company specializing in chromatography and mass spectrometry. Prior to establishing his own company, Dr. Kobelski served for more than 14 years as Program Officer for the LRN-C at the CDC, served as an Engineer for 9 years with Hewlett-Packard, and had a variety of positions in the industry earlier in his career. He is nationally recognized as one of the founding fathers of the chemical component of the Laboratory Response Network (LRN-C) when he was a Program Officer at the CDC. He led scientific and technical training of LRN staff at the CDC, led method development for the determination of numerous human metabolites resulting from exposure to hazardous chemicals and led the operation of a proficiency testing program for emergency response laboratories.

Due to Dr. Kobelski’s efforts on the front line, many state emergency response laboratories have utilized the skilled staff and instrumentation provided through the LRN-C to support new and emerging threats at the local level within their states.
expand Year: 2014
expand Year: 2013
​Desiree Mustaquim, MPH,
Surveillance Epidemiologist, Influenza Division, CDC
​As a surveillance epidemiologist with the Influenza Division at CDC, she has been a tireless advocate for promoting synergies between laboratory and epidemiology efforts, as well as continuous quality improvement related to laboratory surveillance messaging on a national scale. After earning her MPH, Desiree began working as the main Surveillance Epidemiologist on the Public Health Laboratory Interoperability project. In this role as the first end-users of standardized electronic surveillance data, she was instrumental in bridging the gap between laboratory and epidemiology objectives and was able to educate project participants on the revolution of enhanced data messaging, combining lab with epidemiology data. Throughout this process, Desiree served as a focal point between CDC and APHL PHLIP project leadership, Influenza Laboratorians, and APHL state member laboratorians who knew the data best. Following a careful review of lessons learned from the PHLIP collaborative project, she is working with APHL’s Informatics Program to move projects to more modern surveillance platforms that allow for improved data quality and sophistication for data analyses.
expand Year: 2012
expand Year: 2011
2011 APHL On the Front Line Award Recipient John Griggs
John Griggs, PhD
Dr. Griggs is making significant contributions to the advancement of environmental public health practice and science. He is a nationally recognized expert in radioanalytical science. He is currently serving as Director, Center for Environmental Radioanalytical Laboratory Science (CERLS), National Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory (NAREL) in the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air and Office of Air and Radiation for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Dr. Griggs’ continual sharing of his extensive knowledge of radiochemical testing methods and guidance that he provides truly place him “on the front line” in supporting and working with state environmental public health laboratories to begin to address the radiochemical laboratory preparedness gap we are facing in the United States. CERLS serves as a Reference Radiological Laboratory for EPA’s National Homeland Security Research Center, provides data for site assessment and cleanup activities conducted by EPA, performs analysis of samples collected through EPA’s national radiation monitoring network (Rad Net) and also provides technical consultation, assistance, and training on environmental radiological laboratory issues to other offices of EPA, states, and other federal agencies. Dr. Griggs has been an invaluable resource to state and local environmental public health laboratories.
expand Year: 2010
expand Year: 2009
​Allan Antley, BA Retired Operations Liaison, Homeland Security Laboratory Response Center in the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response Environmental Protection Agency
​Allan Antley retired in 2009 as the Operations Liaison in the Homeland Security Laboratory Response Center in the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response at EPA. His primary duty in this role was the development of the Environmental Laboratory Response Network (ERLN), EPA’s counterpart to the LRN, created so that the EPA can coordinate environmental laboratory responses to biological, chemical or radiochemical events. His valuable contributions assisted in the creation of network procedures to address network issues such as prioritization of agents, analytical methods, quality assurance, and data management. He also established membership criteria and operational procedures, including building relations with other federal agencies, and state and commercial laboratories. Mr. Antley was an active supporter of APHL, participating in the APHL LRN Partners workgroup, and providing regular updates to APHL’s Environmental Health Committee and Environmental Laboratory Subcommittee. Additionally he contributed to the development of the EPA emergency drinking water regional response plans and exercises, participated in by APHL members.
expand Year: 2008
expand Year: 2005
​Neil Buist, MB, ChB Professor Emeritus Oregon Health and Science University
​Buist’s leadership and vision have greatly contributed to the success of newborn screening programs. Over the course of his 50-year career, Buist has been instrumental in promoting universal newborn screening nationwide and continues to be a strong voice for expanded screening for many disorders. Buist received his medical training in Scotland and went on to direct the Pediatric Metabolic Laboratory and the Metabolic Birth Defects Center at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) for many years. He now serves as emeritus professor at OHSU. A strong supporter of state public health laboratories, Buist has served on numerous work groups and committees to promote newborn screening as a public health activity. His achievements include playing a significant role in the 1970s in developing the first regional newborn screening program in the US; being a leader in the early work on maternal PKU prevention and pioneering new approaches to the dietary management of PKU; describing new disorders, such as Rippling Muscle Disease; and being a medical consultant to the Northwest Regional Newborn Screening Program for more than 20 years. Over the span of his career, Buist has been a tireless advocate whose enthusiasm and persistence have greatly contributed to the success of newborn screening programs and to the health of infants around the world.

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William Smith


Mr. Smith has been engaged in Public Health sexual health activities since 1997 when he managed policy agenda and staffing for The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, where he developed a groundbreaking community based model to address the sexual health needs of adolescents. Later, as Vice President for Public Policy, with the Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), he created and advocated for a public policy portfolio involving areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights at the local, state, national and international levels.

Bill has held the position of Executive Director of the National Coalition of STD Directors since 2010, working with the CDC to develop best practices and improve sexual health through the delivery of behavioral and clinical interventions. He advocates for an increased focus on the role STDs play in HIV acquisition and the need for full STD screening.  He is a strong proponent of increased collaboration and has been working with APHL on ways to grow inter-dependent relationships among State and Local Public Health Laboratories.

With the demise of CDCs Infertility Prevention Project and loss of testing funds, Bill has been instrumental in having legislation passed to not only maintain STD grant dollars, but provide additional grant funding.

Nancy Thiex, MS, MEd


Ms. Thiex has made significant contributions to the advancement of public health science and practice and building consensus on the issue of food and feed sampling. Ms. Thiex developed the concept for GOODSamples (standing for Guidance on Obtaining Defensible Samples), a guidance document for food and feed sample collection utilizing science-based, internationally acceptable protocols. This framework will address many of the potential sources of error in the analytical measurement process, some of which are completely unappreciated by most regulators.

GOODSamples will support FSMA regulations and the development of an integrated food safety system by helping to standardize activities across the food/feed testing, to meet program standards and enhance food safety. This project is part of the FDA awarded funding to APHL, AFDO and AAFCO used to facilitate long-term improvements to the national food and animal feed safety system by strengthening multi-disciplinary laboratory collaboration and equivalency.

expand Year: 2015

Robert Kobelski, MS, PhD

Dr. Kobelski is currently the owner and principal scientist with Resolution Sciences LLC which is a training/consulting company specializing in chromatography and mass spectrometry. Prior to establishing his own company, Dr. Kobelski served for more than 14 years as Program Officer for the LRN-C at the CDC, served as an Engineer for 9 years with Hewlett-Packard, and had a variety of positions in the industry earlier in his career. He is nationally recognized as one of the founding fathers of the chemical component of the Laboratory Response Network (LRN-C) when he was a Program Officer at the CDC. He led scientific and technical training of LRN staff at the CDC, led method development for the determination of numerous human metabolites resulting from exposure to hazardous chemicals and led the operation of a proficiency testing program for emergency response laboratories.

Due to Dr. Kobelski’s efforts on the front line, many state emergency response laboratories have utilized the skilled staff and instrumentation provided through the LRN-C to support new and emerging threats at the local level within their states.

expand Year: 2014
expand Year: 2013

​Desiree Mustaquim, MPH,
Surveillance Epidemiologist, Influenza Division, CDC

​As a surveillance epidemiologist with the Influenza Division at CDC, she has been a tireless advocate for promoting synergies between laboratory and epidemiology efforts, as well as continuous quality improvement related to laboratory surveillance messaging on a national scale. After earning her MPH, Desiree began working as the main Surveillance Epidemiologist on the Public Health Laboratory Interoperability project. In this role as the first end-users of standardized electronic surveillance data, she was instrumental in bridging the gap between laboratory and epidemiology objectives and was able to educate project participants on the revolution of enhanced data messaging, combining lab with epidemiology data. Throughout this process, Desiree served as a focal point between CDC and APHL PHLIP project leadership, Influenza Laboratorians, and APHL state member laboratorians who knew the data best. Following a careful review of lessons learned from the PHLIP collaborative project, she is working with APHL’s Informatics Program to move projects to more modern surveillance platforms that allow for improved data quality and sophistication for data analyses.
expand Year: 2012
expand Year: 2011

John Griggs, PhD

Dr. Griggs is making significant contributions to the advancement of environmental public health practice and science. He is a nationally recognized expert in radioanalytical science. He is currently serving as Director, Center for Environmental Radioanalytical Laboratory Science (CERLS), National Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory (NAREL) in the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air and Office of Air and Radiation for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Dr. Griggs’ continual sharing of his extensive knowledge of radiochemical testing methods and guidance that he provides truly place him “on the front line” in supporting and working with state environmental public health laboratories to begin to address the radiochemical laboratory preparedness gap we are facing in the United States. CERLS serves as a Reference Radiological Laboratory for EPA’s National Homeland Security Research Center, provides data for site assessment and cleanup activities conducted by EPA, performs analysis of samples collected through EPA’s national radiation monitoring network (Rad Net) and also provides technical consultation, assistance, and training on environmental radiological laboratory issues to other offices of EPA, states, and other federal agencies. Dr. Griggs has been an invaluable resource to state and local environmental public health laboratories.
expand Year: 2010
expand Year: 2009

​Allan Antley, BA Retired Operations Liaison, Homeland Security Laboratory Response Center in the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response Environmental Protection Agency

​Allan Antley retired in 2009 as the Operations Liaison in the Homeland Security Laboratory Response Center in the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response at EPA. His primary duty in this role was the development of the Environmental Laboratory Response Network (ERLN), EPA’s counterpart to the LRN, created so that the EPA can coordinate environmental laboratory responses to biological, chemical or radiochemical events. His valuable contributions assisted in the creation of network procedures to address network issues such as prioritization of agents, analytical methods, quality assurance, and data management. He also established membership criteria and operational procedures, including building relations with other federal agencies, and state and commercial laboratories. Mr. Antley was an active supporter of APHL, participating in the APHL LRN Partners workgroup, and providing regular updates to APHL’s Environmental Health Committee and Environmental Laboratory Subcommittee. Additionally he contributed to the development of the EPA emergency drinking water regional response plans and exercises, participated in by APHL members.
expand Year: 2008
expand Year: 2005

​Neil Buist, MB, ChB Professor Emeritus Oregon Health and Science University

​Buist’s leadership and vision have greatly contributed to the success of newborn screening programs. Over the course of his 50-year career, Buist has been instrumental in promoting universal newborn screening nationwide and continues to be a strong voice for expanded screening for many disorders. Buist received his medical training in Scotland and went on to direct the Pediatric Metabolic Laboratory and the Metabolic Birth Defects Center at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) for many years. He now serves as emeritus professor at OHSU. A strong supporter of state public health laboratories, Buist has served on numerous work groups and committees to promote newborn screening as a public health activity. His achievements include playing a significant role in the 1970s in developing the first regional newborn screening program in the US; being a leader in the early work on maternal PKU prevention and pioneering new approaches to the dietary management of PKU; describing new disorders, such as Rippling Muscle Disease; and being a medical consultant to the Northwest Regional Newborn Screening Program for more than 20 years. Over the span of his career, Buist has been a tireless advocate whose enthusiasm and persistence have greatly contributed to the success of newborn screening programs and to the health of infants around the world.