Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Extramural Research

Scientific and Technological Achievement Awards 2014 Nomination Procedures And Guidelines

Research Project Search

Extramural Research Search

INTRODUCTION

The mission of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to protect human health and the environment. Achievement of this mission requires the application of sound science to the assessment of environmental problems and the evaluation of possible solutions. The Office of Research and Development (ORD) at EPA is committed to providing the best products in high-priority areas of scientific research.

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

The Scientific and Technological Achievement Awards (STAA) program promotes and recognizes scientific and technological achievements by all EPA employees. The STAA program began in 1980 and is sponsored by ORD. ORD also manages the STAA program and provides administrative oversight. EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB) provides scientific and technological evaluation. While this program is sponsored by ORD, this competition is available Agency-wide.

RESEARCH CATEGORIES

Nominations may be submitted in the following research categories. (Note: Research category descriptions are provided as general guidance. They are not intended to exclude nominations that otherwise fit within the category title.) Enter the primary research category and, as appropriate, one or more secondary categories on the Nomination Form (secondary category notations are optional). A nomination number using the primary research category will be assigned for administrative purposes; however, the SAB may use secondary categories in the review process.

  1. Control Systems and Technology (CS): This category includes research on the development, design, testing, and deployment of treatment and disposal systems and on the adaptation of existing systems to new uses. The research may include the development of prototypes, model systems, operations and maintenance equipment, pilot systems, or performance evaluations.
  2. Ecological Research (ER): This category includes experimental or field research, structure and functions of ecosystems research, interaction of organisms with their ecosystem, and stressors' effects and their interaction on ecosystems.
  3. Health Effects Research and Human Health Risk Assessment (HE): This category includes laboratory and epidemiological analytical research for human health risk estimation and studies for improving human health risk assessment.
  4. Monitoring and Measurement Methods (MM): This category includes research on developing indicators, monitoring systems, and designs for measuring the exposures of ecosystems to multiple stressors and the resultant response of ecosystems at local, regional, and national scales.
  5. Transport and Fate (TF): This category includes research on the mechanisms and moderators of the movement of chemicals within and among environmental media, their transformations, and storage in the environment by chemical, physical, and biological processes. The research may include laboratory or field research and models.
  6. Review Articles (RA): A review article may be in any disciplinary area. Review articles are expected to include a synthesis and a critical analysis of previous work that lead to a better understanding of and provide new insight into a particular discipline.
  7. Risk Management and Ecosystem Restoration (RM): This category consists of research that evaluates policy initiatives in ways that develop analysis and information to integrate science, engineering, and social science in support of environmental policy and regulatory decisions (e.g., standards). It includes developing prevention, management, adaptation, and remediation technologies to design, manage, restore, or rehabilitate ecosystems to achieve local, regional, and national goals.
  8. Integrated Risk Assessment (IR): This category covers research (observation, experimental, and theoretical) directed towards the goal of integrating human health and ecological risk assessment methods and analysis. It includes processes and modeling research for developing the models to understand, predict, and assess the current and probable future exposure and response of ecosystems to multiple stressors at multiple scales. It also includes risk assessment research for developing and applying assessment methods, indices, and guidelines for quantifying risk to the sustainability and vulnerability of ecosystems from multiple stressors at multiple scales.
  9. Environmental Policy and Decision-Making Studies (EP): This category covers research pertaining to EPA's policy formulation and regulatory and enforcement responsibilities. It specifically includes environmental policy, environmental justice, anthropology, psychology, sociology, decision-making, economics, urban and community planning, transportation, and land-use planning.
  10. Homeland Security (HS): This category includes both threat agent detection and decontamination, including rapid biosurveillance and detection systems, systems to detect emerging and advanced biological threats, software algorithms to improve detection, improved decontamination methods and restoration system tools, and decontamination technologies for removal of contaminants.
  11. Industry and the Environment (IE): This category includes research in areas such as pollution prevention, design for the environment, green chemistry, green engineering, environmental management accounting, and organizational behavior. It also includes systems analyses relating to products and/or industry such as life cycle assessment and material flow analysis.
  12. Energy and the Environment (EE): This category includes research on effective and sustainable solutions to environmental problems associated with energy production. Specific research areas include improving energy efficiency and conservation and developing sustainable energy sources.
  13. Sustainability and Innovation (SI): This category includes research that embodies the principles of sustainability. Sustainability is defined as the continued assurance of human health and well being, environmental resource protection and economic prosperity-today and for generations to come. Ideally, research that seeks sustainable solutions protects the environment, strengthens our communities and fosters prosperity. This category also includes research that employs particularly innovative approaches to provide expedient solutions to problems related to the achievement of sustainability and the protection of human health and the environment, as opposed to incremental solutions. This research may involve a new method or device and can take the form of wholly new applications or applications that build on existing knowledge and approaches for new uses.
  14. Other Environmental Research (OR): This category covers other research supporting environmental protection that does not clearly fit within any of the above-noted research categories. Please be assured that nominations submitted to this category are carefully considered by the SAB STAA subcommittee. Nominations to this category also help guide decisions to add new categories to future STAA announcements.

AWARD LEVELS
Note that the 2014 STAA awards may not include a monetary award.

  1. Level I ($10,000) awards are for nominees who have accomplished an exceptionally high-quality research or technological effort as described below. Awardees will also receive a letter of recognition, certificate of appreciation, and plaque.
    • It is expected to recognize the creation or general revision of a scientific or technological principle or procedure, or a highly significant improvement in the value of a device, activity, program, or service to the public.
    • It is expected to be highly relevant to EPA's mission.
    • It must be at least of national significance or have a high impact on a broad area of science/technology.
    • The nomination must be recognizable as a major scientific/technological achievement within its discipline.
  2. Level II ($5,000) awards are for nominees who have accomplished a notably excellent research or technological effort that has qualities and values similar to, but to a lesser degree, those described under Level I. Awardees will also receive a letter of recognition and certificate of appreciation.
    • It must have timely consequences and contribute as an important scientific/technological achievement within its discipline.
  3. Level III ($2,000) awards are for nominees who have accomplished an unusually notable research or development effort. Awardees will also receive a letter of recognition and certificate of appreciation.
    • The nomination can be for a substantial revision or modification of a scientific/technological principle or procedure, or an important improvement to the value of a device, activity, program, or service to the public.
    • It must significantly affect a relevant area of science/technology.
  4. Honorable Mention recognition is for nominations that are noteworthy but that do not warrant a Level I, II, or III award. Authors will receive a letter of recognition and certificate of appreciation. Honorable Mention applies to nominations that:
  5. (a) may not quite reach the level described for a Level III award, or

    (b) show a promising area of research that the SAB subcommittee wants to encourage, or

    (c) show an area of research that the SAB subcommittee feels is too preliminary to currently warrant a higher recommendation.

Any number of co-authors may share a single award. However, monetary awards are distributed on the basis of the nominee's designated percentage of contribution and eligibility to receive monetary awards. For example, if there are two EPA Authors eligible to receive monetary awards, one EPA Author in the Senior Executive Service (not eligible to receive a monetary award), and one Non-EPA Author (not eligible to receive a monetary award) who each contributed 25% on a $5,000 award, the two authors who are eligible to receive monetary awards will each receive 25% of $5,000, or $1,250, for their monetary award. However, the minimum monetary award is $250 (e.g., an EPA author contributing 5% toward a $2,000 award will receive $250).

NOTE: When more than one nomination with similar subjects and authors are submitted, the SAB may choose to combine these nominations into a single recommendation. Monetary awards are then distributed based on author contributions to the award (e.g., two nominations combined to receive a single Level II award will result in a $5,000 monetary award for both nominations)

CRITERIA FOR ELIGIBILITY

All nominations must meet the criteria below. For further information on these criteria, please review the "STAA Guidance and Frequently Asked Questions" document.

  1. Publications nominated in any earlier STAA competition are not eligible; however, previously nominated publications may be used as supplemental items to support a current nomination.
  2. The nominated publication(s) must have been published in a high-quality peer-reviewed journal (includes online journals and appropriately cited online preprints that are publicly available on or before January 1, 2014), or a suitable book. A single nomination, whether it is a single publication or multiple publications, must stand on its own merits. Journal publications are expected to be in journals that are professionally relevant to the field of work. Books or book chapters must have undergone the same standard of peer review that is used with established journals, including using external anonymous referees to evaluate the scientific merit of the book or chapter. Standard test method papers (example, ASTM) are not eligible due to the difficulty in ascribing and ascertaining authorship to such papers.
  3. Nominations may include videos or other non-traditional publication techniques when such techniques allow scientists and engineers to present their work in a clearer or more actionable fashion, to broader audiences. These non-traditional publications still need to be peer reviewed to ensure that the science is credible.
  4. The principal author must be an EPA employee (includes PHS employees assigned to EPA) when the relevant research was conducted. A principal author of a publication is the primary writer, leader, integrator, and creator of the publication. The principal author is responsible for the quality assurance, quality control, presentation, and defense of everything contained in the publication. A contributing author is a major substance provider to the research product. A contributing author is responsible for the quality assurance, quality control, and integrity of the input to the publication, but does not have primary responsibility for the overall publication. A contributing author may or may not write the publication in part, but must be a substantive expert reviewer for the representations made in the publication. NOTE: All co-authors are contributing authors; each co-author must be attributed a minimum of 1% "total effort" (see nomination form)
  5. EPA Authors (includes PHS employees assigned to EPA and Federal Post Docs) must have collectively contributed a minimum of 50% toward the publication(s). Note that contractors, grantees and their employees, fellows, as well as all other persons that are NOT federal employees working for the U.S. EPA when the relevant research was conducted, are not eligible for financial awards through this program. SES, ST, and SL employees are also not eligible for financial awards under the STAA program. Title 42 employees are eligible for recognition and also may be eligible for financial awards.
  6. The nominated publication(s) must have been published on or before January 1, 2014 and on or after January 1, 2011 (includes online journals and appropriately cited online preprints that are publicly available on or before January 1, 2014). Also see "2." above.
  7. Nominations may include one, two, or three eligible publications. Multiple publications with similar subjects and authors should be submitted as one nomination; however, a strong link between the subject matter should be apparent to justify combining the publications. This link should be thoroughly described in the Justification section of the nomination form. Publications in excess of three can be included in the nomination as supplemental items.
  8. All supplemental information sent to journals should be included with the nomination package as supplemental items. The SAB requires this material since it frequently provides useful context on the quality and innovativeness of the research and the potential consequences of the research within its discipline or field of study.
  9. Submission of more than two (2) nominations (includes both individual and multiple publication nominations) from a single principal author in a given year requires concurrence from the STAA Coordinator. There is no limit to the number of nominations that may be submitted as a contributing author. However, authors submitting multiple nominations on very similar topics must provide adequate justification on how each nomination differs and provides a unique contribution to advancement of scientific knowledge for the topic.

Note: Multiple related nominations from the same principal author are likely to be combined into a single award, as appropriate.

REQUIRED APPROVALS

Nomination packages may be initiated and prepared by any EPA scientist or engineer (or PHS employee or Federal Post Doc assigned to EPA) at any organizational level, including the publication author(s), but an author cannot serve as a Nominating Official or an Approving Official for their own publication. As noted on the Nomination Form, the Nominating Official attests that the nomination is placed in the appropriate Research Category.

Within ORD: The Nominating Official must be the Division Director, and the Approving Official must be the Laboratory or Center Director. If the Division Director is an author, the Laboratory or Center Director must be the Nominating Official, and the Approving Official is the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science. If the nomination is from an ORD headquarters office, the Nominating Official must be the Office or Center Director, and the Approving Official is the Assistant Administrator or the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science. If the Office Director is an author, the Nominating and Approving Official will be the Assistant Administrator. If a Staff member of a National Program Director (NPD) is the author, the Deputy NPD will be the Nominating Official and the NPD will be the Approving Official. If the Deputy NPD is an author, the NPD will be the Nominating Official and Deputy Assistant Administrator (DAA) for Science will be the Approving Official. If an NPD is an author, the DAA for Science will be the Nominating Official and the Assistant Administrator will be the Approving Official.

Outside of ORD: The Nominating Official must be at the Division Director level or equivalent, and the Approving Official must be at the Office Director level or equivalent. If the Division Director or Office Director is an author, then the office must select appropriate Nominating and Approving Officials. The Nominating Official and the Approving Official cannot be the same person except when the Assistant Administrator is the Nominating Official.

NOTE: Award materials will be sent to the Office Award Contact. This person is responsible for distribution of award materials. Please identify a single appropriate person to act as the "Office Award Contact" for all nominations originating from a single Approving Official.

NOMINATION PROCEDURES

The following procedures must be followed to accurately and completely prepare and submit a STAA nomination package. Please also review the "STAA Guidance and Frequently Asked Questions" to assist in your nomination preparation.

After the call letter is issued by the Assistant Administrator for Research and Development (AA/ORD), any EPA employee (or PHS employee assigned to EPA) may initiate the preparation of a nomination package. Nomination packages may only be submitted electronically. A nomination package consists of all requested materials, with all of the required signatures. The original component of the package contains the following three items:

  • Nomination Form
  • Nominated Publication(s)-no more than three
  • Supplemental Item(s)

A nomination with publications/supplemental items that cannot be provided electronically may be submitted. Also, non-traditional publications such as videos may be submitted. Contact the STAA Coordinator, Ben Packard, packard.benjamin@epa.gov 703-343-8087 for information on submission of materials that cannot be transmitted by electronic means or how to submit non-traditional publications.

Unless the STAA Coordinator has been informed otherwise in advance of the nomination deadline and acknowledged having received that information, it is expected that all submission materials will be submitted as one package. Without this advanced notice, the STAA Coordinator cannot guarantee that materials sent separately will be appropriately combined for review.

No updates to nominations will be allowed after the deadline.

Nomination Form: Complete the nomination form using the instructions included on the form. Please also review the "STAA Guidance and Frequently Asked Questions" to assist in your nomination form preparation.

  • The nomination form must have the signatures of both the Nominating Official and the Approving Official (they must be separate individuals: see "Required Approvals" above for more information). Within ORD, a single "Office Award Contact" must be used for all nominations from a single Laboratory, Center, or Office. Award materials will be sent to the Office Award Contact for distribution. Outside of ORD, a single "Office Award Contact" must be used for all nominations from a single Approving Official.
  • Each author must be entered separately. Please ensure that each author's full name is spelled correctly. Also, be sure to enter employment information with a complete and current mailing address. We must have a current address for all EPA and non-EPA authors named in the nomination (No P.O. Box).
  • Record of Percentage Agreement: Despite the current non-monetary award status of the STAA Program, we are requiring that applicants still include a Record of Percentage Agreement document from each author listed on the nomination form. This document may be submitted in the form of an e-mail or signed letter, which states that the co-author agrees with the total percentage of effort listed beside his or her name on the nomination form, and included as the last information provided in the nomination package. The document should list "Record of Percentage Agreement" in the subject line, followed by the co-author's first and last name. The body of the document should contain the co-author's name, organization, and contact information, the nominee's name, the title(s) of the nominated publication(s), and a brief paragraph stating that the author is in agreement with his or her designated percentage of contribution. (Note: A Record of Percentage Agreement document is not required for single-author nominations.) When an author cannot be located, provide information on efforts to locate that author.
  • Nominated Publication(s): Include no more than three nominated publications. Enter the titles of the nominated publications in "Initial Caps" format (for example, "Effects of Benzene Exposure") Note: The database used for the STAA program cannot support italics, underlines, special characters, superscripts, or subscripts. Please edit all submission information completely.
  • Bibliometric journal statistics (i.e., impact factor, immediacy index, and citation half-life) are required for all nominated publications and must be recorded on Page 3 of the nomination form if available. Most journals are listing the impact factors on their websites. Impact factors are also found at Web of Science, http://www.webofknowledge.com/, which is available to all EPA employees. Thomson's Science Citation Index and Journal Citation Reports are also useful tools for obtaining this data. Contact your local EPA library for assistance retrieving bibliometric journal statistics. Also, the EPA Library in Research Triangle Park has access to these resources and can assist with obtaining bibliometric information. Requests for this information may be submitted through their website at http://intranet.epa.gov/rtplibrary/staaprogram.html. Alternate methods of documenting the impact of the publication(s) may be used as deemed appropriate and can be documented in the space provided.
  • Supplemental Items: All supplemental information sent to journals to support the nominated publications must be included in the nomination package. Additional supplemental material may include patent documents, other publications relating to the nominated publication's achievement, other publications from the series but not part of the nomination, or selected excerpts or abstracts from other sources relevant to the achievement.
  • Justification: Provide a complete description of why the nominated publication(s) deserves Agency-wide recognition and how it is relevant to the EPA's mission. Your description should be written so that a non-expert in the field of the publication(s) will understand its importance and impact upon the ability of the Agency to better accomplish its mission. Provide evidence to support any statements made describing the scientific merit of the nominated publication(s). Note: The space available under Justification (page 4) is expandable when completing the form electronically.
  • If multiple publications are submitted, a comprehensive explanation should be given that identifies the links and relationships between the publications and identifies why they were included together as a single nomination.
  • For each nominated author, publication titles, years, and award levels of the author's previous STAA nominations for the last 5 years should be provided. A description of how the current nomination's publication(s) differ from previous nomination(s) must be provided. Note: While not eligible for this year's competition, publications nominated in earlier STAA competitions may be submitted as "Supplemental Items."
  • If authors are submitting multiple concurrent nominations on very similar subjects and topics, adequate justification should be provided on how each nomination is sufficiently different and provides a unique contribution to the advancement of scientific knowledge for that topic.
  • Citation: Be sure to provide a citation that does not exceed 120 characters, including spaces. Enter the citations in "Initial Caps" format (for example, "Effects of Benzene Exposure on Adult Population"). Do not use italics, underlines, special characters, superscripts, or subscripts. We recommend that your citation be in plain language and carefully edited for readability. To avoid past issues with lengthy citations, please provide the number of characters/ spaces in your citation.

ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION

The following procedures must be followed for electronic submission of nominations:

  • The complete nomination package must be submitted via e-mail to nominations.STAA@epa.gov. Please be sure to cc yourself as documentation of your timely submission.
  • Each component of the nomination package (i.e., the signed nomination form, publication(s), supplemental item(s), and record-of-percentage agreement documents) must be saved in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) prior to submission. See EPA's PDF page to learn more and for free download of the Adobe Acrobat Reader program at http://www.epa.gov/epahome/pdf/html.
  • Each PDF document in the nomination package component must be named as follows:
    • Nomination Form (principal author's first and last name)
    • Record of Percentage Agreement (co-author's first and last name; not needed for principal author)
    • Publication1, Publication2, etc. (up to three)
    • Supplemental1, Supplemental2, etc.
  • The nomination package components (i.e., the PDF documents described above) should be zipped into one attachment labeled with the Research Category code followed by the last name then first name of the Principal Author Contact (e.g., JS Smith John). WinZip, a software program which can be used to compress multiple attachments to create a single zipped file, is available on your EPA computer or can be obtained by contacting the Help Desk. For information on using WinZip, see http://www.winzip.com/.
  • The subject line of the submission e-mail must include the Principal Author Contact's first and last name.

All nomination packages are due to the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) by midnight ET on Thursday, February 6, 2014. Due to the extensive processing requirements, no exceptions will be permitted. It is expected that all nomination materials will be submitted in one package. The STAA Coordinator cannot guarantee that materials sent separately will be appropriately combined for review.

No updates to nominations will be allowed after the deadline date.

An acknowledgement of receipt will be e-mailed approximately 30 days after the nomination deadline. After 30 days, if you do not receive this e-mail, please forward your copy of the nomination e-mail to the STAA Coordinator for receipt verification.

EVALUATION GUIDELINES

The nomination packages are received by ORD/NCER's Peer Review Division (PRD). After the nomination packages are screened for administrative compliance, they are provided to the SAB STAA subcommittee for review. The subcommittee members are selected on the basis of their expertise in the categories of science and technology addressed by the nominated publications, and serve for approximately three years. When necessary, the subcommittee obtains reviews from additional experts to ensure the credibility of the review process. The SAB reviews the nomination packages according to the following factors:

  1. The extent to which the work reported in the nominated publication(s) resulted in either new or significantly revised knowledge. The accomplishment is expected to represent an important advancement of scientific knowledge or technology relevant to environmental issues and EPA's mission.
  2. The degree to which the accomplishment is a product of the originality, creativeness, initiative, and problem-solving ability of the researchers, as well as the level of effort required to produce the results.
  3. The extent to which environmental protection has been strengthened or improved, whether of local, national, or international importance.
  4. The extent of the beneficial impact of the accomplishment and the degree to which the accomplishment has been favorably recognized from outside EPA.
  5. The nature and extent of peer review, including stature and quality of the peer-reviewed journal or the publisher of a book for a review chapter published therein.

Note: Nominations that are submitted to an inappropriate category will not be disqualified; they will be placed in the category the SAB subcommittee considers appropriate.

Jump to main content.