Thursday, February 16, 2006

AAAS gets it right with David Michaels

It's nice (but not common) when a major scientific organization recognizes a scientist for a commitment to justice and integrity. But today the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) did just that by bestowing on Dr. David Michaels their Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility. David (whom the Reveres are proud to call a friend and colleague) is just what the award says he is: committed to justice and integrity.

A research professor and associate chair in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services, he was formerly Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health at the U.S. Department of Energy, where he championed a decades-long struggle by workers who had been employed in the manufacture or testing of nuclear weapons. The result was an historic compensation program for these victims of the Cold War. He is also Director of the Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy project, a small group of senior public health scientists who work on the problem of making science a useful and effective part of the tort system and regulation, in the face of an ugly onslaught on science and scientists by industry. SKAPP's website is a wealth of information for those interested in the use of scientific evidence as part of public policy.

AAAS instituted the award in 1980 to
"honor individual scientists and engineers or organizations for exemplary actions that help foster scientific freedom and responsibility. The award recognizes outstanding efforts to protect the public’s health, safety or welfare; to focus public attention on potential impacts of science and technology; to establish new precedents in carrying out social responsibilities; or to defend the professional freedom of scientists and engineers." (AAAS press release; more details on David Michael's achievements there)
In giving it to David Michaels, they sure got that one right. Congratulations David.