USPHS Engineer Category Awards and Centennial Celebration


On Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Engineer Category held its Awards Breakfast & Centennial Celebration. The event was held at the original Public Health Service building on 1951 Constitution Ave in Northwest Washington, D.C. The building was constructed specifically for the Surgeon General and the USPHS in 1931.

As part of the festivities, Chief Engineer, Rear Adm. Sven Rodenbeck unveiled a video highlighting the diverse work of the USPHS Engineering Category and the contributions of the category – both past and present. The video will soon be available for use as a recruitment tool.

The Deputy Surgeon General, Rear Adm. Boris Lushniak, gave the keynote speech on how centennial celebrations connect the present with the past in a meaningful and tangible way. Rear Adm. Lushniak called upon Junior Officers to look back on their category’s history for inspiration and guidance.

Cdr. Ramsey Hawasly, current Chair of the USPHS Engineer Professional Advisory Committee, announced this year’s awardees:

  • Capt. Richard Gelting, Ph.D., P.E.–PHS Engineer of the Year
  • Cdr. Varsha Savalia, M.S.–Rear. Adm. Jerrold M. Michael Award
  • John Morris, P.E.–NIH Engineer of the Year
  • Cdr. Melissa Burns, M.S., E.I.T.–FDA Engineer of the Year (Commissioned Corps)
  • Dr. Berkman Sahiner–FDA Engineer of the Year (Civil Service)
  • Capt. David Apanian, P.E.–EPA Engineer of the Year
  • Dr. Thomas Bobick, P.E.–CDC Engineer of the Year
  • Kevin D’Amanda, P.E.–IHS Engineer of the Year
  • Lt. Cdr. Mark Baker, P.E.–NPS Engineer of the Year

The event preceded the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) Awards Luncheon where it was announced that that PHS Engineer of the Year, CAPT Richard Gelting, was also recognized as the 2013 Federal Engineer of the Year for his work on the global implementation of multiple water safety plans in Jamaica, Guyana, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, and St. Lucia.


The Centennial Cake is inspected and cut by (from left to right) Lt. j.g. Simpson (most Junior Officer present), Rear. Adm. Michael (Ret.) (the most Senior Engineer Officer present), and Deputy Surgeon General Rear Adm. Lushniak (the honored guest). Photo by Cdr. Nicholas Vizzone


The attendees of the U.S. Public Health Service Engineers Awards Breakfast and Centennial Celebration. 1951 Constitution Ave, NW, Washington, D.C. The former PHS building – note the anchor and caduceus symbol engraved above the center door. Currently, this building serves as the Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Headquarters. Photo by Cdr. Nicholas Vizzone


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