DrPH student Michael Perry receives two APHL awards

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Each year the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) presents awards to those who, according to the group’s website, have made “outstanding achievements in laboratory science.” At a virtual ceremony held in June, Michael Perry, a USF College of Public Health (COPH) DrPH candidate in public health and clinical laboratory science and practice, was honored with two of those prestigious awards.

Perry, the associate director of the Biodefense Laboratory at the Wadsworth Center, a New York State Public Health lab in Albany, NY, received both the Leadership in Biosafety and Biosecurity Award as well as the Silver Award. 

The Leadership in Biodefense and Biosecurity Award honors a laboratorian with over 10 years of service in a biodefense/biosecurity field at a state or local public health lab. According to APHL website, it recognizes “a leader both within their home laboratory as well as external to their laboratory (for example, by serving in a leadership role on committees/task forces at the national level).” In addition to his work at Wadsworth, Perry has worked as an APHL contractor, developing training in biorisk management for public health labs throughout Africa. The Silver Award “honors a laboratorian with 10 to 15 years of service in a governmental public health laboratory,” reports the website.

DrPH candidate Michael Perry, MS, MS Ed., receives two APHL 2020 awards. (Photo courtesy of Michael Perry)

“I was shocked and honored to win not only one award, but two,” said Perry. “I am humbled that multiple people thought that I was deserving and that my contributions were significant enough to get me nominated.”

Perry isn’t taking any time to rest on his laurels. 

In addition to performing his biosafety duties, he’s been working almost nonstop in the Wadsworth Center’s Virology Lab, helping to process the hundreds of COVID-19 tests that come to the lab daily. “You would think that people would start to get burnt out and complain, but the attitude has been very positive,” commented Perry. “I think everyone understands the importance of the work they are doing.” 

Running a biodefense lab, testing for COVID-19 almost 24/7 and pursuing a doctoral degree all at the same time makes it difficult to achieve a life/work balance. But Perry says he enjoys the challenge.

“As a scientist and member of the public health community, my life goals are to promote public health and ensure that the world is ready for the next disaster or emerging pathogen,” said Perry.

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health