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NHDES Names 2021 Employee of the Year and David S. Chase Award for Extraordinary Achievements in Science recipient

Date: January 10, 2022

The Employee of the Year Award highlights the outstanding work performed by NHDES staff throughout the year. Once again, this year we have seen numerous examples of staff members going the extra mile in performing their jobs.
The criteria for the Employee of the Year Award are:

  • Significant impact or innovation within NHDES or the State.
  • Initiative and leadership.
  • Improved efficiency.
  • Improved interagency cooperation.

In 2021, Erin Holmes was named the NHDES Employee of the Year. Erin’s work on the Southern New Hampshire Regional Interconnection drinking water project was incredibly impressive. Not only was this the largest such project in state history, but it was also negotiated and built in record time, which is a clear indication of Erin’s leadership and organizational skills. If her work on the Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund weren’t enough, last fall, Erin was tasked with creating (in two weeks!!!) a brand new program to help low-income residents whose wells were impacted by the drought. This was again a first for New Hampshire. No such program existed before Erin and the rest of NHDES put together what has become an award-winning program that has helped many New Hampshire families get safe and reliable drinking water. Not enough, not for Erin - she is now working on coordinating NHDES’ activities related to the federal American Rescue Plan Act funding that will be monumental for providing potentially hundreds of millions of dollars for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure upgrades that are sorely needed for our New Hampshire communities.

Congratulations, Erin!

David S. Chase Award for Extraordinary Achievements in Science – Chris Nash

The David S. Chase Memorial Award for Extraordinary Achievements in Science is presented to a deserving NHDES scientist who possesses the special skills and dedication necessary to continue the pursuit of scientific discovery at the agency. The award is named in honor of the late Dr. David S. Chase, who served as the Radon Program Manager at NHDES and the Department of Health and Human Services for 16 years. His devotion to his work made a significant impact on our understanding of radon, and how the public can mitigate the risks associated with this compound. After Dr. Chase’s passing, this award was established to recognize other NHDES employees who have made important accomplishments in the field of science.

The 2021 recipient of the David S. Chase Award is Chris Nash. Chris works tirelessly as the Shellfish Program Manager, often taking on responsibilities that go far beyond the scope of what is expected of a state employee. His detailed, innovative and industrious approaches not only help to ensure public health protection for shellfish consumers, but also facilitate the rapid development of a growing commercial shellfish industry in New Hampshire. Chris thrives when faced with making difficult public health decisions that require critical thinking, scientific analysis and collaborative efforts. He frequently whips up rigorous studies to test the effects of conditions or pollution sources on shellfish. Below are a few examples:

  • Relative to vibrio growth in aquaculture, Chris designed a study to determine the summer temperatures that shellfish cages might experience. Because he worked with the farmers to attach sensors to their equipment, they respected the results that could limit their operation.  
  • Worked closely with FDA on development of methods to include state programs in WWTP dye studies. Chris has been able to get more studies for New Hampshire and created a program for states to work together and learn from each other.  
  • Became a leader in understanding the dynamics of Male Specific Colifage (MSC) in WWTPs and the environment. The MCS studies he designed are informing the national discussion on how to use this measurement for virus detection.   
  • Fecal coliform sampling methods comparison study, the results of which will directly impact the NPDES permits on the Seacoast and inform a national discussion for shellfish programs.   

Congratulations, Chris!