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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – NSF, a global public health and safety organization, and the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), representing more than 6,000 members of the environmental health workforce, announced today that Captain (CAPT) Luis O. Rodriguez, MS, REHS/RS, CP-FS, CPO, DAAS, is the 2022 recipient of the Walter F. Snyder Environmental Health Award. CAPT Rodriguez, a Senior Environmental Health Specialist for the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) assigned to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will receive the award on June 30 at the 2022 NEHA Annual Education Conference. He has dedicated his career of more than 20 years to safeguarding environmental health and safety.
“It is an incredible honor to be recognized by my peers and be part of those professionals seeking to improve environmental health services across the nation,” said Rodriguez.
The Snyder Award was created in 1971 in honor of Walter F. Snyder, co-founder and first executive director of NSF. Presented by NSF and NEHA, it is awarded annually to individuals who continue Snyder’s legacy through outstanding contributions to environmental and public health.
“From improving emergency preparedness to strengthening environmental health programs nationwide, Luis has spent his entire career demonstrating his commitment to improving and protecting public health,” said Pedro Sancha, President and CEO of NSF. “We have witnessed Luis’ dedication firsthand at NSF through his active participation on the NSF Joint Committee of Food Equipment and NSF Council of Public Health Consultants. His efforts and support have had a lasting value and positive impact on public health and safety. Through these achievements and many more, Luis has proved himself worthy of the Walter F. Snyder Award.”
For the past two decades, CAPT Rodriguez has served in fundamental roles addressing environmental hazards and improving environmental health services. In his role at the CDC, he leads efforts to modernize the national environmental health workforce by helping state and local health departments improve the collection, integration, dissemination and use of data related to environmental health services.
Through his extensive work in vessel sanitation, CAPT Rodriguez helped prevent the introduction of acute gastroenteritis into the U.S. from cruise ships sailing from foreign to domestic ports since 2010. He directed more than 3,000 operational and construction inspections, numerous outbreak surveillance and investigations, more than 50 training seminars for cruise ship managers, and, most recently, served on deployments to address the COVID-19 pandemic. He regularly collaborates with numerous partners, including NSF, NEHA, Conference of Food Protection, and state jurisdictions to improve environmental health.
“Luis has established an impressive track record of consensus-building and servant leadership throughout his career in environmental health, both in the United States and beyond,” said David T. Dyjack, Dr.PH, CIH, Executive Director and CEO of NEHA. “Most recently, his leadership has been leveraged through a total of four CDC deployments to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic in cruise ships, emergency intake sites and more. Luis continues to be called upon by our nation in recognition of his expertise in environmental health, vessel sanitation, and emergency preparedness and response.”
In his previous role at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), CAPT Rodriguez oversaw the manufacturing and processing of FDA-regulated products, responded to multiple national disasters, and served as a program expert for international food and bioresearch monitoring inspections. His efforts ensuring FDA-regulated products were safe for consumers, recalling unsafe products from the market, and responding to emergencies earned him great recognition.
CAPT Rodriguez has received numerous awards for his leadership and commitment to environmental health. He most recently received a USPHS Outstanding Service Medal as well as the National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry’s Excellence in Quantitative Sciences Award. He was also nominated for the USPHS Environmental Health Officer Advisory Committee’s (EHOPAC) Ted Moran Award. He was recently promoted to USPHS Captain, effective July 1, 2022.
In addition to his roles with USPHS and CDC, CAPT Rodriguez serves as a NEHA technical advisor on emergency preparedness and peer reviewer and author of the NEHA Journal of Environmental Health; voting member of NSF’s Joint Committee of Food Equipment and Council of Public Health Consultants; member of the Commissioned Officer Association Board of Directors; member of the Hispanic Officers Advisory Committee (HOAC); and mentor for CDC, HOAC, and EHOPAC. He holds a BA in science and education and an MS in environmental health from the University of Puerto Rico, as well as PhD studies in public health from Walden University.
Snyder Award nominations are open to the public with recipients selected by a juror panel of environmental health leaders.