New techniques to detect and stop terrorist-made explosives, a halt to the spread of a wildlife epidemic, a new generation of personal protective equipment to make construction workers safe, reduced medical errors — these are some of the accomplishments of the federal employees nominated for this year’s prestigious civil service awards, the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal.

Heyman was the founder of the Partnership for Public Service and served as chairman from its start in September 2001 until his death in November 2009. The Sammies honor him and the federal employees singled out for groundbreaking work. This is the competition’s 15th year.

This year’s winners will be announced September 20. Here’s a list of the 32 finalists and their accomplishments

Career Achievement Medal:

  • Kathleen B. Hogan, Department of Energy, for developing and expanding national energy efficiency initiatives that have reduced greenhouse gas emissions and saved money.
  • Hongwei Hsiao, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, for improving safety of construction workers, truck drivers and others in high-risk professions with a new generation of personal protective equipment and industrial apparatus.
  • James D. McFadden, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for running the hurricane hunter program, flying airplanes into hundreds of violent tropical storms to gather information for more accurate weather forecasts.
  • Thomas Gordon Morris, Small Business Administration, for overhauling a program that now generates $6 billion in private investments annually.
  • Dr. Allen Wilcox, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, for pioneering the epidemiologic study of human reproduction and changing both scientific and public understanding of fertility and pregnancy.

Call to Service Medal (employees 35 or younger):

  • Jenn Gustetic, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, for tapping into citizen knowledge and expertise to solve problems through crowd-sourcing.
  • Tate A. Jarrow, U.S. Secret Service, for playing a critical role in two cybercrime investigations involving computer hacking, stock manipulation, credit card fraud, money laundering and other illicit activities.
  • Lilia McFarland, Department of Agriculture, for leading an inter-agency initiative to help build the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
  • Catherine Michelle Pappas, Department of the Air Force, for providing rapid analysis and advice to military commanders and policymakers on developments in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
  • Jessica Hall Zomer, Environmental Protection Agency, for helping craft a power plant regulation that will eliminate one-third of toxic heavy metals now dumped into the nation’s rivers, lakes and streams by regulated industries.

Citizen Services Medal:

  • Lisa M. Jones, program manager, Department of the Treasury, for helping low-income communities gain access to investment capital to fund health-care centers, charter schools, and other projects.
  • Dr. Paul McGann, Jean D. Moody-Williams and Dennis Wagner,  Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, for reducing preventable patient harm in U.S. hospitals.
  • Mariela Melero and the Customer Service and Public Engagement Directorate, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, for making immigration resources more accessible and user-friendly.
  • Joseph J. Mueller, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, for preventing the collapse of a major dam that threatened the lives and property of thousands of residents and business owners downstream.
  • Dr. Thomas O’Toole, Veterans Health Administration, for creating two nationwide programs to help high-risk, high-need homeless veterans.

Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Medal:

  • Ajay Bhatt, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, for tracking down 70 human rights violators living illegally in the U.S.
  • Anne Barker Dunn, deputy director Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Justice Program Team, for reducing recidivism among veterans caught up in the criminal justice system.
  • Edward Grace, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for a national investigation to arrest and prosecute numerous people who profited from smuggling and illegally selling rhino horns and elephant tusks.
  • Thomas A. Mariani, Jr., Steven O’Rourke and Sarah D. Himmelhoch, Department of Justice, for securing a record $20.8 billion legal settlement against BP for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Richard May, Department of the Treasury, for using underused authorities to expose drug cartels and other money-laundering schemes.

Management Excellence Medal:

  • William Gregory Burel, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for his management of the $7 billion national stockpile of emergency medicines and medical supplies.
  • Patricia Dehmer, Department of Energy, for transforming and expanding its state-of-the-art research laboratories.
  • Dr. Burke Healey, Department of Agriculture, for halting the spread of the avian flu, the largest animal disease outbreak in U.S. history.
  • Kimya Lee, Office of Personnel Management, for turning a government-wide survey into an effective tool for managers to better understand employee views of the workplace.

National Security and International Affairs Medal: 

  • John Pallister and the Volcano Disaster Assistance Team, U.S. Geological Survey, for strengthening volcano readiness and warning systems worldwide.
  • Daniel Patt, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, for developing a cutting -edge system that allows U.S. warfighters to strike their intended targets faster and with greater accuracy.
  • Carrie Stokes, U.S. Agency for International Development, for using satellite data and geographic information to fight poverty.
  • Kirk Yeager, Federal Bureau of Investigation, for work on detecting terrorist-made explosives, as the agency’s premier bomb expert.

Science and Environment Medal 

  • Christopher D. Doley, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for crafting a plan to repair the damage to waterways, land, fish and wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
  • David A. Hindin, Environmental Protection Agency, for spearheading the EPA’s use of advanced pollution monitoring technology.
  • Jaques Reifman and the APPRAISE Team at U.S Army Medical Research and Materiel Command for developing an artificial intelligence system for medics to quickly detect if severely injured patients in transit are hemorrhaging.
  • Dennis C. Reuter and the LEISA Team, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, for developing an instrument for NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft that revealed startling new information about Pluto.