“Sammie” isn’t Uncle Sam’s nickname, but it does represent him well.

The name is short for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, awarded each year to federal employees with impressive accomplishments. 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. He also was chairman of GAF Corp. and an astute businessman who understood the need for good government.

The Sammies honor him and the workers who make government good in so many ways. The partnership released the names of the award finalists as part of Public Service Recognition Week, which began Sunday.

“When you hear the breadth and variety of the Sammies finalists’ accomplishments, you understand why they deserve to be honored,” said Max Stier, president and chief executive of the partnership. “Federal employees excel in areas ranging from agriculture and food safety to education and public health. Their work not only serves this country, but countries and people around the world.”

That work saves lives.

Among the many accomplishments: improving tests for the toxicity of household and workplace chemicals, demonstrating that the body’s immune system can be used to fight cancer, protecting people from major earthquakes and battling Ebola in West Africa.

“Think about what’s going on in the world right now,” Stier said. “Public employees are on the front lines, responding to the disaster in Nepal, fighting the vestiges of Ebola in West Africa, negotiating nuclear treaties with world leaders — and even providing weather forecasts this morning.”

We don’t have room to profile everyone, so here are some details about a few:

●Griffin Rodgers is director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. People with sickle cell disease should give him a hug. He developed a drug that lessened their pain and oversaw a clinical trial using stem cell transplants that reversed the ailment in adults.

“As a researcher and leader of a lab, I get to tackle in a very hands-on way a health issue, sickle cell disease, that I’ve seen close friends face and die from,” Rodgers said in an e-mail. “And I get to help prevent other people’s friends and families from dying from sickle cell. I work with brilliant people, and together we’ve developed the first effective, FDA-approved therapy for sickle cell anemia, which now is also being used in children and infants.”

●Mia Beers helped beat back death in West Africa as the leader of the 40-person U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Ebola Disaster Assistance Response Team. She coordinated the work of five federal agencies in four countries.

“On a typical day,” she said, “I would hop on a helicopter with Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky to go see the Ebola treatment units that were being built, brief the U.S. ambassador, Debra Malac, on our activities, coordinate information with CDC, who had technical teams in the field and hear updates from the U.S. Public Health Service running the Monrovia Medical Unit, speak with Liberian emergency officials, meet with the U.N. and our NGO partners to get updates about our programs, share information and analysis on the evolving humanitarian situation in the field with Washington leadership, as well as support members of my team who were pulling in incredibly long hours to make things happen. The work was exhausting. But at the end of the day, I would still have energy for my most important meeting of the day — with my 2 1/2 -year-old son over Skype.”

●John Price, a program manager in the Department of Homeland Security, worked with NASA to develop a radar tool appropriately called FINDER — Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response. It was used in Nepal to help locate victims of the recent earthquake.

“I would absolutely recommend joining the federal government as an employee. No other occupation offers the breadth of experiences available through the federal government,” he said, adding that every federal position offers “a unique chance to help citizens and make a person’s life better.”

●Kevin L. Hannes and his colleagues in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Operation Precious Cargo Team were thrust into action when the flood of unaccompanied children from Central America began crossing the border last year. They organized an emergency operations center, established administrative procedures to better track cases, arranged for bilingual speakers and helped coordinate efforts to open new shelters at military installations, the partnership said.

Watching his team members interact with children in the Texas Rio Grande Valley last summer was a moving experience for Hannes. They comforted the children “by playing simple games with them, assisting with feeding them and teaching them simple English while the children taught them [FEMA members] Spanish,” he said in an e-mail. “Every last one stated it was the most rewarding work they have done, it had changed their lives and they felt that they had changed or started the change in the lives of the children they interacted with. It gave them perspective on how being an American is such a wonderful blessing. For me, it was a moment that really brings home the idea that one person (young or old) can have an impact on a generation.”

Here are all of the finalists and their categories:

Career Achievement Medal

Robert J. Kavlock, Environmental Protection Agency, Washington

Hyun Soon Lillehoj, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, Md.

Charles E. Milam, Defense Department, Washington

Steven A. Rosenberg, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

Call to Service Medal

Gretchen K. Campbell, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md.

Stephanie L. Hogan, EPA, Washington

Bridget Lynn Roddy, State Department, Washington

Adam R. Schildge, Federal Transit Administration, Washington

Citizen Services Medal

Lucile Jones, U.S. Geological Survey, Pasadena, Calif.

Constantine P. Sarkos, Federal Aviation Administration, Egg Harbor Township, N.J.

Kevin G. Stricklin and the Mine Emergency team, Labor Department, Arlington, Va.

John P. Wagner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Washington

Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Medal

Robert Bunge, Michael Gerber and the Wireless Emergency Alerts team, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, Md.

Anna M. Dozier, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Kansas City, Mo.

John B. Price, Department of Homeland Security, Washington

Ron Ross, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg

Management Excellence Medal

Kevin L. Hannes and the Operation Precious Cargo team, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Denton, Tex.

Edward C. Hugler, Labor Department, Washington

Susan S. Kelly and the Transition to Veterans Program Office, Defense Department, Arlington

Edward J. Ramotowski and the Consular Affairs team, State Department, Washington

Steven W. Zander, Air Force Department, Washington

National Security and International Affairs Medal

Mia Beers and the Ebola Disaster Assistance Response team, U.S. Agency for International Development, Washington

Natasha M. de Marcken, USAID, Washington

Timothy A. Blades, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Aberdeen, Md.; Paul S. Gilmour, U.S. Maritime Administration, Washington; and team

Peter A. Morrison and the Solid State Laser team, Navy Department, Arlington

Rob Thayer and the Syria Emergency Food Assistance team, USAID, Washington

Science and Environment Medal

Richard Alan Feely, NOAA, Seattle

Jacob E. Moss, EPA, Washington

Griffin P. Rodgers, NIH, Bethesda

Jean C. Zenklusen, Carolyn Hutter and the Cancer Genome Atlas team, NIH, Bethesda

Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at wapo.st/JoeDavidson.

Sammies Finalists

Here are all of the finalists and their categories:

Career Achievement Medal

Robert J. Kavlock, Environmental Protection Agency, Washington

Hyun Soon Lillehoj, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, Md.

Charles E. Milam, Defense Department, Washington

Steven A. Rosenberg, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

Call to Service Medal

Gretchen K. Campbell, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md.

Stephanie L. Hogan, EPA, Washington

Bridget Lynn Roddy, State Department of State, Washington

Adam R. Schildge, Federal Transit Administration, Washington

Citizen Services Medal

Lucile Jones, U.S. Geological Survey, Pasadena, Calif.

Constantine P. Sarkos, Federal Aviation Administration, Egg Harbor Township, N.J.

Kevin G. Stricklin and the Mine Emergency team, Labor Department, Arlington, Va.

John P. Wagner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Washington

Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Medal

Robert Bunge, Michael Gerber and the Wireless Emergency Alerts team, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, Md.

Anna M. Dozier, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Kansas City, Mo.

John B. Price, Department of Homeland Security, Washington

Ron Ross, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg

Management Excellence Medal

Kevin L. Hannes and the Operation Precious Cargo team, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Denton, Tex.

Edward C. Hugler, Labor Department, Washington

Susan S. Kelly and the Transition to Veterans Program Office, Defense Department, Arlington

Edward J. Ramotowski and the Consular Affairs team, State Department, Washington

Steven W. Zander, Air Force Department, Washington

National Security and International Affairs Medal

Mia Beers and the Ebola Disaster Assistance Response team, U.S. Agency for International Development, Washington

Natasha M. de Marcken, USAID, Washington

Timothy A. Blades, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Aberdeen, Md; Paul S. Gilmour, U.S. Maritime Administration, Washington; and team

Peter A. Morrison and the Solid State Laser team, Navy Department, Arlington

Rob Thayer and the Syria Emergency Food Assistance team, USAID, Washington

Science and Environment Medal

Richard Alan Feely, NOAA, Seattle

Jacob E. Moss, EPA, Washington

Griffin P. Rodgers, NIH, Bethesda

Jean C. Zenklusen, Carolyn Hutter and the Cancer Genome Atlas team, NIH, Bethesda