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Posted: February 1, 2008
University of Tennessee professor appointed chairman of EPA committee
(Nanowerk News) University of Tennessee (UT) professor Gary Sayler, a distinguished professor in microbiology and the director of UT-ORNL Joint Institute for Biological Sciences, will now make recommendations to the Environmental Protection Agency as the chairman of its executive committee of the Board of Scientific Counselors.
Sayler has served on the executive committee for about four years. Since the previous chairman of the committee was approaching the end of his term, the EPA started searching for another to fill his shoes.
“Apparently (the) EPA was looking for someone who had experience, and they decided I fit all of that criteria,” Sayler said. The assistant administrator of the EPA appointed Sayler chairman of the committee.
The responsibilities of chairman include organizing committee members, helping the EPA name new members and drafting reports of review outcomes involving human health and environmental protection issues.
“I’m in charge of putting review reports together that go to EPA science administrators of the Office of Research and Development,” said Sayler. Several subcommittees do the analysis that is then transferred to the executive committee for development. The chairman sends the review to EPA and informs them of the outcome and makes recommendations.
“We’re principally considered to be a federal advising committee as it’s trying to meet its goals and try(ing) to give the best possible advice without bias,” Sayler said of the committe. The committee makes sure the EPA can do its job — protecting the environment and human health. “We try to make sure the research is of (the) highest quality and most important,” Sayler added.
When asked about the committee’s responsibilities, Sayler said, “the committee is largely involved in developing program reviews to do an analysis to determine whether the research programs are helping (the) EPA meet its Congressional mandates, Presidential directives and statutory responsibilities.” The committee decides if the work is “high quality,” and if research is solving the problems and meeting the needs of society and government.
The committee, according to Sayler, carries out functional activities.
“Basically the executive committee listens to the status of some of our project reviews, and when the final reports come to the committee, we get an EPA response to (the) committee’s findings and recommendations,” said Sayler.
The executive committee meets four times a year in places like Washington, National Labs and Research Centers and other EPA regions.
“The next committee meeting will likely be at the EPA facilities in Gulf Breeze, Fla., where we will evaluate the research goals and objectives of the agency in several (research and development) programs,” said Sayler.
UT has an advantage in the “national and international arena” Sayler said. “I think it’s good for the university. It’s kind of a reflection that the university has strong environmental programs.” Programs such as “Make Orange Green,” a UT initiative to encourage students, faculty and staff to recycle more and conserve energy, and billboards demanding not to “Throw Down on K-town” show that UT and Knoxville care about the environment.
The executive committee also examines homeland security and applications for nanotechnology for future research.
“In every respect we’re prospective,” Sayler said, “We try to be anticipatory and do program reviews where some of the current research and environmental problems will be occurring and whether we need to do reviews sooner rather than later.”
Sara Surak, public relations manager for the Facilities Services, said she is proud of Sayler’s accomplishments. “This appointment means a lot to Dr. Sayler, but also to UT Knoxville,” Surak said. “It shows that our environmental expertise on campus runs all the way from our Make Orange Green program to positions that influence the environmental policy of our entire nation.”