After 32 years of service, Natick researcher says farewell
January 3, 2013
After more than 30 years of service to the U.S. Army, one of our own has retired.
Dr. Michael N. Sawka began his career at U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine as a research physiologist in 1980. He then became chief of the Thermal Physiology and Medicine Division in 1990 and chief of the Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division in 1996. Sawka served as division chief of Thermal and Mountain Medicine until retirement.
Sawka received a bachelor of science and a master of science from the East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, Pa., in 1973 and 1974, respectively. He then earned a Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Ill., in 1977. Finally, he was a post-doctoral fellow for the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio, in 1978. Prior to his work at USARIEM, Sawka worked as an assistant professor for the Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Wright State University, in Dayton, Ohio, from 1979--1980.
Over his 30-year career, Sawka published more than 300 full-length manuscripts, book chapters, and reports and edited graduate textbooks on environmental physiology and exercise physiology. He presented more than 80 invited symposia and keynote lectures at national and international scientific meetings.
Sawka has also served many leadership roles throughout his career. From 2002-05, Sawka was the chair of the Water Task Group for the National Academy of Science, Institute of Medicine, Panel for Reference Intakes for Fluid & Electrolytes, in Washington, D.C. He then served as elected chair for the Environmental and Exercise Physiology section from 2007-10. He was a founding member of the Partnership for Clean Competition Scientific Advisory Board from 2008-present. He was also the commencement speaker at the East Stroudsburg University winter graduation in 2002.
Sawka was also the chair of the NATO Research Task Group on Thermal Management for Health & Performance from 2009-12. Sawka is also the environmental section editor for "Comprehensive Physiology." Sawka has also been awarded a number of patents for his research, including a patent for the Body Thermoregulation Using Skin Temperature Feedback.
Sawka's awards include the 2001 Alumni Honor Award from East Stroudsburg University. He also received the Military Medical Merit Medallion from the Order of Military Medical Merit and U.S. Army Medical Department in 2005. Other awards include the Superior Civilian Service Award and the Citation Award from American College of Sports Medicine. At his farewell ceremony, Sawka was awarded the Meritorious Civilian Service Award for his more than 32 years of federal service and dedication to the U.S. Army.
During his farewell, Sawka showed his gratitude for the co-workers and employees he has been with throughout the years and wished them well for the future.
"I want to thank everyone in the USARIEM family for the pleasure of having worked with you for the past 30-plus years," Sawka said. "I greatly enjoy working at USARIEM. Keep up your exceptional productivity."
Sawka will retire to Georgia with his wife Dixie and plans to spend time with his family. He has two sons, Nicholas and Ethan and one grandchild, Gabriella (Gaby).