Alumnus retires after 32 years of service to U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine
Dr. Michael Sawka ’73 M’74 began his career at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) 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.
After graduating from ESU, Sawka earned a Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Ill., in 1977. 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.
During his 30-year career, Sawka published more than 300 full-length manuscripts, book chapters, 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. Additionally, he was also the commencement speaker at ESU’s winter 2002 commencement.
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.
Sawka was the chair of the NATO Research Task Group on Thermal Management for Health & Performance from 2009-12 and the environmental section editor for Comprehensive Physiology. Sawka has been awarded a number of patents for his research, including a patent for the Body Thermoregulation Using Skin Temperature Feedback.
Sawka was awarded ESU Alumni Association’s Helen G. Brown Honor Award in 2001. He 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. Sawka will retire to Georgia with his wife Dixie, and plans to spend time with his family. He has two sons and one grandchild.
(Article by Kelly Sullivan, published with photo, courtesy of USARIEM)