Histotech of the Year Through the Ages

NSH’s Histotech of the Year Award is the Society’s longest running award, dating back to 1975. Because of its long history, and the extensive list of impressive recipients, it is also the most prestigious of the many awards and scholarships NSH provides to its members. Though many in the Histotech of the Year club are no longer with us, there are plenty that are still deeply involved with the Society and the profession. We asked some of them to share their memories of the year they reigned as histotech of the year:

1988: Kerry Crabb

I do remember the 1988 NSH S/C. It was the first time the S/C was held in Louisville, KY. The meeting that year was in the Galt House Hotel.

I was extremely surprised and honored to receive the Histotechnologist of the Year award. Some previous award recipients I looked up to included Dezna Sheehan, Ken Urban and Billy Swisher. This group also include Dale Largent who I trained under and was my mentor. Dale also had been our first Region V Director. I am still honored to have the signatures of our then President John Ryan and Awards Committee Chair, Leonard Noble on my plaque. Both men I highly respected. There are many other outstanding recipients of this award that followed me, and I often wonder why they didn’t receive it prior to me.

I was not a Charter member of NSH but had been attending the S/C every year since 1978 (Oklahoma City, OK) except for 1979. I had gotten involved in our local Kansas City Society for Histotechnology while training, then the Missouri Society for Histotechnology, which led to becoming an officer (Secretary & President) in both of them along with coordinating the annual MHT conference (1980, 1982). My involvement in NSH grew with roles as Region V Director, 1984 S/C Coordinator, and Treasurer. The year of my award I was serving as House of Delegates Speaker and as Convention Committee Vice Chair.

The award was very nice but the best part was the networking and friends that I made each year at the Symposium/Convention.

1997: Janet Tunnicliffe

Attending the annual NSH banquet and waiting until the end of the awards presentations to find out who received the honor of Histotech of the year has always held a special excitement for me. Sometimes I think I am more excited than the actual recipient is. Therefore, it came as a great shock in 1997 in Columbus, Ohio, to listen to the description of the winner and have the description mirror my personal story.

I was working as the Charge Technologist in a pathology lab that I was fortunate enough to be able to design, select equipment and train staff to meet the needs of the growing 600-bed hospital. At the time, small independent histology labs started merging from community hospitals in to regionalized centers. This process led to my reaching out and coordinating pathology services with other histotechnologists, through education and sharing procedures. Immunohistochemistry had moved from manual procedures into semi-automated techniques with antigen retrieval still requiring off line processes.

Buying microwave ovens and steam pressure cookers involved convincing finance, that the equipment was not for the staff lunchroom, was one of the non-technical challenges. The IHC antibody list still fit on one printed page and did not require a digital link to a website to remind you what the name acronym stands for or what the target cell and staining pattern are. Digital Pathology was in its infancy and was one of the first projects I developed for a provincial wide standardized service, for Intraoperative Consultation and pathology diagnosis. For a profession that seemed to never change there continues to be great technical advances and challenges since 1997.

It is with great pride that I look at the plaque hung on my office wall and realize that I was the first and still only histotechnologist from outside of the United States to receive this prestigious award.

2006: Diane Sterchi

I was a great honor for me when I received the award. I was overwhelmed when I heard my name since I was preparing to take a picture of the person I thought was going to be the winner. I had to be told by the people at the table several times that my name was announced. The reason for my ignorance was that I had collected nomination letters for the award to be given to Gayle Callis, not knowing I too was nominated.

This award validated my leaving one career path and choosing a career in histotechnology. I always thought of histotechnology as not only a great career but as an educational hobby. Ever since I started to work part time in histology at the local hospital, I was immersed into expanding my education from degrees in Chemistry and Zoology to everything in histotechnology.

My supervisor, Head Pathologist at the hospital, saw the excitement I had in learning histotechnology. He gave me the utmost opportunity to be a histotechnologist and love the work. He made arrangements for me to be trained by Lee Luna and paid for it, not using hospital funds. This was just a start at the education he provided for me.

I know he would be as proud and honored as I was receiving this award. I wish he had been there for it.


The deadline for 2019 nominations for Histotech of the Year is May 31st.

Submit your nomination to recognize another fantastic histologist at this year's Awards Banquet in New Orleans, LA.

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