Laboratory Safety Institute Graduate Research Faculty Safety Award

Download the Nomination Application Form for this Award Here: [Click to Download LSI Grad Research Faculty Safety Nomination Form]

Statement of Award Purpose

This award is given to recognize graduate-level academic research faculty who demonstrate outstanding commitment to chemical health and safety in their laboratories.

Award Amount and Recognition

  • Up to $1,000 to support travel expenses to attend the ACS national meeting and deliver a 15 – 20 min presentation at the CHAS Awards Symposium, and/or a grant to be used for safety enhancements in the faculty member’s research group
  • Engraved plaque including name of recipient and sponsor logo to be presented to winner at award symposium
  • Award certificate mailed to the university president.

This award is made possible by the generosity of The Laboratory Safety Institute.

Description of Eligible Nominees

Eligible nominees are faculty members who have responsibility for a graduate-level research laboratory, and who demonstrate values and behaviors consistent with the criteria of this award. The faculty member’s laboratory may be part of any academic department at the institution, provided that chemical use is a significant part of the laboratory’s research. Detailed criteria provided below.

One award is given per year.

Award Criteria

Sets Safety-Compliance Expectations:

Enforces all institutional health and safety practices, protocols, and rules within his or her laboratory space.

  • Participates in formal laboratory inspections and group safety committee meetings.
  • Maintains safety in the laboratory by conducting unannounced walk-throughs.
  • Ensures all members of the research group and visitors (including vendors and contractors) read, understand, agree to follow, and realize the consequences of not following the safety rules.
  • Actively demonstrates his/her commitment to laboratory health and safety.
  • Personally provides a “new employee/student safety orientation” for each new member of the research group.

Monitors and Provides Safety Information and Training:

Insists that everyone who works in the lab receives comprehensive, lab-specific safety information and training.

  • Ensures students and others who work in his or her research lab are educated, informed, and trained in the safety skills they need to conduct research safely and to work independently.
  • Establishes coaching and mentoring relationships to enable new researchers to receive hands-on training in safety practices from more experienced researchers.
  • Requires a structured lab-orientation, including emergency information and safety rules, for new lab workers.
  • Annually and as needed, reviews and revises the lab safety manual and chemical hygiene plan (if separate from the lab safety manual).

Models Safe Behaviors:

Serves as a role model by personally exhibiting good safety behavior.

  • Wears proper lab attire and PPE when entering laboratories or handling research materials.
  • Completes, at a minimum, the same institutional safety training requirements as lab workers and signs the group’s rules agreement.
  • Personally proposes new safety initiatives and/or shares safety best practices with the department and/or Health and Safety department.
  • Actively participates in research group or department safety committees and Joint Safety Teams.
  • Includes safety information in published research and requires it in their students’ thesis proposals and thesis defenses.

Assesses Hazards and Evaluates Risks:

Ensures that lab members complete hazard analyses prior to conducting experimental procedures.

  • Identifies the hazards, types of emergencies that could occur, and what needs to be done to be prepared for them.
  • Implements prudent practices, protective facilities, and PPE needed to minimize risk
  • Reviews new laboratory procedures for potential risks.
  • Requires hazard analyses to be incorporated into lab notebooks prior to an experiment.
  • Expects hazard analysis to be included in thesis proposals, dissertation proposals, and published research.
  • Requires hazard analysis to be revisited if an experimental procedure yields unexpected results or if the procedure requires changes before conducting the experiment.

Creates Safety Leaders:

Empowers researchers to assume leadership roles in establishing safety practices within research groups and for entire departments.

  • Encourages lab members to participate in department safety committees or Joint Safety Teams.
  • Encourages lab members to propose new safety initiatives and/or share safety best practices with the department and/or Health and Safety department.
  • Rewards good safety performance.

Promotes Positive Safety Culture:

Takes actions to encourage safety and promote a strong, positive safety culture in the research lab.

  • Provides instruction and encouragement to lab members for reporting any incident no matter how minor and injuries.
  • Fosters a nonthreatening atmosphere for free expression of safety concerns or questions.
  • Provides ample budgetary support for safety supplies such as PPE and engineering controls.
  • Recognizes that psychological stress can undermine safety culture and performance.
  • Provides and encourages lab members to take advantage of resources for stress management.
  • Encourages open and ongoing dialog about safety.
  • Requires “safety moments” at laboratory group meetings or otherwise incorporate safety into research discussions.
  • Encourages and acknowledges lab members for working safely.
  • Accepts responsibility for safety.
  • Takes initiative to reduce waste and promote greener, more sustainable research practices in his or her lab.

Required support for nomination

The nomination must include a cover letter from the nominator describing why the nominee is deserving of this award. The letter shall describe the nominees work and how it is aligned with the purpose, eligibility, and criteria of the award.

The nomination must also include a letter of support from the institution’s Environmental Health and Safety Officer, as well as, a letter of support from a senior administrator such as the head of the academic department, the vice provost for research, or the dean of the school or college. In cases when the nominator (author of the cover letter) is a member of the Environment Health and Safety office or a senior administrator, an additional letter of support from that party is not required.

Individuals writing letters of support are not required to be members of the American Chemical Society or the Division of Chemical Health and Safety. The supporter’s contact information must be included in the letter. The support letter should clearly describe the impact of the nominee’s work and how the individual has met the purpose and criteria of the award.

Site visit criteria (if applicable)

A site visit will not be required for this award.

What, if any, involvement will the sponsor have in evaluating nominees?

The sponsor will serve as a reviewer of the nominations for this award. The sponsor’s evaluation will be given no more or less weight than the evaluations of the other members of the Awards Selection Subcommittee.

Eligible Sources of Nominations

  • Self-nomination
  • Subordinate (Student/lab member)
  • Department chair
  • EH&S Department
  • Vice Provost for Research or another Senior Administrator
  • Peer

Additional Information about this Award

This award was proposed in 2018 by James Kaufmann, Ph.D. (Founder, Laboratory Safety Institute), and was developed in collaboration with Dr. Kaufmann by the CHAS Awards Committee in 2019. The award was first given in 2020. Criteria for the award were derived primarily from the following sources of academic laboratory safety guidelines:

  1. National Research Council. 2014. Safe Science: Promoting a Culture of Safety in Academic Chemical Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/18706.
  2. ACS Joint Board/Council Committee on Chemical Safety. 2012. Creating Safety Cultures in Academic Institutions: A Report of the Safety Culture Task Force of the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety. Washington, DC: American Chemical Society. https://www.acs.org/content/dam/acsorg/about/governance/committees/chemicalsafety/academic-safety-culture-report.pdf
  3. Laboratory Safety Guidelines: 40 Suggestions for a Safer Lab, James A. Kaufman, Laboratory Safety Institute, https://www.labsafety.org/resource

Previous Winners

2021: Ian Albert Tonks, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
2020: Mahesh K. Mahanthappa, Ph.D., University of Minnesota