STAR Lab receives Innovation Award of Honor

Interactive, hands-on lab reshapes traditional laboratory training, receives national recognition

The EH&S team behind the STAR Lab curriculum is (L-R) Ben Owens, Luis Barthel-Rosa, Marty Schwender, Brock Young, Cheston Carpenter and Chad Stephens


7/12/2017 | By: Connie  Voong |

Earlier this year, Environmental Health & Safety debuted the Safety Training for Academic Research Lab (STAR Lab) and the University of Nevada, Reno became one of the first institutions to dedicate a campus laboratory solely to safety training. Laboratory training is traditionally taught through lectures or reading assignments, but the STAR Lab demonstrates exceptional commitment towards safe laboratory practices through innovative, group-oriented and hands-on training methods.

In its first year of development, the STAR Lab has been chosen as the recipient of the Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) Innovation Award of Honor. The award will be presented at the 64th CSHEMA Annual Conference in Tucson, Arizona on Friday, July 14, 2017. The CSHEMA Innovation Award recognizes outstanding and innovative achievements of higher education institutions in process improvement, resource enhancement and safety culture. EH&S staff members Benjamin Owens and Cheston Carpenter will present a technical session on the development of the hands-on training facility. STAR Lab instructional team member, Brock Young, will also be presenting at the conference.

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Members from the CSHEMA Awards and Recognition Committee, as well as a representative from the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, evaluated the award nominees' ability to improve health and safety concerns, the cost and method of implementation, organization and presentation of material, and adaptability of the program to other institutions.

"Some people do a lot better with hands-on kinds of training," Ben Owens said of the STAR Lab concept. "Lab safety is applied knowledge. It's not enough to know it, you have to do it."

"As Ben Franklin said, 'Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.' The faculty and staff of the Environmental Health & Safety Department and the Office of Research and Innovation want the institution's greatest resources, its faculty, staff and students, to be involved in their own safety," Stephanie Woolf, EH&S director, said in her letter supporting the STAR Lab nomination.

The STAR Lab training curriculum was developed by EH&S staff members Benjamin Owens, assistant director of laboratory safety; Luis Barthel-Rosa, manager of chemical management services; Chet Carpenter, laboratory safety specialist; Marty Schwender, program officer of regulated waste programs; Chad Stephens, manager of regulated waste programs; and Brock Young, training manager. The curriculum is taught by EH&S personnel who strive to build trust and prompt discussions regarding safety concerns.

"The STAR Lab demonstrates the creativity and commitment of these EH&S team members," Charlene Hart, assistant vice president for research administration in the Research & Innovation division, said. "It is a pleasure to see their concept achieve national recognition."

The STAR Lab is located in the Applied Research Facility in room 301. For more information regarding training requirements, courses offered by EH&S and the STAR Lab Curriculum, visit https://www.unr.edu/ehs/program-areas/training/laboratory-safety-training

The EH&S provides leadership and various services that facilitate a safe and healthy environment for University faculty, staff and students, ensures compliance with standards and regulations and promotes environmental sustainability. 

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