Presidential Safety Award

The Presidential Safety Award is awarded to individuals or groups that have made significant accomplishment in improving safety at Purdue University.  The award is presented at the annual safety chair meeting.  The President or his designee will present a plaque to the individual or group in recognition of the safety achievement.


Nominations are accepted at any time but must be received by no later than six weeks prior to the annual safety chair meeting to be considered for that year.  Nominations will be reviewed by the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Award Committee with final approval by the Senior Director of EHS.

Criteria and Eligibility

The selection for the Presidential Safety Award will be based on the following criteria:

  1. New or innovative methods for the implementation of safety.
  2. Excellence in safety program implementation.
  3. Demonstrated improvement in a safety program.
  4. Personal leadership in safety.
  5. Consistent safety performance over time.

All faculty, staff, and students are eligible for this award.

Click here for the nomination form.

2023 Presidential Safety Award Winners

Professor Kendra Erk, Associate Professor of Materials Engineering - Prof. Kendra Erk has been the Faculty Chair of the School of Materials Engineering Safety Committee since 2018. In this role, Prof. Erk has developed and led the implementation of new safety initiatives in MSE. These initiatives have successfully streamlined the communication of safety issues and best practices within MSE to maintain a constant dialog about safety among all MSE students, faculty, and staff. Specifically, Prof. Erk instituted the first all-school safety survey and townhall event in 2019 as an efficient and effective way to solicit feedback from MSE personnel working in over seven different buildings across Purdue’s West Lafayette campus. Prof. Erk has strengthened the school’s relationship with Purdue EHS in both informal and formal ways, including hosting an EHS-led educational seminar on the lifecycle of hazardous waste (from pick-up to processing to fueling a cement kiln!). Since 2019, Prof. Erk created and has personally authored the bi-monthly MSE Safety & Equipment Newsletter which is sent to all MSE personnel and addresses a wide range of topics from fume hood best practices to COVID vaccination guidance to wintertime safety. She also encourages student- and staff-led safety initiatives including the creation of a safety bulletin board in Armstrong Hall of Engineering (undergraduate students), the new “Chemical Spill Drill” scenario-based training events (graduate students), and the adoption of emergency code words (administrative staff). Lastly, Prof. Erk has overseen the successful execution of the Integrated Safety Plan and Annual Indemnification Process for MSE since 2018, spanning the tenure of three MSE safety technicians.


Prof. Kendra Erk, Eric Butt

Mr. Shane Haselby - Over the past year Shane Haselby has been instrumental in transforming Building Services safety culture, helping their staff become more comfortable sharing issues and more collaborative in working together to make effective corrections.

Shane accomplished this through:

  • Being a consistent voice across all shifts and areas – bridging the gaps between groups
  • Leading efforts in developing our safety management system
  • Multiple meetings with employees, leadership, and EHS to help provide a new message
  • Meeting 1:1 with employees and leaders to help demonstrate being a safety leader and easing concerns
  • Working with leadership to ensure issues are addressed building employee confidence and trust

Today, Building Services serves as a commendable model of an effective and positive safety culture, leading to a continued decrease in recorded injuries. It stands as a valuable reference point for other Administrative Operations departments to gauge their adherence to AO's guiding principles of safety.


Shane Haselby, Eric Butt

2022 Presidential Safety Award Winners

Dr. Matthew Swabey - Dr. Matthew Swabey has been a key member of the College of Engineering Safety Committee for 5 years.  We have come to count on Matthew for his expertise with safe disposal of batteries – a presentation he has given to our committee multiple times.

In addition to his service on the COE Safety Committee, Matthew is Director of the Bechtel Innovation Design Center (BIDC).  Since the Center’s opening in 2016, Matthew has built a model safety culture at BIDC.  His innovative use of tools like Passport Badges to provide training for all the center users demonstrates his ability to find tools to solve problems.  Not only has he established a solid safety culture at BIDC, but he constantly works to improve facility safety by introducing new tools / techniques and improving training content and operating procedures.  For example, he and his team developed a system that requires users to scan their PUID before using equipment; a red or green light on the interface indicates the users’ training status (green indicates user is authorized to work on the machine).  This system makes checking safety status throughout the building much easier. 

2022 Presidential Safety Award Winner
Dr. Matthew Swabey, Eric Butt

Mr. Bill Schoenlein - Bill Schoenlein began working at Purdue in the 1970's and has worn many "safety" hats over the years. Currently, he is working as a Preclinical Studies Manager in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and serves as BME's safety committee chair, building safety coordinator, contact for the ISP Program, and a member of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). In each of these roles, there is a safety component of Bill's responsibilities to ensure that facilities are hazard free and that people have a safe working environment in Martin Jischke Hall. At any given time, Bill is the Principal Investigator on over 25 active research protocols, supervises a team of Veterinary/Animal Technicians, and provides standard operating procedures on a variety of tasks that ensure important research is conducted in a safe and consistent manner. Bill's personal leadership in safety at Purdue has spanned decades and he has been involved with innovative studies throughout. A memorable project, that we all have available to us today, is the testing of algorithms used for cardiac defibrillation that were integrated into the Automated External Defibrillator (Harper, 2013). Let's all recognize and thank Bill for his commitment to safety and his contributions to our access to life saving devices like the AED!

2022 Presidential Safety Award Winner 2
Bill Schoenlein, Eric Butt

Dr. Shaneka Lawson - Dr. Shaneka Lawson is a 2011 graduate of Purdue’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. Upon graduation, she was offered employment as a Research Plant Physiologist by the USDA Forest Service with an office here on campus within FNR. In 2015, Shaneka took over management of Pfen258, formerly a Tissue Culture lab, and now acts as a Genomics, Physiology, and Plant Pathology research lab. She spent many weekends and her free time transforming the lab from a cluttered dusty mess to the clean and organized space it is today. Shaneka completely overhauled the space and rearranged the area to be more conductive to research. The breadth of the work is not truly apparent unless someone was familiar with the lab in its prior condition. Regardless, the use of clear storage bins and labels has made the laboratory much brighter and more inviting. Also, as signage is fairly expensive, Shaneka took it upon herself to create professional signs in PowerPoint that are displayed throughout the lab and on the external doors. In addition to cleaning, organizing, and creating signage, Shaneka also updated the laboratory’s safety plans, generated an accurate chemical inventory, downloaded and printed the newest SDS forms for each chemical, and performs weekly chores to keep the space running smoothly. She serves as an active participant on the Forest Service and Purdue FNR safety committees and handles all lab related concerns such as inspections and maintenance while performing her role as a Primary Investigator in FNR and for the USDA. When informed of the award, Dr. Lawson was extEHSely excited and grateful that her endless hours of free time spent updating and shaping the lab are appreciated. Shaneka is currently at a conference in Baltimore, MD but has extended her sincere thanks for being considered for this award and is truly humbled by the honor.

2022 Presidential Safety Award Winner

Dr. Shaneka Lawson, Eric Butt

2019 Presidential Safety Award Winner  

Dr. Gabriela Nagy, Industrial Education Director, Chemical Engineering - After joining the School in February 2013, she implemented changes to the existing safety program that led to a more safety aware community and safer work practices in the lab. Some of her accomplishments are:
- Introduced the "Safety Moment" at the beginning of each Graduate Seminar (April 2018)
- Re-invigorated the ChE safety committee by recruiting two new graduate student members every year.
- Developed and implemented online yearly safety refresher training (2015) and an efficient training procedure for all ChE undergraduate research students.
- Introduced (2014) the yearly ChE Excellence in Safety Award to recognize graduate students' commitment to safety.
- Initiated the development of the ChE Specific Safety Policies, including the "One glove policy" which restricts the use of chemical resistant safety gloves to specific areas of FRNY (2015).
- Introduced monthly unannounced safety inspections of ChE labs (2016) to promote safe work practices.
- Shares safety incidents and near misses with the School, as a way of learning from these events and to prevent similar situations from happening.
- Introduced, developed and taught a new, in-house "Safety in ChE" course for first-year ChE graduate students (2015).
- Coordinates the activities for the Chemical Engineers for Safety Seminars (ChESS) graduate student led safety education program.

2017 Presidential Safety Award Winner John Howarter, Assistant Professor of Materials Engineering
Carol Shelby, Gabriela Nagy and Christopher Agnew

2018 Presidential Safety Award Winners

Ravi Joshi, Chemical Engineering Graduate Student - Recognized for active participation in a culture of safety in the laboratory.  In particular he has served as safety officer, and on the School of Chemical Engineering Safety Committee. He continues to be a champion for safety by serving as a role model and organizing safety seminars.  He has also been awarded the 2016 Chemical Engineering Excellence in Safety Award and the 2017 Award for Outstanding Service in Chemical Engineering.  He currently serves on the University-wide Chemical and Laboratory Safety Committee. 

2018 Presidential Safety Award Winner
Christopher Agnew, Carol Shelby and Ravi Joshi

Bindley Bioscience Center Safety Committee - The Bindley Bioscience Center Safety Committee led by Susan McCreery has been proactive in fostering a culture of safety.  The committee ensures that staff receive the appropriate training prior to allowing laboratory access.  The committee also acts to address identified safety issues promptly and maintain certification in the Integrated Safety Plan.

2018 Presidential Safety Award Winner 2
Christopher Agnew, Carol Shelby and Susan McCreery on behalf of the Bindley Bioscience Safety Committee

2017 Presidential Safety Award Winner

Professor John Howarter, Assistant Professor of Materials Engineering - John has served on the MSE Safety Committee in 2012; he initiated a new program with the MSE graduate students to form their own safety committee.  As the faculty advisor for grad/undergrad MSE student organizations he has been the leader in building and maintaining workplace safety culture from students, faculty and staff. He continues to demonstrate personal leadership in expanding the safety culture by ensuring effective transitions of key responsibilities to new faculty and staff. Aligning MSE with R.E.M. and has allowed MSE to be responsive to changes in university safety policy. Under John's leadership our safety audit and incident record has improved while we have TRIPLED the number of lab users. 

2017 Presidential Safety Award Winner John Howarter, Assistant Professor of Materials Engineering
Carol Shelby (Senior Director EHPS) and John Howarter

2015 Presidential Safety Award Winners

Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering (LORRE) - Under the leadership of Xingya (Linda) Liu, the committee has been proactive in fostering a culture of safety.  The committee sends out regular safety bulletins to ensure that safety EHSains a top priority.  The committee consults frequently with EHS to resolve any potential safety issues.  LORRE is certified in the ISP program .

From left to right: Barron Hewetson, Thomas Kreke, Xingya (Linda) Liu, Michael Ladisch, Nathan Mosier
Barron Hewetson, Thomas Kreke, Xingya (Linda) Liu, Michael Ladisch, Nathan Mosier


Viktor Cybulskis, Chemical Engineering Graduate Student - Recognized for initiation of a culture of safety and professionalism in the laboratory.  In particular he led the safety review for hydrofluoric acid use, served as safety officer, and provides ongoing safety support to his group.  Active in safety, Viktor participates in the School of Chemical Engineering Safety Committee and has developed a management-of-change and hazard evaluation process.

From left to right: Suresh Garimella, Viktor Cybulskis, Jim Schweitzer
Suresh Garimella, Viktor Cybulskis, Jim Schweitzer


Wiley Dining Court - Recognized for implementation of a cut resistant gloves program in Wiley Dining Hall which has dramatically reduced cut injuries.  When initially faced with employee resistance and implementation difficulties Barbara stayed committed to safety, resolved the issues and continued to move the program forward.  Because of this injury reduction success at Wiley, Barbara plans to implement the program in an additional dining hall she manages.


From left to right: Suresh Garimella, Marion Miller, Barbara Maughmer, Jim Schweitzer
Suresh Garimella, Marion Miller, Barbara Maughmer, Jim Schweitzer

2014 Presidential Safety Award Winners

Chemical Engineering Safety Committee - The Chemical Engineering Dept. was one of the first to be certified, and continues to be certified under the university's Integrated Safety Plan. They have implemented many safety improvements over time. The latest improvements include the installation of an AED and bi-monthly student led safety seminar.

From left to right: Al Diaz, Fabio Ribeiro, Gabriela Nagy, Robert Hannemann, Yury Zvinevich, Eric Sheets, Rohit Jaini, Jeff Valley
Al Diaz, Fabio Ribeiro, Gabriela Nagy, Robert Hannemann, 
Yury Zvinevich, Eric Sheets, Rohit Jaini, Jeff Valley


Engineering Education Safety Committee - Engineering Education works primarily with students and is mindful of student safety. The Artisan and Fabrication Lab (AFL) in Armstrng is an example of the safety efforts. Students that access this lab sign a safety contract, and safety and usage procedures are posted at each machine.

From left to right: Patrick La Petina, Eric Holloway, Jeff Huddleston, Jim Whitford, Rick Womack, David Radcliffe
Al Diaz, Patrick La Petina, Jeff Huddleston, 
Jim Whitford, Eric Holloway, Rick Womack, David Radcliffe


Grounds Safety Committee - The Grounds department strives to make their hazardous work as safe as possible. The most recent improvement has been outfitting vehicles with strobe lights and requiring all personnel near roadways to wear high visibility outerwear.

From left to right: Jeff Woolard, Safety Committee Chaiman; Gary Evans, Director of Grounds
Jeff Woolard, Safety Committee Chaiman; Gary Evans, Director of Grounds


Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity - The members of this fraternity strive to include safety in all aspects of their fraternity life.  The most recent fire safety inspection by PUFD identified no deficiencies. The fraternity also involves campus safety officials in the planning of their events.

From left to right: Al Diaz, Zachary Brantley, Patty Thomas
Al Diaz, Zachary Brantley, Patty Thomas

2013 Presidential Safety Award Winners

Materials Engineering - Enhancing student and research safety - For their program requiring all graduate students to perform peer safety reviews of laboratories throughout the department.

From left to right: Mitchell Daniels Jr., Cem Akatay, Stephanie Gong, Ruihong Zhang, Lisa Murray, Andrew Rosenberger, Kevin Chaput
Mitchell Daniels Jr., Cem Akatay, Stephanie Gong, 
Ruihong Zhang, Lisa Murray, Andrew Rosenberger, Kevin Chaput


Purdue University Police Department - Enhancing student and community safety - For quick apprehension of the assault/burglary suspects in the fall of 2012, using the campus video surveillance system and "good old fashioned detective work"

From left to right: Carrie Costello, Steve Dietrich, Fred Davis, Matt Rosenbarger, Matt Wietbrock, Mitchell Daniels Jr., John Cox, Mike Boesch
 Carrie Costello, Steve Dietrich, Fred Davis, Matt Wietbrock, 
Matt Rosenbarger, Mitchell Daniels Jr., John Cox, Mike Boesch

Zucrow Labs - Enhancing research lab safety - For their prompt response to safety concerns that necessitated an immediate shutdown of all research until processes could be evaluated to to ensure proper safety protocols

From left to right: Mitchell Daniels Jr., Scott Meyer
Mitchell Daniels Jr., Scott Meyer

Campus Safety Contacts

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Phone: (765) 494-8221

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