Since 2007, EHS has been honoring staff members with the EHS Employee of the Year Award as well as the EHS Excellence Award, now the Dariusz Czarnota Award of Excellence. These awards were created to recognize employees for their exceptional work ethic and dedication to EHS.
A list of past recipients and their accomplishments are listed below.
EHS Employee of the Year Award
2017: Shumin Bian
The Yale Office of Environmental Health and Safety proudly honors Shumin Bian as our 2017 Employee of the Year for his leadership of the Biosafety Stewardship-Cold Storage Inventory Project. The project responded to NIH’s Directive and implemented the Institutional Biosafety Committee’s High-Risk Biohazard Policy. Assessing Yale’s 4,600 cold storage units was a multi-year undertaking! Shumin was assisted by student interns, who started with minimal knowledge of biohazards, laboratories and research freezers. Shumin trained the interns to safely enter labs, interact with staff, track the project’s progress and gain the cooperation of busy researchers. While managing this project, Shumin kept other Safety Advisors informed and received their assistance. Many people helped, but the project would never have been completed without exceptional persistence on Shumin’s part. And he did this while maintaining all of his Safety Advisor responsibilities. Amazing!
2016: Wyndam Abrams
As our Environmental Affairs Officer, Whyndam Abrams brings nothing but excellence to EHS every day. His attention to detail and uncompromising work ethic make for incredibly tight compliance within his programs, which minimizes the University’s impact on the environment. Whyndam’s duties include implementing and maintaining numerous regulatory requirements including UST/AST Programs, sampling and record-keeping requirements for permits, TSCA, SPCC, air emissions, stormwater management, environmental engineering and many others. He has proved to be a great mentor with the ability to make time to discuss and explain his programs. He has developed trusted relationships with his colleagues, contacts throughout the University and the many outside vendors with whom he interacts. Whyndam was also honored in 2011 with the EHS Excellence Award (now the Dariusz Czarnota Award of Excellence).
2015: Emma Bahroos
Emma started at EHS in 2012, and soon gained respect and appreciation as a Safety Advisor. As our Laser Safety Officer, Emma quickly
learned the details of the job and, with the help of consultants, conducted laser safety audits of over 200 lasers within months of
beginning her employment. We know her to be organized, personable, energetic and analytical. Emma continually challenges herself. She has a passion for learning both her areas of responsibility as well as the details of other EHS disciplines. Because of these traits, she often
becomes a mentor for others-using her excellent communication skills to ensure that others understand. Emma is typically among the first
people who offer to help with a project, take the lead as a first responder, and cover another Team Member’s turn to carry the Emergency Response Team phone. In many cases, she has taken on additional responsibility to ensure that a project is complete and successful. Emma is not afraid of change, but seems to thrive in it-all with an ultimate goal of making things better.
2014: Ben Fontes
Ben provides Yale with the highest level of biosafety leadership. It starts with passion. He works tirelessly to prevent occupational illness and adverse environmental impacts from biological materials. Ben is an active member of the American Biological Safety Association and the International Federation of Biosafety Associations, where he promotes the discipline of biosafety and helps develop biosafety professionals throughout the world. At Yale, Ben works constructively with researchers. Customers and co-workers know he is the go-to-person for biosafety advice. Within EHS, he is always willing to help. He somehow manages to make each interaction educational. He is often the first person to offer assistance in an emergency and often the first person to credit colleagues for their good work. He is genuinely interested in staff professional growth, within and outside of EHS. This award recognizes the confidence we gain from working with Ben, and our deep admiration for him.
2013: Riccardo Airo
Riccardo was chosen for this award because of his strong work ethic, courteous and professional manner and his unwavering support of EHS and his Yale clients. This was clearly demonstrated during the months in 2013 when Riccardo put his regular duties on hold to volunteer full-time for the shop safety program. When the new Assistant Physical Safety Officer was hired, Riccardo shared his knowledge to ensure a seamless transition. In 2013, Riccardo assumed full responsibility for the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) program-overseeing equipment installation, inspections and training. He coordinates the program with departments, Procurement and contractors. He also has a leadership role in the lock-out/tag-out program. He provides training and helps develop site-specific written programs. Riccardo is a model of dedication to safety and a valuable resource to your EHS colleagues and clients.
2012: Cathleen King
Cathy has shown exemplary leadership in occupational health and industrial hygiene. In 2012, Cathy played key roles on the chemical inventory initiative, PPE working group, and Chemical and Laboratory Safety Committee. She has contributed to several EHS research projects to improve safety practices and generate significant savings. A recent project’s results have just been submitted for publication. Every year, we benefit from her dedication and experience. Extremely self-motivated, Cathy is always among the first to offer help, including during off-hours emergencies. She is our “go-to” person for all things chemical and industrial ventilation. When working with her, people learn “how to fish” instead of just getting an answer. She does this for people within and outside of EHS. Perhaps most importantly, people who work with Cathy adopt her professional ethic. She holds herself and others to high standards. Selfless and humble, she is valued and appreciated as our colleague.
2011: Brian Mullins
EHS proudly honors Brian for his exceptional initiative and diligent work. Brian serves as the facility technician on the LEPH BSL-3 management team. He designed and implemented lab space decontaminations, effluent sink testing and certification protocols for the autoclaves. These have resulted in significant savings in completing the annual CDC validation protocols. When joining EHS, Brian brought with him the valuable knowledge and insights of an accomplished researcher. He has helped many researchers by sharing his cell culture and sterile work practice techniques to help eliminate contamination. Brian’s co-workers say he’s reliable, hardworking, experienced, prompt, helpful, dependable and cheerful. Brian is a model of dedication to the safety and well being of the Yale community.
2010: Doug Noble
Despite a regular workload that has expanded each year since he’s joined the Safety Advisor program, Doug has served as one of the principal assistants to the campus Physical Safety program, assisting with audits and trainings. Doug took leadership of the cooling tower monitoring program, becoming responsible for writing sample reports and communicating program needs with Power Plant Managers, Property Management representatives and Building Superintendents. He also assumed the lead role in the Fall Protection Safety program and is ahead of schedule in achieving this goal. Doug’s background in EAS has proved invaluable to EHS, where he has provided assistance by working in a variety of essential roles during a shortage of personnel. In the past year, Doug has developed a campus bicycle safety program geared at improving bicycle safety on campus. This training will not only be offered to Yale students, but it has been well received by the Yale Police and Security departments. Doug’s work ethic and high level of commitment to every project he undertakes makes him a pleasure to work with.
2009: David Dicks
David works closely with faculty and staff throughout the Yale community to create positive and long lasting relationships, and is the principal liaison with Yale Animal Resources Center and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. David has grown in his responsibilities at YARC/IACUC–now attending each meeting, and leads the annual EHS inspections of YARC Facilities, assigning Safety Advisors to the IACUC inspections, and ensuring that every Haz agent start up meeting is attended by himself or another qualified EHS professional. David has also started to train other interested Safety Advisors in this endeavor, helping to promote their education and knowledge in laboratory animal safety. In his commitment to both his professional and personal goals, David recently obtained his national certification as an industrial hygienist (CIH). He is also responsible for creating the hazard agent/material spreadsheet that is a hallmark of the IACUC meetings that expedites their ability to review such a massive number of new, renewed and modified protocols at each monthly meeting. David strives to produce high quality work, displays energy in his job, is open to new ideas and is always willing to help and provide leadership to others at EHS and in the Yale community. He truly embodies the EHS mission, vision and value statement.
2008: Stephanie Perry
As the EHS Business Manager, Stephanie provides a high level of support and leadership to her own staff, as well as to every staff member of EHS. She facilitates our hiring, oversees our daily operations and special projects, ensures the security of the EHS department, manages the departmental budget, has excellent written and communication skills, as well as strong analytical and problem solving skills. She promotes interest in her staff and in their personal development. She is exceptionally dedicated and conscientious in everything she does and she continually strives to produce high quality work and work ethics. Stephanie is very well respected and admired by those of us who work with her and she deals fairly with each employee. In addition, she encourages us to give our best effort here at EHS and invites her staff to take advantage of the many trainings that are offered here at Yale. With her very busy schedule, Stephanie gives her time to anyone who may feel overwhelmed and in need of direction, or may simply feel a need to talk. Any aspect of the running of the office of EHS goes through Stephanie. She wears many hats and she makes our work life easier.
2007: Brenda Armstrong
In recognition of her valuable contributions to the department as the Environmental Operations Manager and as acting Environmental Services Section Manager, Brenda handles the many crises and issues she faces with perseverance and dedication, and in a calm, consistent and professional manner. Starting with her initial hire in 1994 as an Environmental Services Section Technician, along with her earning both her masters in Environmental Science/Environmental Health Management and her professional certification as a Hazardous Materials Manager in 2001, Brenda has demonstrated her great skill and ability to evaluate and prioritize her duties, which shows in her steady growth to the management position she holds today. She exemplifies the best of Yale’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety with her professionalism, thoroughness and knowledge. She is committed to the development and growth of her staff and consistently promotes a diplomatic and professional atmosphere, is committed to her personal and professional goals and is an excellent choice as the first recipient of the Employee of the Year award.
Dariusz Czarnota Award of Excellence
This award is named in honor of Dariusz Czarnota, who was a Safety Advisor at Environmental Health and Safety from 2001 until his untimely death in 2012. His dedication and work ethic exemplified the highest standards of performance and service.
2017: Neil Velasquez
Demonstrating reliability, consistency, hard work and exceptional communication skills, Neil has proven to be one of EHS’ most valuable employees. While we appreciate him for calibrating survey meters and delivering radioactive material packages, he has many other wide-ranging duties. He is one of EHS’ most praised AED/CPR trainers and is always willing to help with any task, which he completes quickly and thoroughly. His previous experience as an EHS hazardous waste specialist benefits both his current work and his coworkers. These traits have earned Neil a high level of respect both within and outside of EHS.
2017: Liz DeChello
Somehow, Liz always seems to know when others need help. She’s the first one to offer assistance to a coworker who is struggling with a task or can just use an extra hand. For example, Liz has been instrumental during the implementation of Workday, often putting her own work aside to help others with the new system. Her customer service is exemplary. She is often involved in organizing EHS events that enhance our work here, from staff luncheons to the annual football game outing. Her positive and caring attitude is infectious, and the heartbeat of EHS.
2017: Julio Badillo, Ray Charles Capanzana, Taylor Gainey, Donique Haynes, Koleyatu Sheriff
Working as part of a team of New Haven Promise Scholars under the supervision of Safety Advisor Shumin Bian, these students assisted with the herculean task of completing the Biosafety Stewardship Project-Cold Storage Inventory. Their strong work ethic and professionalism was instrumental in helping Yale’s Principal Investigators and lab managers with identifying their cold storage units, verifying their contents and completing an inventory of high-risk biological materials, when applicable. The team worked together to deal with many aspects of the project including tracking and verifying data, answering questions regarding the project and helping to track swing freezer use. The Safety Advisor managers and all of the EHS staff are extremely grateful for their hard work and are proud to celebrate their achievements.
2016: Josh Armstrong
With his steady and consistent work, Josh plays an integral role in setting a standard of excellence within EHS. His extraordinary time management skills allow him to handle a significant work load with seeming ease. He continues to take on more responsibilities and manage numerous programs, including radioactive material clearances, renovations and decommissions, and semi-annual inventories. He serves as a mentor for new Safety Advisors and technicians. Josh promotes an exceptional safety culture in his assigned areas; he somehow manages to be polite and respectful while also being firm. Josh is respected resource for all of us at EHS.
2016: Deb Ferry
Throughout her 25-year career at EHS, Deb has been an invaluable asset. She has always been willing to take on new challenges and responsibilities. She serves as a technical expert for the shipping team. She plays a key role in the biosafety cabinet program. She joined the Biosafety Stewardship Project-Cold Storage Inventory project. She creates EHS documents and SOPs that are a great help to new employees, who also benefit from her mentorship. Her willingness and ability to share her wealth of knowledge with the entire EHS family and the University at large has a positive impact on everyone with whom she interacts. Deb was honored with EHS’ Employee Excellence Award in 2009 and is now the first two-time award winner.
2015: Sarah Kwan
When Sarah arrived at Yale University she immediately engaged her Principal Investigator (Dr. Elimelech in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences) to improve her lab’s safety culture. She volunteered to serve as the lab safety co-manager. Sarah created simplified biomedical waste posters that were unique to her lab. To improve their effectiveness, these posters relied heavily on images over words. She developed a lab safety checklist to onboard new researchers, so that before starting work they would complete all their relevant EHS training, including a review of their lab-specific biomedical waste protocols. Sarah initiated a five-minute safety briefing at every lab meeting, at which time she reviewed basic safety information pertinent to their laboratory. Sarah invited EHS specialists to join them in these briefings. She even created a lab Wiki page to host the safety information, specific to their laboratory. She has since moved to Dr. Peccia’s research group, and is implementing the same great improvements there. Sarah’s efforts have grown Yale’s safety culture. She has helped all of her colleagues gain a solid foundation in laboratory safety, and created a strong partnership with Yale EHS. Yale EHS is proud to award Sarah Kwan the Dariusz Czarnota Award of Excellence. Sarah is a true lab safety champion.
2014: John Campbell
From his first day at Yale just a year ago, John has aggressively set high standards for improving safety within Yale shops, dining areas and other work environments. His monthly shop safety bulletin has been well received. John has taken a major role in addressing injuries and high-risk accidents across campus. He has developed and initiated novel new training programs. John is an excellent team member who is always willing to take the lead on projects, which invariably make measureable, positive impacts. John has made himself available to help all EHS staff. He exudes a friendly, proactive, positive and high-energy attitude.
2013: Sal Aurelia, Sr.
Sal is the consummate team player. We first met Sal when he worked on campus as an employee of our universal waste vendor. He was extremely personable and helpful. Upon joining the EAS as a health & safety technician, he was cross trained in all waste programs. As opportunities opened, Sal seized the moment. Sal showed an interest in learning about radioactive waste and became the lead technician for the radioactive waste program. He has assisted in re-training labs and training new technicians in radioactive waste management. Sal is also an essential part of our outlying biomedical waste program. He travels to clinics and other outlying locations to package and transport their biomedical waste. He also provides staff with valuable biomedical waste guidelines and guidance when needed. Sal brings forward new ideas on how to improve the section. He is always there to help others and does so with a positive attitude.
EHS Excellence Award
2012: Rob Klein
Rob is being recognized for his dedication and vision of EHS excellence. There is perhaps no better example of this than our shop safety initiative. Rob immediately reviewed all aspects of shop safety on campus. Under his direction, quantum improvements were made to tools, infrastructure, training, policies and procedures. His friendly and cooperative attitude, broad expertise and thoughtful advice have earned him the highest level of respect from all corners of campus. While he often credits others, we all know that his leadership and energy have been essential for so many EHS improvements and accomplishments. We are proud to call Rob our colleague.
2011: Whyndam Abrams
Whyndam is recognized for his hard work and dedication to the Environmental Affairs program within the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. He is responsible for many things, such as keeping the environmental permit record keeping and sampling requirements up to date while reviewing and commenting on upcoming regulatory changes. He assists in all aspects of the water discharge permitting process as well as maintains the TSCA and SARA reporting inventories. He works on water diversion requirements, training programs for staff as well as the SPCC program and release reporting just to name a few. Whyndam is a second term Secretary for the CT Chapter of Certified Hazardous Materials Managers and for the past several years he has also served as a mentor for other members of the department interested in learning about the environmental compliance field. He has handled a significant workload increase over the years with a willingness to take on larger projects. He accepts these new challenges in a professional and calm manner. Whyndam has made excellent strides during his time here at Yale.
2010: Steve Murdzia
Steve plays a consistent role in providing excellent health and safety services to the University community. Steve serves a critical role for EHS as a primary contact on construction and renovation projects. He is well-known and deeply appreciated by Facilities, Project Management, Planning and University Properties, where he is considered the “go-to” guy. His knowledge of building systems and the construction planning process make him an especially valuable asset during hazardous materials investigations and abatement. In addition, this year the University was awarded a multi-million dollar settlement as part of a class-action asbestos suit in which Steve played a key roll with General Counsel. Steve embodies the ideal of customer service and always delivers more than asked.
2009: Deb Ferry
Deb has been instrumental in coordinating and consolidating the program on the shipment of hazardous and regulated materials. Her efforts have greatly expanded our knowledge, have expanded the transfer of shipping information to our client base at Yale, and by converting existing training materials into online programs, she facilitated compliance for those who ship hazardous and regulated materials on campus. As the lead for the Clean Air Device (Biosafety Cabinet) program, she recently challenged the cost of cage rack HEPA filters, which led her to a new supplier and will culminate in a sizable annual cost savings to YARC. Through her efforts, she has rescued many CAD’s from disposal, which has likely saved researchers hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is indicative of the many cost-saving approaches that Deb has pursued without request, but through her own volition. All told, Deb could be one of Yale’s million dollar employees, in terms of cost-savings for Yale University departments by the time she retires. Deb strives to improve her career goals and her commitment to EHS and has received her CBSP (Certified Biological Safety Professional) certification, ABSA and NRM/BS accreditations and was elected President of MABSA (Mid Atlantic Biological Safety Association) in June 2009.
2009: John Dahlstrom
In the few short years John has been with EHS, he has made improvements to long standing business processes and information systems, which resulted in increased operational efficiency. His contributions include the completion of the development and the deployment of the universal waste request web application, the development of the biological inventory tracking system for high-containment level labs (Freezerworks), SQL database for renovation/construction projects, the completion of documentation of all EHS business processes and the upgrading of EHS data loads as part of a second generation EHS platform. He also developed a radiation safety sealed source inventory database with features including purchasing, inventory and waste. John is team leader on the Interim Data Solution project and has already completed the arduous task of removing social security numbers from all EHS databases. John is a dedicated and conscientious employee who strives to produce not only high-quality work but high-quality results, which is greatly appreciated by EHS staff and University leadership.
2008: Mike Kaseta
As a Health & Safety Technician, Mike consistently provides excellent customer service. He takes his responsibilities seriously, leaving nothing to chance. He is responsible for and oversees the radioactive package deliveries, conducts Legionella sampling, performs major lab clearances, assists in the management of our Hot Labs, performs thyroid counts, takes air samples and certifies fume hoods, eye washes and emergency showers. Mike also assists in resolving radioactive package issues. He is always polite, accurate and reliable. We are especially impressed by his positive attitude. Mike continues to work hard and put his best effort forward. He is a valuable Safety Advisor Technician.
2007: James Watkins
James is a dedicated, hard working employee who began working for EHS as an ESS technician where he was cross trained in all the waste programs. He quickly showed an interest in radioactive waste management and worked his way to health physicist for the group. He has succeeded in disposing of a backlog of historical radioactive material. James has also taken the initiative to assist in improving and critiquing the ESS databases while streamlining and formalizing many of the components of the radiation waste program. He agreed to serve as the interim Supervisor for the ESS technicians and has been learning new facets of ESS in the process. James is open to new ideas and welcomes challenges with a positive and fair attitude.
2007: Ben Fontes, Tom Ouimet, Randi Palmisamo
Benjamin Fontes (EHS), Tom Ouimet (EHS) and Randina Palmisano (YARC) worked diligently for more than a year on the production of a training video that was funded by the American Biological Safety Association. The video, entitled “Working Safely with Laboratory Animals,” is designed to address issues at the Animal BSL-1, 2 and 3 levels. This video bridges an important and vulnerable gap between lab animal husbandry, research, and safety. It will be distributed widely by ABSA and further helps establish Yale’s reputation in the areas of lab animal resources and safety. This award recognizes the very hard work, technical expertise and, perhaps above all, the perseverance that these three individuals brought to this project. They successfully mastered the training issues, negotiated their way through the oversight committee’s requirements and developed a product that they and all of their partners should be proud of.
2007: Linda Mouning
Linda has successfully and efficiently supported the biosafety cabinet and controlled substances programs and has expanded her role in the controlled substances program to include assisting the regulatory inspectors on their laboratory walkthrough inspections. She is presented this award in recognition of her commitment and dedication to EHS and the University, and in recognition of her high level of customer service. Her outstanding efforts are greatly appreciated.