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Lawson Named REM Presidential Safety Award Honoree

Shaneka Lawson with REEU students Jonathan Shimizu and Michael HoltDr. Shaneka Lawson, a USDA Forest Service Research Plant Physiologist and FNR adjunct assistant professor, has been named as a 2022 honoree for the Presidential Safety Award by the Purdue Department of Radiological and Environmental Management.

The Presidential Safety Award is awarded to individuals or groups that have made significant accomplishments in improving safety at Purdue. Nominees are selected based on the implementation of new or innovative methods for safety, excellence in the implementation of a safety program, demonstrated improvement in a safety program, personal leadership in safety and consistent safety performance over time. Nominations are reviewed by the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Award Committee and winners are presented at the annual REM safety chair meeting.

Lawson, who earned her PhD from Purdue in 2011, had her safety accomplishments explained on the REM award website:

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 Pfendler 258, 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 extremely excited and grateful that her endless hours of free time spent updating and shaping the lab are appreciated.

“First, I would like to say thank you and that I am honored to have been selected by REM as this year’s winner of the Presidential Safety Award,” Lawson said. “Many hours were dedicated to the task of overhauling the lab and in preparing for each field excursion. I take my responsibility for the safety of those working with me seriously and this recognition means a lot. I will continue working to ensure I remain deserving of this honor.”

This is not Lawson’s first honor of 2022 as she was honored in May by the U.S. Forest Service with the Cultural Diversity Award, which recognizes accomplishments that engage diverse abilities, skills, backgrounds and cultures, and promote inclusion and cultural transformation. Recipients demonstrate awareness of and serves as advocates for the benefits of cultural transformation to further the Forest Service mission "to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations."

For more about Dr. Lawson's research with the Forest Service as well as her other awards, publications and organizational ties, visit her bio on the Forest Service website.

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