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Spotlight on Joan O’Sullivan: CBE EHS Professional

Joan O’Sullivan has been serving CBE for nearly ten years as our Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Professional.  Joan’s role is critical to the department’s research mission, including over $15 M in annual research expenditures.  She guides CBE researchers in safe laboratories and operating procedures and oversees laboratory renovations and upgrades, facilities maintenance, equipment inventory, and space utilization.  She is an invaluable asset and the “go-to” person when things need to get done.

What makes Joan such a great EHS Professional? First, she has vast knowledge and experience from twenty-five years in ECE, including ten as the supervisor of the ECE Clean Room, coupled with nearly a decade here in CBE.  Second, she is a creative problem-solver who knows who to call to get things done.  And last but not least, she is friendly, available, and willing to help with anything, from reporting a light out to running over to another building to check on a malfunctioning hood.

What does Joan like best about her work?  “The opportunity to work with a diverse student base that expands my world.  I hope that I am expanding their knowledge of safety in the laboratory and sometimes I learn from them and their experiences.”

Joan takes her role seriously and gets satisfaction from positively impacting our safety culture.  She believes that it is essential that all lab members support each other in safety.  She would like to see all labs have a well-documented training process that helps new group members quickly learn about the hazards in the lab and how to perform lab processes safely.  She emphasizes that the key to having a good safety culture is “recognizing that we are all in it together.”

Cherry pecan swirl baked by Joan O'Sullivan

Bagel baked by Joan O'SullivanJoan grew up in Connecticut, but her first year of life was outside of Philadelphia – and that explains why she is a Philly-everything fan, including including Philly Tastykakes and Lebanon Bologna, the Philadelphia Eagles (football), the Philadelphia Flyers (hockey), and of course, the Philadelphia Phillies (baseball)!

During the pandemic, she expanded her baking from cookies to cupcakes, and now she is on to quick breads, yeast breads, cherry pecan swirl bread, and even bagels (both of which look awfully good for a first attempt)!

Joan O'Sullivan with one of her granddaughtersJoan also quilts and has expanded her quilting beyond the traditional patchwork quilt to t-shirt quilts, which she says are “a blast to build!”  She has sent many of her nieces and nephews off to college with a special quilt!  Joan also enjoys spending time with her nine grandchildren, who she says are growing up too quickly, with the oldest just starting to work at Patuxent River Naval Station!  Joan’s comment?  “So happy for her!,” which epitomizes her character and personality.  We are so lucky to have Joan in CBE, positively impacting our safety culture and our department, and showing us that it is possible to do it all and with a smile!