Building a Culture of Safety

NC State Gateway

Barbara White wins Safety AwardResearch Operations Manager Barbara White is dedicated to a culture of safety, leading by example. Before arriving at NC State in 2005 she built a career managing analytical laboratories, including USDA’s Agricultural Research Center. It’s no surprise she’s being recognized by the global specialist chemical company, Eastman, for her lifetime commitment to safety.

This October, Barbara was awarded The Eastman Leadership in Safety Award, presented by Ken Kretchman, Director of Environmental Health & Safety at NC State. Eastman gave six awards in total to individuals for sustained leadership at a College and/or University level over a continued period of time.  Marian McCord, CNR’s Associate Dean for Research was also given the award with Dr. Myron Floyd accepting on her behalf.

Partners in Safety

Eastman Chemical Company has partnered with NC State since at least 2012 when they negotiated a six-year masters research agreement with the university. An August 2019 article in Centennial Campus news discusses the impact of Eastman’s partnership.

“Eastman’s support has spanned 11 academic departments and funded 86 research projects. The partnership has resulted in over 140 conference presentations, thesis chapters and journal articles, 30 invention disclosures, two patents issued and six patents pending. The research has informed and accelerated developments in products such as films, polyesters, cellulose esters and products like Avra™, a fast-drying microfiber textile line that is worn by the U.S. Ski Team.”

Graduate Students Tackle Safety

Under Barbara’s leadership, CNR developed a Graduate Safety Officers Program to work alongside the CNR Safety Officers towards the following objectives:

  1. Help the College comply with all Federal and state regulatory requirements (EPA, OSHA, etc.) in its teaching, research, and extension activities
  2. Serve as positive role models to their fellow graduate students and build a strong safety culture in CNR
  3. Provide students with real world experience performing safety compliance activities (conduct safety inspections, remediation of violations)
  4. Allow students to gain access to additional training and resources  in occupational health and safety so that they will be properly trained to manage the safety aspects of their future careers in industry, government, or academia (topics include hazard review, hazardous waste management, additional task-specific training)
  5. Provide the students with 1-2 field trips a year to an industrial site so they can see how safety is incorporated into an overall quality management program

The initiative will bring about $500 specifically to the Forest Biomaterials department to enhance safety.  Additionally, Barbara reports that the graduate officers work exceptionally hard; so, she makes a point to bring local, Stickboy Bakery cookies to each meeting.

The following students make up the 2019-20 graduate safety officer cohort:

  • Darlene Echeverria (FB)
  • Deanna Hardesty (FER)
  • Xiao Jiang (FB)
  • Ian Kirven (FB)
  • Matthew Kollman (FB)
  • Heather Starkey (FB)
  • Ramakrishna (RK) Trovagunta (FB)

Staff advisors include:

  • Barbara White (CNR Safety Officer)
  • Guillermo Velarde (FB and member of CNR Safety Committee)
  • Beverly Miller (FB)
  • AnneMargaret Braham (FER)

The programs welcomes the opportunity to share their expertise with industry groups. For more information please contact Barbara White at