BLS Featured CLSO: Karen Kelley
1. Who are you?
I have approximately 20 years of experience in environmental health and safety, with almost 15 years in a university environment. Outside of work, I am an amateur bookbinder and rent time in a bookbinding studio using turn-of-the-century equipment to bind books by hand.
2. What is your educational background?
I have a BS in mathematics from Temple University. After starting a master’s in Actuarial Science, I discovered the industrial hygiene field. I decided that being an industrial hygienist was more exciting than being an actuary, so I went back to school for an MS in industrial hygiene. I am also a certified industrial hygienist.
3. Where do you work?
I am the Manager of Research Safety at the University Maryland. My areas of responsibility include all aspects of research safety, with the exception of biological safety and ionizing radiation. I have recently assumed the role of Laser Safety Officer at the University of Maryland.
4. When did you start working with lasers?/ How long have you worked with lasers?
I started working with lasers in 1996 when I became the deputy LSO at a company that manufactured distribution equipment for the cable industry.
5. How did you become the LSO?
Most of my laser safety experience comes from my time at the University of Pennsylvania. I became the LSO at Penn because of my previous experience with lasers, my strong interest in developing the laser safety program and my background in mathematics. My love of doing calculations didn’t hurt!
6. Do you like being the LSO?/Challenges of “today’s” MLSO?
I love being the LSO, especially at a large research institution. It is exciting to be part of the cutting edge research that is conducted here. The biggest challenge of being the LSO is the competing priorities for my time and efforts. Laser safety is one of many areas of responsibility. Other challenges include competing priorities of researchers and principal investigators, funding for needed safety controls and improvements and the devlopment of a strong culture of safety in our research laboratories.
7. How has becoming certified helped/benefited you in your career?
Credibility is critical in the health and safety field, and the CLSO designation helps to determine that I have the necessary knowledge and skills to perform my role as LSO in a professional and competent manner.