Julie Petruska Receives Award for Safety Excellence

Julie Petruska, Analytical Chemist Supervisor for the Charles E. Via, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has received the 2015 Virginia Tech Award for Safety Excellence.

The Award for Safety Excellence was given by the university this year for the first time. Honorees were recognized on April 13, 2015 at a conference featuring keynote speaker, Caryl Griffin-Russell, MSN, MDiv from the Elizabeth R. Griffin Research Foundation. The event recognized members of the university community whose safety efforts or initiatives have resulted in a safer work environmental or substantially helped to eliminate or minimize loss or injury.

Petruska has worked for the Via Department for 30 years in the environmental engineering laboratories.

“Julie oversees the safety aspects of approximately sixty graduate students who are doing thesis and dissertation research in five different buildings. She trains each and every student on safety and chemical handling matters before they are allowed to enter the laboratories and begin their work,” wrote W. R. Knocke, W.C. English Professor, in his letter of nomination.

She is known for her diligence and attention to detail, which are extremely important when working in laboratories with approximately 1100 students, staff and faculty. “Julie pays exception attention to safety and is my ‘go-to’ person within the department for all chemical and general laboratory safety management,” said W. Samuel Easterling, the Montague-Betts Professor of Structural Steel Design and the department head.

Petruska volunteered to participate in the new Safety Management System that has been piloted at various locations around campus, allowing the environmental engineering laboratories to be early in trying out and evaluating new procedures including work in chemical registry.

In 2008, she was honored with the Outstanding Performance in a Lab Award for her work with graduate students, daily maintenance and upkeep of facilities and a smooth transition between the off-campus classrooms and laboratories.