Lauriane Quenee, who served as the institute biosafety officer at Caltech for more than seven years, has been promoted to senior director of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S).
Quenee recently served as the interim director of EH&S and will continue leading the Institute's environmental health and safety programs in an official capacity. Her responsibilities include developing and implementing comprehensive safety strategies, ensuring regulatory compliance, and fostering a culture of safety across Caltech.
A trained microbiologist, Quenee has a doctoral degree and several years of research experience. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship and managing research operation at the University of Chicago, she joined the university's biosafety team and established her career as a safety professional.
Quenee moved to Caltech in 2016 as its first academically trained biosafety officer. Since joining, she has strengthened connections across campus and built a robust biosafety program for the Institute's expanding biology research.
When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020, Quenee provided integral support to the Institute's safety strategy, drawing upon her knowledge of disease transmission and biological containment.
Quenee's expertise helped shape safety procedures on campus for essential workers, including student wellness services, campus security, student housing, dining, and custodial teams. Her efforts also enabled vital research to continue safely during the pandemic. Guidelines enacted during that time included limiting the number of researchers in labs at the same time and sterilizing shared spaces and equipment.
"Lauriane's superb leadership, research experience, and collaborative ethos have proved invaluable to our community," says David Kang, associate vice president of Facilities. "I am excited for her vision for the EH&S organization and her ideas for how to improve safety on campus while continuing to provide world-class support to our Caltech faculty, staff, and students."
Quenee says she aims to integrate EH&S's role with Caltech's mission, keeping in mind the distinct strengths of the Institute.
"Caltech is a very unique place, and I think the data speaks for itself," Quenee says. "Look at the numbers, the Nobel Prizes—you get that because Caltech has that Caltech ‘sauce.' We're a small community with a huge breadth of academic freedom and exploration. I think it takes a special type of EH&S to support that special type of science."
Quenee says two of her biggest goals are to implement data-driven approaches in EH&S and to ensure safety and regulatory compliance while upholding the level of academic freedom characteristic of Caltech.
"My job is to think about what can go wrong, how it can go wrong, and how to make sure it does not go wrong," Quenee says. "That freedom to explore is great within the right safety framework and the right research compliance framework, and that's where we add value. The EH&S team can tell you from experience how to mitigate risks. Let's have that conversation."
She adds: "At the end of the day, everything we do is rooted in a very deep sense of care: caring about the people, caring about their passion, caring about their mission. We're here to support the community."