STARKVILLE, Miss. — A veteran Mississippi State research professional has been named director of the new Environmental Health and Safety Office at the land-grant institution.
Michael S. Parsons of Eupora began his new duties earlier this month. In the role, he will lead the university’s environmental and occupational safety efforts.
Most recently, he worked as a research associate at MSU’s Institute for Clean Energy Technology for the past 12 years. He also served as campus hazardous waste officer for 11 years.
“These two positions have afforded me the opportunity to view environmental health and safety compliance from both the enforcement and administrative perspective, as well as the compliance requirement side of a university researcher,” Parsons said.
Parsons holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Millsaps College, and earned a master’s degree in chemistry from Mississippi State in 1989. Additionally, he holds the certified hazardous materials manager designation from the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management.
The new EH&S office is charged with developing, managing and implementing policies and programs related to occupational safety, environmental management and fire protection. It will oversee programs designed to monitor, inspect and ensure compliance with corrective or preventative actions taken to reduce or remove exposure to potentially hazardous materials and environments.
“My top priority as director is to ensure that the entire university is emphasizing best practices in environmental health and safety. My staff and I will serve to assist all MSU units in this endeavor,” Parsons said.
The EH&S team will advise others on issues related to lab safety, fire safety, biological safety, radiation safety, occupational safety and health issues relevant to their operations, as well as coordinate development and implementation of educational programs to provide faculty, staff and students opportunities to understand their respective roles in safety.
The EH&S director reports to MSU’s vice president for research and economic development, David Shaw, with additional reporting responsibilities to Vice President for Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine Greg Bohach and Vice President for Campus Services Amy Tuck.
With campus-wide environmental compliance issues and safety-related activities consolidated into EH&S, the former Office of Regulatory Compliance and Safety is now the Office of Research Compliance with Kacey Strickland continuing as director.
“We will be responsible for facilitating the approval of campus research activities, and helping researchers maintain compliance with applicable regulations,” she said.
Examples include the use of human subjects, laboratory animals, and biological and radiological materials, she explained.
The research compliance office, which reports to Shaw, will also have oversight of financial conflicts of interest related to the university’s research enterprise, Strickland said.