A graphic showing two people looking off-screen, with blue-white lights glittering in their silhouettes. Next to them is the text "Underwriters Laboratories: The Future of Safety Science."

Collaborator Spotlight: Underwriters Laboratories

LabXchange convenes a community that believes in the importance of education. Our collaborator Underwriters Laboratories is on a mission to engage secondary school students in safety science. We sat down with Kelly Keena, Ph.D., director of education, and Deepa Shankar, senior education partnership manager to discuss their mission, their content, and their upcoming free webinar series, The Future of Safety Science.

A Legacy of Leadership in Safety Science

What's one thing LabXchange users should know about your organization?

Founded in 1894, Underwriters Laboratories employs collaborative and scientific approaches with partners and stakeholders to drive innovation and progress toward improving safety, security, and sustainability, ultimately enhancing societal well-being.

What's one fun fact about your organization?

UL’s large fire lab in Northbrook, IL has one of the largest working elevators in North America. It is about 100 ft x 100 ft in size, and the roof of this fire lab is on four pistons that can raise and lower the roof depending on the research requirements of the study. Our Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI) conducts experiments in this innovative space that includes building structures as large as a 3200 square-foot, two-story home complete with furnishings, instrumenting them with sensors and thermal imaging cameras, and burning them to understand fire behavior in different scenarios. You can experience the inquiry into the impact of ventilation on structural fires in our educational resource, Xplorlabs Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence.

What is your organization's vision for science education?

To solve through science. We create a conduit from our labs to classrooms around the world so students can apply scientific investigation to the science of safety. We create pathways to STEM careers in safety science through programs that connect budding scientists with our experts in research and engineering.

Connecting Students with Safety Scientists

What’s new and exciting?

On September 3, 2021, we are launching a webinar series called The Future of Safety Science aimed at underrepresented groups in STEM careers as we prepare to launch a summer intensive Research Leadership Pathways program on our campus next summer. For more information on this free, open webinar series, click here.

Scientific Inspirations

Who are your scientific inspirations?

Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Jane Goodall, Newton, Katherine Johnson, Rachel Carson, Kizzmekia Corbett, Judy Jeevarajan, Steve Kerber.

What is the first science experiment you created for Xplorlabs?

The Bologna Test. In our first Xplorlabs module Portable Electrical Power, we created a student investigation using bologna, saline, and button cell batteries to demonstrate the safety risks posed by these small power suppliers that are in many devices including key fobs and children’s toys.

Two electric hoverboards sit on a workbench alongside voltage meters.

It was invigorating to work with middle school students as we developed this investigation and to hear their thinking and questions.

Tell us what motivates you to continue creating/communicating your amazing content! We believe in our mission to create a safer, more sustainable world. We are inspired by the innovative critical research that supports this mission among our scientific teams. We take that inspiration to help students understand and then act on their findings, including engagement with students to hear their solutions to our world’s most pressing safety and sustainability issues. Through education and outreach, we believe that everybody can contribute to safety and sustainability including resilient communities.

Just for Fun

What do you do with a sick chemist? If you can’t helium and you can’t curium, then you might as well barium.

Undewriters Laboratories is proud to announce The Future of Safety Science, a webinar series for college and university students, including students looking ahead to college. In these dynamic conversations, our research, standards, and communications experts will discuss the science of safety and potential careers for the next generation of problem solvers.

This series is free and open to anyone interested in attending! For the full calendar of events and registration links, please visit https://ul.org/what-we-do/underwriters-laboratories/future-of-safety-science and follow Underwriters Laboratories on LinkedIn for updates on this incredible opportunity for students.

Do you want to check out Underwriters Laboratories Xplorlabs activities on LabXchange? Visit their collaborator page.Who are the LabXchange content collaborators? View our growing list of content collaborators here.

Written by
LabXchange team

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