Practicing Sustainability in NIH Biomedical Research Laboratory

Bani Bhattacharya, National Institutes of Health
Jaroslav Sebek, National Institutes of Health
Tierra Robinson, National Institutes of Health
Crispin Hernandez, National Institutes of Health

As a federal agency that leads the way in medical innovation, professionals in the NIH Division of Environmental Protection (DEP) are challenged to ensure best management practices in environmental stewardship and sustainability. Resource-intensive biomedical research laboratories offer a unique opportunity to conserve water and energy, reduce toxic chemicals, prevent pollution and reduce waste, and avoid greenhouse gas emissions. At NIH, a small group of environmental specialists develop programs and initiatives to communicate, teach, support, and continually improve best practices in the labs as part of the NIH Environmental Management System program.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about the various outreach initiatives to promote environmental programs
  • Learn about the energy efficient, Ultra Low Temperature (ULT) freezer program
  • Learn about overcoming the challenges present in the solid waste management programs
  • Learn about the innovative chemical waste management program


Ms. Bani Bhattacharya serves as the Environmental Management System Program Manager at NIH. Ms. Bhattacharya collaborates with Environmental Management Program Leads and Sustainability Goal Leads to implement and communicate environmental management initiatives. Initiatives that are part of various environmental management programs such as greenhouse gas emission reduction, solid waste management and recycling, chemical waste handling and disposal, etc. These are cross-jurisdictional programs involving Teams of participants who have daily opportunities to choose to work in an environmentally-friendly way.

Ms. Bhattacharya has more than 10 years of experience in the fields of toxicology and risk assessment, occupational health and safety, and environmental management system. Prior to joining NIH, Ms. Bhattacharya has worked as a toxicologist (Contractor) at Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental and Occupational Health Specialist (Contractor) at Department of Defense. Bani earned a Master of Science in Biology and Master of Public Health in Environment and Occupational Health.

Jaroslav Sebek is an Environmental Engineer who serves as the greenhouse gas program manager for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). His current focus has been to reduce Scope 2 emissions that result from laboratory equipment. Prior to joining NIH, Jaroslav managed environmental compliance programs within the Department of the Army and was a manager of mechanical technical with the Union Pacific Railroad. Jaroslav received a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering.

Tierra Robinson is a Physical Scientist (Environmental) and serves as a technical expert to several federal and county workgroups that has altered standard operating procedures in government medical research labs across the country. Her team aims to develop and sustain the NIH community by identifying exposure pathways and risk factors of environmental toxins present in medical pathological, radioactive, solid and chemical wastes.

Following nearly a decade of research in environmental toxins leading to public health issues in veterans with disabilities, she conducted research as a National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Native Graduate Public Health Fellow and NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Post-Baccalaureate Fellow. Her career focus has been research on reducing the antibiotic efficacy in waste animal bedding through composting in order to impede antibiotic resistance in the environment. Tierra holds an Associate of Pre-law (Paralegal Studies), Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, and Master of Science in Environmental Management.

Crispin Hernandez came to NIH in 2012 with over 27 years' experience in the field of chemistry and hazardous waste management. His current positions is an Industrial Chemist for the NIH, Waste Resource & Recovery Branch, and Division of Environmental Protection. He supports the chemical waste disposal program and is the initiator and lead chemist tasked with management of the NIH "Solvent Recovery & Chemical Surplus for Redistribution Program." Crispin is a member of the NIH Sustainable Lab Practices Workgroup and is a key player in the NIH sustainability and green efforts. In 2014, under Crispin's leadership, the NIH Solvent Recovery Program was the recipient of the HHS Green Champion Award for Environmental Stewardship. Crispin holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a Master of Science in Environmental Technology.


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