Mark of Excellence
Editor’s note: The Mark of Excellence is a monthly feature, special to the digital Synergist, that honors the recipients of annual awards presented by AIHA and ACGIH. Two award winners will be interviewed each month.
Susan Ripple, MS, CIH, FAIHA
EDWARD J. BAIER TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD This award was founded in 1984 in honor of Edward J. Baier, AIHA’s thirty-ninth president. The award is given to the individual or group of individuals, company, academic institution, organization, or association that has made the most significant contribution to industrial hygiene in recent years through technical expertise, technological innovations, research and scientific advancements in the field of industrial hygiene, and interaction with or influence on other scientific disciplines. For a list of prior winners, see the AIHA website.
The recipient of the 2015 Baier Award is Susan Ripple, MS, CIH, FAIHA, of Midland, Mich. Ripple recently retired from The Dow Chemical Company after a 29-year career. She has been an independent consultant since 2015.
Q: How have you worked with AIHA in the past? A: I was fortunate early in my career to have leaders and supervisors who encouraged me to attend AIHA Local Section meetings and the two AIHA conferences. In 1997 I joined the Workplace Environmental Exposure Levels (WEEL) Committee and subsequently co-wrote more than 20 WEELs. I am still a member of the Emergency Response Planning Guidelines (ERPG) Committee (I have co-written more than 20 ERPGs) in an effort to protect workers and the public’s health. I also was a part of the Exposure Assessment Committee so that I could see how the OELs that we set could be improved.
Starting in 2005 I worked with AIHA to bring control banding and hazard banding to the toolbox of industrial hygienists, and assumed leadership roles in the new Exposure and Control Banding Committee. I’ve been Chair of the WEEL, ERPG, and Control Banding Committees. When setting of the WEELs was transferred from AIHA to TERA, I took a leadership role in that transition and led the Board of Advisors to the TERA-WEELs to ensure success. 
I continued to participate in many AIHA Committees, trying to connect their valuable outputs—for example, connecting the Sampling and Analytical Committee methods with the WEELs—so that hygienists could do their jobs more easily. I participate as a mentor in the Student and Early Career Professionals Committee’s mentoring program, and I’m happy to say that my 2015 mentee had multiple job offers and has selected one that suits her career plans.
I became an AIHA Fellow a few years ago and am now the Chair of the Fellows SIG, which is co-leading efforts to educate students about industrial hygiene as a career path. In 2015, based on my experience in setting OELs and hazard banding, I was allowed to lead the collaborative effort on behalf of the AIHA Board of Directors to coordinate AIHA’s response to OSHA’s Request for Information on PELs and Chemical Management. 
And to top it off, I’ve given at least one presentation (PDC, roundtable, or podium) at AIHce every year since 2000. AIHA awarded me the Alice Hamilton Award in 2013, and I still swell with pride when I think about even being nominated for the award. I am always humbled when asked to do any of the leadership roles for AIHA. These are the opportunities—speaking for the worker and public health—that have made me more confident and which fulfill the altruistic side of my life. Q: What significance does this award hold for you? A: I am humbled and honored that others in AIHA have chosen to honor my efforts to simply be the voice of the workers and our communities through my lifetime of volunteerism with AIHA committees. I never even dreamed of receiving a lifetime achievement award when I moved from being a nutritionist and researcher in medicine to becoming an industrial hygienist. My whole purpose was altruistic—to inspire as many people, hygienists included, to make workplaces and communities safer from the potential exposures to chemical, physical, and biological stressors. Everything I’ve done was to communicate the opportunities to protect people and to plan that protection in advance when possible. My thoughts have been to highlight the tools and protocols available and to simplify and improve the technical capabilities of our professionals. To me, this award conveys that what we do matters in our profession beyond any monetary compensation.