Beatriz Rett, Safety Manager at the Joint Genome Institute, oversees the health and safety programs for a division with nearly 300 researchers and staff.  She works closely with the Environment, Health & Safety team to develop programs that address biohazards, chemicals, ergonomics, and injury prevention. Beatriz fosters a collaborative environment, ensuring safety measures support and advance critical research efforts. She brings valuable experience from her previous Stanford School of Medicine role.

“My family and I would spend weekends at the local science center and natural history museum,” said Beatriz. “I was intrigued by one exhibit that showed human anatomy and how the internal organs functioned. I think that started me thinking about science as a career.  I started as a research scientist but realized my heart was on a path that directly impacted health. That’s how I moved into the role of the safety manager.

Beatriz’s first paying job was as a research associate doing stem cell research. She received her degree in neuroscience from UC Riverside. She went on to work in stem cell research, investigating the impact of tobacco on embryonic stem cells. She planned on going to grad school when she was exposed to the health and safety side of research.

“Working with researchers has taught me a valuable lesson: while I may not be a scientific expert, I can be an expert in ensuring their safety.”

Beatriz Rett

Q: How many different jobs have you had in your career journey, and which one was the most rewarding?  

A: I’ve had five jobs in my field. The most rewarding was when I was responsible for safety at the UC Riverside School of Medicine. It was a new program and brand new facility, and I was among the first 50 staff members of the school. I found it rewarding since I needed to develop all the health and safety programs and write the training requirements for the labs at the school. As part of the job, I mentored a small team. I learned from them. It was like running a start-up. It was a challenging but rewarding time. 


Q: Who was your most influential mentor – formal or informal – and how did they shape your career path?

A: I’ve had great supervisors in my field who supported my career growth. Nick Everson is my current supervisor at the Lab, and he encouraged me to pursue my Master’s degree in safety management. I’m now completing a certification in industrial hygiene. I couldn’t develop my career without this level of support.

The person who got me into this field was a friend and a fellow researcher when I was a research associate. He was the one who noticed my interest in how safety programs can impact researchers’ lives and suggested I explore that path. This is not a well-known field, so I had to first understand for myself how my work as a safety manager could make an impact.


Q: What is the most important career advice you have received? 

A: Working with researchers has taught me a valuable lesson: while I may not be a scientific expert, I can be an expert in ensuring their safety. I’ve learned to actively listen and be open to their perspectives. Often, there are multiple ways to achieve a task. By understanding the research goals, I can work collaboratively to identify the safest and most effective approach for everyone. 

A career at Berkeley Lab offers a range of opportunities supported by training, mentorship, and career development programs. Whether you choose to build a career at the Lab or take your skills to other organizations, a career path to and at the Lab sets you up for success.