Outstanding contributions of Virginia Tech laboratory staff recognized

BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 21, 2009 – Daniel L. Reed of Elliston, Va., laboratory manager in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics, is the winner of the 2009 Virginia Tech Staff Award for Outstanding Performance in Laboratories.

The award, presented by the Laboratory Employee Professional Development Network, recognizes Reed's contributions to the university's research mission.

Reed was cited for his many contributions to the department’s undergraduate laboratory classes, such as providing materials with exacting specifications at the lowest overall cost, ensuring that everyone can safely operate laboratory equipment, demonstrating laboratory techniques to students, and volunteering to monitor evening lab sessions. He also is responsible for the biannual fixed asset inventory and surplus property for his department, "which he accomplishes with efficiency, patience, and perseverance," according to Marshall McCord, mechanical engineer in engineering science and mechanics and Reed’s supervisor.

Reed's colleagues also commend him for meeting the difficult challenge in the aftermath of April 16, when his department had to locate laboratories and lab equipment in a number of locations across campus. "Danny responded to other departmental needs at that time by assuming additional responsibility for the materials testing lab course," McCord said. Since then, he has continued this enhanced level of responsibility while also facilitating student projects and research activities and training and assisting users from other departments. “Danny is one of those people that do their jobs, and much more, in a quiet and dependable way and make up the backbone of this university,” said McCord.

More than 600 laboratory employee's at Virginia Tech perform such tasks as performing experiments and collecting data for research projects in different kinds of laboratories as well as greenhouses, farm areas, and clinical areas, developing methods, instructing students, and writing reports for scientific publications. In their honor, Robert Walters, vice president for research, designated Oct. 14, 2009, to be the first Laboratory Employee Appreciation Day. The Laboratory Technology Exhibit and Workshops held at The Inn at Virginia Tech that day, gave laboratory employees an opportunity to investigate emerging technologies, interface with vendors, participate in a variety of technical workshops, and to be recognized for outstanding work.

Two other exemplary candidates received special recognition during the event: Zhengxing Shen of Blacksburg, Va., laboratory specialist senior in the horticulture department, and Stephanie Michelle Todd of Blacksburg, laboratory specialist with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.

Shen was nominated for bringing creativity and insight to research projects, and for devoting extra hours to time-sensitive and labor-intensive projects. "Dr. Shen takes meticulous care of greenhouse facilities and field study areas entrusted to him. He mentors undergraduates working in his laboratory and has made major contributions to the research programs and grant proposals." It was noted that Shen’s extensive training in genetics, seed science, vegetable physiology, and crop production qualifies him to work on a wide range of projects.

Todd works in the biomedical sciences and pathobiology department, where she is responsible for the research programs of two principal investigators. She plans and carries out experiments; maintains the laboratory by managing supplies, equipment, and safety monitoring; trains and supports students in the lab; and collaborates with others in the college. "Michelle often works long hours, applying her impressive knowledge and training in molecular biology with excellence in her job; she is known for actively searching the literature for updated techniques and solutions," noted Tanya LeRoith, assistant professor of biomedical science. "Perhaps Michelle is most appreciated, however, for her organizational skills, her efficiency, and for being a 'consummate team player'.”

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