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Testimonials for the 2011 Infinite Mile Award Winners

John DiCiaccio, Nuclear Reactor Lab
John never stops learning new skills beyond his position requirements, and then builds on them so as to use them both for the lab and to train fellow staff members and students. His patience in mentoring, his insights into mechanical systems, and his interest in figuring out how things work are inspirational. Reactor staff and experimenters often turn to John for advice and for his direct involvement to address mechanical challenges and problems. His solutions are always direct and, at times, characteristically elegant.


Jack Gannon, Division of Comparative Medicine
Jack interacts with Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM) senior veterinary and management staff, Department of Facilities personnel, outside contractors, DCM animal technicians and their supervisors, and the greater investigative community that includes faculty, staff, and students. The common response to any DCM facility issue is, “Has Jack been notified?” During Jack’s tenure the Division has brought on-line three new animal facilities and extensively renovated others. Jack has been involved as a key member of DCM in all of these projects. Most recently he worked tirelessly to resolve the myriad facility issues associated with opening the animal facility in the new Koch Institute.


Amanda C. Graham, MIT Energy Initiative
Amanda’s special attributes of intense dedication, creativity, innovativeness, and sense of humor were essential in launching several programs of the Energy Initiative. As Director of the MITEI Education Office, Amanda played a key role shepherding the creation of the Society of Energy Fellows at MIT, adopting the Energy Minor, and establishing a robust Energy UROP program. Her attention to her colleagues and to students whom she tirelessly supports is rarely encountered. She is a true gem who deserves to be recognized with an Infinite Mile Award.


Ron Hasseltine, Office of the Provost
Ron was nominated separately by the Koch Institute and the Office of Sponsored Programs, and one nominator remarked that “there should be a category that is at least ten levels above ‘above and beyond’ in order to encompass everything he does” for MIT. Credited with initiatives, assistance, and solutions too numerous to recount, Ron is lauded for his deep institutional knowledge, commitment, problem solving skills, insight, and creativity. He is a master of both the big-picture outlook and the small, important details. His accessibility, collaborative approach, warmth, and willingness to teach others are exemplary, and those who work with him learn and perform better because of him.


Laureen Horton, Office of Sponsored Programs
As manager of a team of five Contract Administrators, as well as maintaining a full department portfolio, Laureen has quite a full workload. In the world of research administration she is a “Superwoman,” catching errant contract terms and negotiating-out the issues before DLCs even know there is a problem, or finding overlooked proposal errors and helping to resolve them. Laureen also serves MIT’s research community as a liaison for almost all of the Federal Agency research Sponsors. She is the first to volunteer and her door is rarely closed for questions, no matter how random. The lengths Laureen will go in order to support her colleagues and keep the office running smoothly set a wonderful example for OSP.


Mary Markel Murphy, Research Laboratory of Electronics
Mary received praise in two separate nominations; one in the context of her prior Media Lab position, and the other in her relatively new position as Assistant Director for Administration and Human Resources in the Research Laboratory of Electronics. “The Magic of Mary” is a result of her high standards, leadership, administrative skill, and positive attitude. Mentoring and inspiring those around her, Mary’s presence has had an immediate and profound impact on RLE. Mary approaches each task with a characteristically calm, diligent and professional manner, remaining courteous, diplomatic, polite, and respectful to all.


Marlisha McDaniels, Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies
Marlisha has worked at MIT for 24 years in various positions, and has been Executive Administrative Assistant to the ISN directors for the past four years. Her professional, friendly, and courteous manner is an important asset for the ISN, as she makes a wonderful impression on colleagues and visitors from academic, Army and industry circles. Marlisha is proactive, taking the burden of a number of administrative tasks off the to-do lists of the lab managers and ensuring the smooth operation of new initiatives. Simply stated, Marlisha exemplifies the ethos of collegiality, respect and service that is essential to fulfilling the ISN mission.


Mary McGonagle, Office of Sponsored Programs
Mary is unfailingly professional, unflaggingly helpful, extremely experienced and gently wise. A contract administrator of the highest order, Mary approaches deadlines with grace and kindness. She is the “go-to person” for situations both normal and highly irregular. She never lets a proposal slip through the cracks; often following up when a principle investigator hasn’t responded to her questions or requests for additional materials. Mary’s advice and judgment are highly valued by both faculty and administrators.


Monica Pegis, Research Laboratory of Electronics
Monica supports three faculty members, and is always willing to do more for the research groups. Indeed, last year she took on much more responsibility with the establishment of the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Center. She is a team player who uplifts the people around her, often taking on additional responsibilities to help faculty and students be more productive. She is precise, wise and decisive, quickly earning the respect of all that interact with her always available for another mission. She is a one-woman powerhouse whose dedication to MIT students and our educational mission are second to none.


Julie Pryor, McGovern Institute for Brain Research
Julie has exceeded all expectations at the McGovern Institute, and has become indispensible to its smooth and efficient operation. As a team player with tremendous initiative, competence, and energy, Julie has taken on substantial responsibilities that go well beyond what was originally envisaged for her position. With only minimal supervision, she has assumed day-to-day responsibility for all McGovern Institute communications, and managed all aspects of a highly successful promotional video, including elements that normally would have been managed by outside professionals. The Institute regularly benefits from her expertise, good judgment, and willingness to learn and go well beyond her role.


Audrey Resutek, Office of the Provost
Even though she splits her time between the Office of Institutional Research and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Audrey has quickly become an integral member of the team. In addition to her high performance of tasks normally expected of an administrative assistant, she has taken on many additional responsibilities involving research, writing, editing, and designing. She deserves particular recognition for her outstanding role on the MIT Briefing Book, which serves as an invaluable tool for the MIT Washington Office and the Office of the Provost.


Mike Rowell, Plasma Science and Fusion Center
Mike is a role model for professionalism and dedication to MIT. He has worked at MIT for 31 years, the last seven of these as Alternator Supervisor in the Plasma Science and Fusion Center’s Alcator C-Mod group. Mike is the in-house expert, continually learning complex new systems and providing invaluable technical and supervisory support. His vast experience and good judgment allow him to swiftly resolve problems and make sound decisions about critical work that needs to be done. Mike is a team player, and his persistent positive attitude motivates the students, technicians, engineers and scientists who work with him on difficult tasks.


Frank Shefton, Plasma Science and Fusion Center
Employed at MIT for 42 years, Frank embodies the MIT spirit in his unwavering positive attitude and willingness to do whatever is needed to contribute to the success of the Alcator C-Mod project. Frank has taken on additional responsibility for a vital component of C-Mod’s experimental program that requires considerable skill and diligence. His expertise, dedication and reliability are exceptional. In addition to key technical support which enables reliable and safe operation, Frank is proactive and makes consistent, high-quality contributions to the project. He always suggests and implements ways to improve systems as well as the instruments’ performance and reliability.


Amanda Tat, Center for Environmental Health Sciences
Amanda has been the Administrative Officer for MIT’s Center for Environmental Health Sciences for over three years. During this time she has earned the reputation of a team player with a strong work ethic and can-do attitude. Amanda has applied her remarkable talent and terrific organizational skills to ensuring the Center runs like clockwork. In addition, she has volunteered to serve on a large number of Institute-wide committees. Amanda is fiercely loyal to CEHS and conducts herself with the utmost professionalism.


Catrina Wong, Division of Comparative Medicine
As a veterinary technician, Catrina has provided exemplary service to the Institute, the Division, all those who have had the pleasure of working with her, and the research animals in her care. In addition to her many responsibilities, Catrina has readily taken on the challenge of improving animal welfare within DCM. She is knowledgeable, understanding, and helpful, and serves as a friendly and positive influence. Catrina frequently goes above and beyond her required tasks to assist others, and consistently provides excellent hands-on training to veterinary and research staff alike.



HST Finance Team – Irene Huang and Holly-Ann Paiva, Health Sciences and Technology
Irene Huang and Holly-Ann Paiva together demonstrate the professionalism, commitment to getting the job done, and personal integrity that exemplify the characteristics of Infinite Mile awardees. Irene, during her past six years at HST, is highly regarded for her knowledge of sponsored research and her responsiveness whenever department members have questions. Holly-Ann, at HST for the past two years, competently and efficiently performs work that was originally done by two financial assistants. As a team, Irene and Holly-Ann have exhibited leadership in numerous areas by streamlining processes and implementing a vital financial projection system for HST principal investigators.


The Koch Institute Team of Pam DiFraia and Lori Spindler, Koch Institute
During the Koch Institute’s move to Building 76, Pam DiFraia and Lori Spindler proved invaluable. Pam took on key distribution for the entire community (over 600 people) and Lori took on organizing HQ and 34 years of office “stuff”. In addition, these two achievers have been expertly managing a wide range of events on behalf of the Koch Institute for over five years. From research retreats to the annual KI retreat, to symposia and holiday parties; all events have been hailed with rave reviews. With a trained eye for every last detail, they consistently ensure that the event at hand has the right venue, atmosphere, food and structure – striking just the right balance between the science and the fun – to delight attendees.


The Koch Institute Finance Team, Koch Institute
Jack Cimino, Darlene McGurl, Suxin Hu, Dan Vongphayboun, Kathy Rose, and Valery Noghiessie
Each and every one of these team members has had an exceptional year at the Koch Institute, individually demonstrating the initiative to keep the Koch finance office running smoothly during a period of tremendous change. Major transitions over recent years include the shift in affiliation from the School of Science to the VPR Office and the move to a new building. Constant variations and increases in day-to-day responsibilities have been the norm. Team members have continued to perform at the highest level, solving new problems, supporting one another, and maintaining an upbeat, positive attitude. They have always been an integral part of the operations of the headquarters office and have consistently stepped up to the plate to help out no matter what the task.


The MIT 150 Exhibition Project Team, MIT Museum
Frank Conahan, Deborah Douglas, Allan Doyle, Kurt Hasselbalch, Laura Knott, Seth Riskin, Don Stidsen, Gary Van Zante, Ariel Weinberg, Joan Whitlow
This very dedicated group of Museum staff worked intensively over many months to plan, research, design, and install an extraordinary assemblage of artifacts for the year-long exhibition and permanent website for the Institute’s Sesquicentennial. These individuals worked creatively and persistently, as an ensemble, to create an indelible experience that celebrates the essence of MIT. The team employed innovative, collaborative approaches to identify and secure the many artifacts and artfully designed and installed the complex displays. We salute all of these individuals for their invaluable contributions to this successful and community-building event.