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Testimonials for the 2012 Infinite Mile Award Winners

David Foss, Research Laboratory of Electronics
David Foss is a dynamo with intense dedication to the Research Laboratory of Electronics. Colleagues are grateful for his leadership, team building, and key role in fostering a warm, welcoming and supportive work environment. He is passionate about improving the quality of administrative services at RLE, and always comes up with ways to make services more efficient. David is a dedicated and influential mentor known for his professionalism, energy, collegiality, and strong service orientation. An expert in his field of information technology and knowledgeable in many other areas, he is always ready to take on another responsibility and provide solutions or guidance to the many people who come to him for help.


Dan Hu (known as Hu Dan), McGovern Institute for Brain Research
Along with her scientific and technical expertise, Hu Dan is celebrated at the McGovern Institute for being hardworking, kind, reliable, and extremely generous in using her time and talent to help others. She has a seemingly magical ability to simultaneously juggle several of her own projects while unfailingly helping others with theirs. Added to all her other responsibilities, she has become the go-to person for new people to the lab, training them in technically difficult procedures and helping students, postdocs, and employees all along the way. She inspires others with her talent, knowledge across many skill sets, strong work ethic, pride in a job well done, and enormous role as an experimenter, teacher, and generous colleague.


Heather Konar, Office of the Dean for Graduate Education
As the Communications Officer, Heather Konar has taken on a number of innovative and challenging projects in support of the graduate community. She has consistently demonstrated patience, creativity, problem solving, artistry, technical competence, hard work, and enthusiasm. Once of the most tangible results of these traits is a wonderful professional development video portal for graduate students. Heather developed in-house audio visual and editing capabilities, trained students, and coordinated the creation of a constantly evolving electronic library of MIT-sponsored videos in areas including communication, ethics, leadership, career management, and more. Heather’s vision and hard work in making this exciting project come to life are extraordinary.


Nan Lin, Research Laboratory of Electronics
People rely heavily on Nan Lin, and do not know how they would manage without her on-going exceptional assistance. As the Senior Fiscal Officer for RLE, Nan has provided financial planning and support for countless proposals. As one faculty member wrote, “she has been absolutely critical to many of these proposals’ preparation, some of which were indeed quite rushed, on very short notice, and infected with various kinds of bureaucratic hurdles. Every single time, she handled them professionally and promptly…often during the off-hours…I could not have maintained my research lab’s funding without her support and help… [Often], Nan quickly and promptly solved the problem herself or guided me to the solution.”


Rebecca Marshall-Howarth, MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI)
Rebecca shows creativity, enthusiasm, a sense of humor, and patience to all who work with and around her. As Communications Director, she places the needs of MIT and MITEI first and has an amazing “can do” attitude that includes a high degree of collegiality and professionalism. She always finds time to mentor co-workers even when operating under tight deadlines. Her many communication-related initiatives have directly contributed to MITEI’s recognition and impact, as have the multiple large-scale and high profile events that she has managed from start to finish. Rebecca always does more than what is required to further MITEI’s goals and successes, and we are delighted to recognize her dedication and far-reaching contributions.


Gail Monahan, Office of the Provost
Gail’s nomination included a chorus of people in a wide variety of positions singing her praises as an outstanding member of the community, devoted friend of the Institute, and highly competent, proactive, and enjoyable collaborator and colleague. In a high-profile office, Gail exemplifies the best in service to MIT and as a representative to the outside world, dealing professionally and discretely with all types of people and projects. Whatever the challenges, she makes things happen, juggling multiple tasks while keeping her cool and adding levity with her world-class sense of humor. Many go to Gail for answers and assistance, and she provides special service graciously and enjoys doing it no matter how much effort it takes.


Monica Orta, Office of the Dean for Graduate Education
Monica consistently models the attitudes and behaviors of the ideal engaged employee. She is always willing to take up a new learning opportunity and new challenge to help move the office forward, regularly seeing beyond her own work and thinking about how to work smarter and advance the office agenda. Her effectiveness, compassion, intellect, problem solving skills, and desire to make a difference in people’s lives have led to a steady expansion of her responsibilities and impact. Monica tirelessly contributes to the greater good and well-being of the team, enabling her colleagues to more effectively provide services to students, faculty, and administrators.


Karen (KT) Paul, Haystack Observatory
A senior administrative assistant in the Haystack Observatory, Karen handles not only ‘every day’  tasks for someone in that position, including filing, communications and clerical support for up to 90 employees and visitors, but she also coordinates several major conferences each year, flawlessly arranging all the details.  Research Experiences for Undergraduates, a program funded by the NSF, involves program announcements and marketing, the application process, transportation and housing for participants. Karen juggles a lot of logistics very well, and as her nominator wrote, “KT gets it done  - right and on time.  She is a delight and a perfect model of a senior administrative assistant”.


Nathan Rogers, Division of Comparative Medicine
Nathan’s claim to fame as a principal research scientist in the Division of Comparative Medicine is his ability in the area of training. Anyone who can make rodent training refresher courses memorable clearly has a lot of talent! A nominator wrote, “…Since joining DCM in 2002, Nate Rogers has worked his way up through different roles in the ranks to ultimately become responsible for all aspects of investigator training.”   “…Many at MIT consider Nate a cherished friend as well as a valued colleague. His infectious enthusiasm is a magnet for after-hours socializing and brainstorming that’s launched many research careers.”


Jocelyn Sales, Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology
Jocelyn is known for essentially building up the infrastructure of the MIT SMART program.  One nominator wrote, “Today SMART has extraordinary research facilities, a community of about 600 researchers, and an administrative system to support them... Jocelyn is responsible for several of the administrative developments, especially on the academic side.”  In addition, she has shown herself reliable when it comes to handling all VIP visits, including when President Hockfield met recently with the President of Singapore and other dignitaries.  But what was striking about many of the other numerous letters of recommendation is that they all emphasized that Jocelyn’s work doesn’t end with the workday.  Whether in Singapore or in the United States, she is available to the students at any time, and indeed organizes social activities and provides countless orientation activities to help students acclimate to their foreign work environment.  These are as critical to the success of the work as the work itself.


Gayle Sherman, MIT Sea Grant College Program
An administrative assistant in the MIT Sea Grant Program, Gayle plays a critical role in the success of the program with her problem-solving skills and her knowledge of MIT resources and practices, as well as her computer skills and her ability to prioritize goals.  She also shows good judgment and initiative.  One example is her streamlining and making more effective a training program for 900 lobstermen in creating business plans.  And though there was not a communications officer when she was hired, she has taken on many communications tasks without being formally asked.  In short, she is described as “exemplifying the best type of MIT employee.”


Krista Van Guilder, Research Laboratory of Electronics
The Manager of Media and Design in MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics, Krista is known for going above and beyond.  One example is the M+Vision program, whose overall media presence was created by Krista. Upon the departure of two key individuals, she took on many more facets of managing RLE’s involvement with this international program.  And, though not strictly speaking within her domain, Krista also redesigned the EECS Area VII web site.  She asked for and received approval to use her free time to undertake this task.  To quote one of her nominators, “Krista’s service is certifiably extraordinary and her work is truly exceptional.  She is the sort of person who makes MIT great and who promotes MIT’s image of greatness.  She does this by helping everyone she works with to be great and look great.“


Stephen Wolfe, Plasma Science and Fusion Center
Believed to be the most knowledgeable around when it comes to the Alcator-C Mod project, Stephen plays not only a pivotal role in upkeep and improving the machinery, but also in training graduate students and indeed all users how to learn the most possible from each experiment. As a nominator wrote, “He instigated the move to upgrade this to an all digital feedback system, and was instrumental in the hardware specifications, software architecture and implementation.”  Further, “He can be counted on to make constructive recommendations for nearly every experimental proposal.  He pays particularly close attention to the optimal approach to plasma operation that allows the graduate students to get the most they can out of their dedicated research run time, and is a premier mentor to the students.”



Institutional Research Team
Jon Daries, Greg Harris, Gingle Lee, Sonia Liou, Jag Patel, and Shirley Wong
Whether Deans and administrators are trying to get a better understanding of the most recent survey results or looking to the data to inform a strategic or tactical direction around a particular issue, the team is consistently creative in their approach, diligent in ensuring the integrity of their work, and responsive to what are often time-sensitive requests. At the same time, the team’s focus on continuously improving the questions, processes, and techniques used for data collection and analysis ensures the production of valid, relevant, and current data. According to one nominator, “They are priceless thinking partners in advancing the work of the Institute.”


Technology Licensing Office Team
Peter Bebergal, Kevin Fiala, Rolande Johndro, and Stanley King
Four energetic and enthusiastic associates in the Technology Licensing Office took it upon themselves to form a committee to produce and promote a TLO-centric event during the MIT 150 Open House. Their initiative, clever promotional activities, innovation, and commitment to planning and carrying out their vision resulted in a highly successful weekend event. The creative and dedicated committee thought of ways to make patents and licensing an exciting window into the effects of MIT’s research on the real world. The exhibits ranged from posters of famous MIT patents to demonstrations of successfully developed products and technology using MIT licenses. The arrangements and timing were meticulous and the enthusiasm of the visitors was contagious.