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2024 Infinite Mile Award Winners



Individual awards


Dora Bever

Dora oversees a team of educators who work with students, teachers, families, and other visitors at the Museum. Whether she’s planning a neuroscience showcase, leading a workshop for Cambridge 7th graders, or helping a visitor make a kinetic sculpture in the Museum’s Maker Hub, Dora models and fosters a welcoming and inclusive culture for all with her kindness, creativity, and intentionality.

As one colleague put it, “Dora is an asset not only to the MIT Museum but also the wider MIT and Cambridge communities for her ability to collaborate and design engaging interactions between science and society.”


Amanda Saeli

Our next award recipient is Amanda Saeli [SAY-LEE]. Amanda has been with Solve for over three years and has made a tremendous impact in this relatively short time. Amanda’s work spans the organization with event registration oversight, email workflows, and business development support. She’s always willing to raise a hand to support any team member and has an innate ability to communicate with wit and kindness, which makes Amanda a celebrated and respected colleague to the entire Solve team. One nominator noted, “Amanda’s work ethic is only exceeded by her exceptionally positive and patient demeanor.”


Steven Shannon

Next is Steven Shannon whose dedication and tireless efforts have left an indelible mark on the research community at the McGovern Institute. He is known throughout MIT’s brain imaging community for his meticulous management of the imaging facility.

Since joining MIT in 2006, his commitment to ensuring the seamless operation of a busy facility has been exemplary. One faculty member said, “He is available at all hours and makes seemingly impossible tasks – like scanning human infants and toddlers – possible through his careful stewardship.” Another said, “We are extraordinarily lucky to have his good-humored and highly competent guidance at our scanning facility.”


Wontaek “Won” Chung

Won provides technical skills training for MIT vet techs and coordinates their involvement in lab animal care and research at the Division of Comparative Medicine and across the Institute. Trainees who nominated him call him an encouraging teacher, patient and kind, and supportive of skill building and growth. Won’s training instills compassionate animal care alongside technical proficiency, constantly drawing on the latest science to impart better methods and techniques. He brings a deep sense of commitment and responsibility to his work.

Nominators said Won’s gift for teaching, deep knowledge, and hard work have contributed to stronger skill levels, consistency, and confidence among the staff. Won has fostered a collaborative learning environment to the benefit of every employee and researcher, and every animal in their care at the Institute.


Jack Cimino

Jack arrived at the Koch Institute as an account manager more than 20 years ago and has become a pillar of the community. He possesses an incredible work ethic, a steadfast willingness to collaborate, and an intrinsic ability to lead.

While the complexity of Jack’s grant and philanthropic funds portfolio cannot be overstated, Jack and his team provide faculty with timely and accurate financial reporting and an uninterrupted flow of support for scientific research. He brings consistency, rigor, and dependability to the Koch Institute’s finances.

Colleagues say he is gracious and incredibly generous with his time. He is an outstanding manager who sets a high bar for a welcoming and inclusive team, leading by example. Jack represents the very best of MIT.


Rowan Elowe

Rowan joined the MIT Energy Initiative in 2018 and has been a joyful, supportive, intelligent, and hard-working team member ever since. Rowan began as an administrative assistant. Since then, he has overseen 10 undergraduate co-op students and now manages the Energy Studies Minor. He created five faculty-led online energy education courses and one Xseries bundle. His colleagues call him a firecracker.

Rowan is known for his patience, follow-through, and ability to absorb knowledge quickly. He is also enthusiastic, dedicated, kind, and empathetic. Students noted “his intentional efforts to see others’ opinions and incorporate diverse points of view,” and his commitment to mentoring.

Rowan’s warm presence extends even to the online learners taking his courses—120,000 and counting.


Maria Gatu-Johnson

Maria joined MIT as a postdoc in 2010 and is now a principal research scientist. As Maria’s nominators note over and over, she is a brilliant and accomplished researcher who, despite being so early in her career, has made incredible contributions to her field and won many prestigious awards.

Maria’s nominators also mention the word “kind” many times, along with “encouraging,” “humble,” and “inspirational.” Noted for her strength as a mentor to students in her group, Maria makes a special effort to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. In essence, they said she “makes decisions that prioritize the needs of others.” She’s an outstanding scientist and colleague.


Keith Kun

One nominator called Keith “the busiest person I know who will always drop what he’s doing and turn his whole attention to anyone who needs to talk.”

And Keith is certainly busy. He oversees Division of Comparative Medicine’s service center operation, the administration of the sponsored research portfolio, the HR needs of a growing staff, appointments for students enrolled in comparative medicine training programs, and aspects of MIT’s compliance with the regulatory requirements for the use and care of research animals.

Colleagues credit his collaborative mindset, self-awareness, kindness, and persistence. Keith is praised as a role model, with a positive, caring attitude that colleagues strive to emulate. Whether mentoring others, mediating conflicts, or seeing a colleague through a tough time, Keith models a culture of trust and respect.

As one nominator put it, “Keith is relentless in seeing DCM succeed and grow as a department and a family.”


Cindy Matheson

Cindy’s job in RLE, as the leader of the pre-award fiscal team, is to prepare complex proposals for research funding.

She is credited as the person “most singly responsible” for the success of RLE’s recent integration of the Microsystems Technology Laboratory. The transition meant that RLE staff would take on the preparation of all new MTL funding proposals. The challenge was that until those proposals were funded, there would be no allocation to support additional staffing.

Cindy deserves thanks for carrying RLE and MTL through a crucial period. Her hard work, effective management, and professional expertise ensured the on-time submission of strong, successful proposals, to the benefit of MIT faculty and researchers.


Erin Mathieu

As a first point of contact for many people at DCM, Erin wears many hats. She is knowledgeable about everything from the routines of the animals in DCM’s care to the HVAC systems overhead. When researchers are working with biological, chemical, radioactive, x-ray, or laser hazards in DCM facilities, Erin’s on point, promoting a safe working environment for everyone.

Her colleagues call her “remarkable,” a “resourceful and no-fuss problem solver” who relishes a challenge. They say she leads by example. She’s a versatile collaborator and a faithful ambassador of DCM in her interactions with other units.

Letters of support for her nomination came in from faculty, research staff, Environmental Health & Safety and facilities staff, lab managers, and animal care and veterinary staff. This award highlights her broad and remarkable impact.


John Mota

John is responsible for everything that is shipped into and out of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center. Whether it’s an Amazon box or an equipment delivery worth six figures, he handles it with the same amount of steadfast competence and unflappability. Amid the chaos inherent in orchestrating so many literal moving parts, John’s nominators said he is “meticulous and precise and orderly.”

What makes John extraordinary to his colleagues, though, is his care for other people. One nominator noted, “He gives me encouragement when I’m exhausted. … John is there for us.” His caring spirit and high regard for others extends beyond the MIT community because, as his colleagues note, every truck driver looks forward to seeing him, too.

His nominators put it best: “John has been walking the Infinite Mile for us since he came to our lab.”


Paul Nawazelski, Jr.

Since Paul joined NRL in 2006, his team spirit and innovative problem-solving approaches quickly had his colleagues recruiting him to take on more responsibilities. From tracking the reactor’s heavy water inventory to operating the 20-ton polar crane, Paul has welcomed new challenges, executing them with accuracy and accountability.

Hel played a crucial role in the recent repair and maintenance to restore the MIT Reactor to operational status after an outage spanning over a year, involving extensive dismantling and reassembly of major reactor components. Paul ensured that each step of the complicated and unprecedented process was carried out safely and meticulously.

For the past 18 years, Paul has maintained a high level of commitment with a signature approach that’s both low-key and realistic. Paul's outstanding dependability and integrity make him a trusted, valued member of the MIT community.



Team Awards

The Facilities and Safety Team at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center

The members of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center Facilities and Safety Team are responsible for everything from allocating space and renovating offices to ensuring radiological safety. According to one of their nominators, the team’s preparation, coordination, and planning are herculean.

This group is not just competent; they are compassionate and thoughtful. Their work extends far beyond the edges of their jobs to include nurturing the wellbeing of staff and especially of graduate students. Their nominators consistently pointed out how much additional work they do to create a successful and supportive environment.

“They represent the heart and soul of our workplace,” said one nominator. “It is hard to imagine life without them.”


Research@MIT app team

The awardees in this team exemplify collaboration and complex problem-solving. They include staff in the Research Administration Systems and Support group in the Office of the Vice President for Research, as well as in MIT Information Systems & Technology (IS&T).

The Research@MIT app is a research administration dashboard for principal investigators and the staff who support them. At a glance, PIs and departments can see their funding awards, expenses, proposals, agreements, intellectual property, and more. With functionality ever-expanding, and always responsive to the appreciative feedback of MIT’s research community, the app has become a vital tool in the day-to-day management of MIT research, enabling our talented faculty, staff, and students to do their best work.