Supervisor, Phys Chem Lab
Instructional Support Operations
Dante Valdez is the January 2018 recipient of the Chemistry Achievement Prize.
Dante works in the Department of Chemistry's Instructional Support Unit and has been an integral part of the laboratory staff for over 15 years. As a student in the chemistry department he worked as a student assistant in the lower division stockroom. After graduating and a short break from UC Berkeley, he returned as a stockroom supervisor. Dante currently manages the stockroom for the upper division labs where he is responsible for ordering materials for labs, verifying experiments are running as expected, ensuring EH&S compliance and enforcement, and managing instrumentation maintenance and repair. Dante really enjoys working with undergraduate students, which is evident by the comments in his nominations; "He was always very helpful, going beyond his required duties, and helped to ensure that technical issues during classes were quickly resolved"; "He not only taught me how to use all of the instrumentation for Chem 108, but would willingly assist students with their own characterization and experiments if I was preoccupied with other students"; "He provides a high level of service to everyone who shows up at his door with a question or need for help". Dante also likes that he gets to learn new things all the time. This may not seem possible for someone who has been in a role for 15 years, but when an experimental set up goes down, a new experiment is developed, or new equipment is purchased that is when Dante gets to learn something new. That becomes very apparent when you read the four nominations that were received for him. "He is the glue that holds together the advanced laboratories, troubleshooting many different setups, and advising, instructing, and servicing all the challenging experiments for students, teaching assistants, and faculty, alike. Time and again an experimental setup goes down, and Dante resurrects it with efficiency and skill. "and "He advises me when we should replace ancient instruments, finds the suppliers, and develops expertise for their use and maintenance."
Dante's commitment to the students, faculty, and the college has truly demonstrated the ideals of the CAP and the Berkeley Operating Principles.
In his spare time Dante enjoys brewing his own beer and traveling. He has traveled to Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, throughout the U.S. and multiple countries in Europe including Italy, Germany, Switzerland, France and the UK. In the future, he hopes to travel to Spain, Ireland, and Italy (again!).
The Chemistry Achievement Prize (CAP) is a peer-oriented program designed to recognize outstanding and noteworthy service of staff members in the College of Chemistry. The intent is to recognize individuals who have made exceptional contributions that are above and beyond the normal expectations of their role and who are living the Berkeley Operating Principles in their everyday work.
All staff members (full and part-time) are eligible for nomination. A committee comprised of employees from various CoC units will serve a one-year term to review award nominations and select one award recipient per quarter.
How to Nominate
Nominate a colleague by submitting this online submission form.
Award recipients will receive a $75 value gift card, be recognized on the College’s CAP website, and presented with a certificate of recognition which is displayed in the Dean’s Office.
Below are previous recipients of the Chemistry Achievement Prize
Faculty Support Administrator, Department of Chemistry
Leslie Dietterick is the October 2017 recipient of the Chemistry Achievement Prize.
Leslie has worked in the Department of Chemistry for over two years and is a Faculty Support Administrator (FSA) supporting Professors Phillip Geissler and Eran Rabani. Both of her professors nominated Leslie for her innovation, determination, and positive attitude especially when handling obstacles. Earlier this year while setting up for a big event, Leslie was stuck in an elevator. Rather than panic, or become stressed, she was able to stay calm and continue to guide her colleagues about the logistics from inside the elevator. Additionally, one of her biggest feats is coordinating the annual Berkeley Statistical Mechanics meeting which draws over 100 attendees from all over the world. Leslie has readily taken the responsibilities of budgeting, scheduling, catering, reimbursement, and more to ensure the success of this event. Professor Geissler stated, “I have never worked with someone who combines such determination with an abundance of friendly energy”.
Leslie is also known for her delicious baking which she brings into the office to share with everyone. She says that baking is a relaxing hobby that she enjoys very much. All those around her are appreciative not only of her baked goods but also for the enthusiasm she brings to the department. Leslie Silvers added, “All this is done (and done well) with enthusiasm and a spirit of fun which is infectious and makes the department a wonderful place to work”. She is also co-chair of the Chemistry Enrichment Committee and writes the department newsletter.
Outside of her busy work schedule, and in between baking, Leslie still manages to find time to support her community. She volunteers for a non-profit organization called East Bay Conversation Project which is dedicated to promoting understanding and engagement in advanced care planning. Leslie is passionate about being involved and went back to school graduating in 2013 with a degree in Social Welfare and Anthropology. She is compassionate, helpful, and supportive in many ways and it clearly shows in all that she does.
Congratulations to Leslie on a well-deserved award!
Emanuel "Manny" Druga
Electrician, College of Chemistry R&D Engineering Support Services
Emanuel "Manny" Druga is the July 2017 recipient of the Chemistry Achievement Prize.
Manny has been working at the College of Chemistry R&D shops as an electrician for the last 15 years. He has grown to love the close knit community and atmosphere at the College. Manny clearly demonstrates the ideals of the CAP in his daily work, especially as an expert in his field. A common value that his nominators have expressed is that Manny is innovative. "He is resourceful and imaginative, he innovates creatively when no easy solutions present themselves". They have also stated that he is a "force of nature and helps form a whole that is bigger than the sum of the parts together with other staff colleagues". It's clear that Manny enjoys his work. He is most passionate about collaborating on prototype projects and learning from faculty. He finds pride in helping with projects and aims at finding the most efficient and cost effective way to get the work done.
Before arriving at the College of Chemistry Manny worked at Pixar, a company known for creativity and innovation, which has transpired to his skillset. He then landed a position as a contractor for UC Berkeley as part of the Seismic Renovation project for the College of Chemistry. While working on this project, he realized he wanted to be a part of the academic community and when a position opened, he reached out and applied. We are fortunate that Manny has been with the College for 15 years, continuing to innovate and imagine every day.
In his spare time, Manny loves working on electronics and working on his CNC machine where he designs and repurposes furniture. He also loves teaching his daughters coding and working on projects with them. Manny and his wife are also a part of Rooms of Hope, a non-profit organization which offers dream bedroom makeovers for children with life-threatening illnesses.
Instructional Support Operations, Department of Chemistry
The CAP selection committee is pleased to announce that Karen Chan is the April 2017 Chemistry Achievement Prize recipient!
Karen works in the Department of Chemistry's Instructional Support Unit and has been an integral part of the laboratory support staff for many years. She worked in the General Chemistry stock room as a student and continued after graduation. She currently manages the Instructional Lab Demonstration Facility where she is responsible for setting up, running, and taking down experiments for Chemistry classes in Pimental Hall. For a portion of this academic year, Karen spent extra time filling in when the unit became unexpectedly short-staffed while continuing to perform her regular job duties. She has taken over the day to day operations of a busy undergraduate laboratory stockroom which serves between 1,000 and 1,500 students each semester, all while working overtime and weekends assisting instructors to ensure that both jobs are done accurately and with minimum disruptions to students. Karen even had the time to pioneer a new method of purchasing gases which made the College greener.
One of Karen’s favorite parts of her job is Cal Day where she’ll be working with Dr. Michelle Douskey for the 9th year in a row. Karen takes pride in seeing children amazed at all the demonstrations on Cal Day and their overall enthusiasm to learn more about science. Karen also finds tremendous joy working with her students who she refers to as “her kids”. She spends a great deal of time mentoring them and finds it very rewarding to make a difference in their lives.
Karen's willingness to step in and help along with her commitment to the students and the college has truly demonstrated the ideals of the CAP and the Berkeley Operating Principles.
In Karen’s spare time, she enjoys cake decorating and taking part in bake offs where she has previously won the inaugural Chemistry bakeoff. She also bakes for her friends, and family. She has baked science themed cakes that involve beakers and has also baked a Pokémon cake with Pokeballs for her twin nieces’ birthday. What an amazing auntie!
Academic Personnel Coordinator, Department of Chemistry
Lauren is the Academic Personnel Coordinator in the Department of Chemistry and handles all of the academic cases including the very detailed tasks of coordinating the recruitment of new faculty. We received an overwhelming five nominations for Lauren, not to mention the multiple times she was nominated in the past. Her colleagues clearly think highly of her work and dedication to the success of the department. She is knowledgeable, dependable, and organized and those that work with her consider her a "hidden gem" in the department. Department Chair David Wemmer stated that Lauren is "extremely well organized and conscientious in her work, and deals with the many (often last minute) demands with a great attitude and a smile" and "gets everything in place without fail". Lauren definitely goes well above the call of duty and represents the ideals of the CAP and the Berkeley Operating Principles.
Lauren has been with the Department of Chemistry for six years. After graduating from UC Davis in 2007 with a BS in Managerial Economics, Lauren took a position in the Geology Department at Davis, working in HR, payroll, and academic personnel. She made lasting friendships with colleagues there and though she enjoyed living in Davis, by summer of 2011, she felt it was time to venture out of Aggie-land and explore new possibilities. She wanted to stay in the UC system, so she applied and interviewed for a position in MCB, in RES, and in Chemistry at UC Berkeley. As she was offered each position, lucky for us, the MSO in Chemistry reached out to Lauren quickly offering her the Academic Personnel position. It was an instant and perfect match for all parties. Lauren says there are many rewarding aspects of her job but most of all, she enjoys the interaction with faculty and staff and is thrilled to be a part of the UC community and a world-class department. She is very appreciative of her time here.
Outside of the office Lauren enjoys running and has participated in the Disneyland Half-Marathon run five times, meeting her goal of under two hours the last two runs. She loves to cook and bake and has brought in to share with us the most wonderful cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. She also likes to knit and crochet.
Lauren grew up in Fresno, where her family still resides. She looks forward to going home for visits as often as she can. Last spring she and her family went to Japan for two weeks, meeting up with distant relatives, exploring the sites, and eating the best tonkatsu in the world. She said it was a most fascinating time.
Many of you may not know this, but Lauren has a true love in her life. His name is Herman. He’s a stuffed bear about 10 inches tall and has been her companion for about 30 years. Herman often travels with her, and he even went to Japan with her last spring. Feel free to stop by Lauren's office to see a photo of Herman in front of the Tokyo Skytree.
Administrative Assistant, Chemistry Instructional Support Operations
Meggie works in the Chemistry Instructional Support Operations unit and is the person responsible for the arduous task of scheduling and classroom management. With the implementation of the new Campus SIS system many issues arose and Meggie stepped up and came to the aide of many students and colleagues by providing quick and accurate service fixing many of the scheduling problems. She received multiple nominations and praises for her calmness, professionalism, and courteous service during this time. Even with very little training Meggie was able to use the new system to get everyone on board, making it seem effortless on her part. Without her quick and thoughtful judgement and problem solving abilities this fall semester would have been disastrous for many. She is considered an "unsung hero" among her colleagues in the instructional unit and has proven to exemplify the Berkeley Operating Principles of "We simplify" and "We focus on service" to the greatest degree.
Meggie, a Berkeley native, is back after spending several years away from the area. She's very pleased to be on campus surrounded by all the exciting research and innovative work occurring here. Please join us in congratulating Meggie on a job well done!
Undergraduate Adviser, College of Chemistry
As the lead student adviser in the College's Que Undergraduate Advising Center, Maura Daly is someone who embodies the importance of teamwork in her day to day life. It’s clear from the multiple nominations she received that her positive attitude influences those around her. She is being recognized for demonstrating the principles of “we include and excel, together” and “we focus on service” in her work with students, colleagues, and others on campus.
Maura is also actively involved in projects on campus that celebrate the diversity in our community which “helps improve the campus climate for all constituencies”. Her contributions have been invaluable to the College of Chemistry students and to the entire advising community on campus. She actively includes and shares her wealth of knowledge with everyone around her. This was especially apparent during the challenging transition to the new student information system and navigating the new transfer admissions process. She ensured that the transition was seamless and that the students would only be affected in the most positive way.
Maura is a true team player who exhibits compassion and patience. She attributes her calm demeanor from her 35 years of practicing the Japanese martial art, Aikido. Recently Maura was featured on the Staff Appreciation Week “Staff Spotlight” where she shared how her skills in the practice of Aikido have helped her in her daily work at Cal. She is one of only a few women around the world who have achieved a high degree black belt in the practice, yet she remains humble and understands the importance of continuing self-development. Please help us in congratulating and thanking Maura for her service and dedication to the College of Chemistry!
Check out the “Staff Spotlight” video here:
Graduate Student Affairs Manager, Chemistry
Over the years Lynn Keithlin is someone who has quietly worked behind the scenes in the Graduate Student Office in the Department of Chemistry. Lynn has been with the College of Chemistry since 2001 where she started out working in the Dean's Office. She then became a Graduate Student Advisor in the Department of Chemistry where she has been since 2002. She has stated that she truly enjoys working with the students and it clearly shows in her cheerful and pleasant demeanor and in the excellent service that she provides.
Now at the forefront as the Graduate Student Affairs Manager she certainly stands out as someone who represents the principle of "We focus on service" to the greatest degree. Over the last few months in a time of transition Lynn has gracefully stepped into her complex role and has gone out of her way to ensure that any changes were seamless to the students, faculty, and staff that she interacts with. She is knowledgeable about campus resources and without her dedication to the students there would be serious fallout of student appointments. Her guidance and helpful and calm attitude have kept things in the office running smoothly.
Other than keeping busy in the office Lynn enjoys spending time with her two granddaughters. She looks forward to the weekends where they often have "sleepovers at grandma's". The joy and enthusiasm that she has talking about her granddaughters also carries in the way she talks about her students. She cares deeply and goes the extra mile for them. We would like to congratulate and thank Lynn for her commitment and hard work to the College!
Faculty Support Administrator, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Elena Lunt, Faculty Support Administrator (FSA) in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (CBE), is the January 2016 CAP recipient. Although her time in the department has been brief Elena is being recognized for her positive contributions to the department supporting four faculty members while stepping in to take the lead in administering the transition of a new faculty member. Additionally, she volunteered to take over the responsibilities of coordinating the weekly colloquium when the department was short-handed. With no prior experience she had quickly learned the process and was able to work through all the meticulous details and make things run smoothly. She has definitely proven to exemplify the Berkeley Operating Principle of "we include and excel, together" and her “positive and patient personality” has been invaluable to the department.
Outside of her busy schedule in the office, Elena enjoys the outdoors – fly fishing, backpacking, and gardening – and has recently undertaken an exciting new hobby of dying natural fibers, spinning and knitting them into beautiful scarves and other pieces. Prior to coming to UC Berkeley she worked in the non-profit industry and also attended graduate school at the University of Connecticut where she studied History and Human Rights.
Interim Department Manager for the Department of Chemistry
Faculty Support Administrator (FSA) for Professors Martin Head-Gordon and David Wemmer (Dept. Chair)
Leslie has proven over the years that multi-tasking is her comfort zone. Speaking to her current role, Prof. Wemmer writes, "...Leslie stepped in and took over the much larger job of keeping the Department Office functioning. This included planning the transition of staff required with retirement of others in the office, picking up management of all of the FSAs, and taking on the formidable task of getting the department's budget for the 2015-16 year into place, with many changes relative to past years including budget cuts. This required learning many new aspects of how the department operates.
At the same time she continues to provide M. Head-Gordon with FSA services. This has meant many extra hours of work for Leslie, she has been flexible in work time to be able to meet both internal and external deadlines." So we know what she brings to her job, but when asked what her job brings to her, she answers, "The opportunity to work with intelligent and logical people." Well, you know what they say: chemists have all the solutions!
Faculty Support Administrator in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
A returning member of UC Berkeley’s staff, Joel was nominated by Elena Lunt, a fellow FSA in CBE. Elena cited Joel’s knowledge and resourcefulness as being a valuable asset in the construction, testing and implementation of the college-wide Chemistry Complex Building Access project. “He took initiative to collaborate with the creator of the system to make sure that all the glitches were addressed and staff had proper training. Joel also took on the role of liaison, collecting feedback that he could synthesize for easy transfer to the key system programmer.” Read the CAP news article.
Receptionist for the College of Chemistry
Doris was nominated for the CAP award by Geralyn Unterberg, the Dean's Analyst for Academic Personnel. Geralyn cited Doris' outstanding work ethic, her ability to establish professional relationships with on-and off-campus entities and her unique and welcoming style. Reacting to a serious water leak that flooded the dean's office, Geralyn wrote that "Doris was able to quickly order the furniture that the dean needed for his renovated office by setting up arrangements with the vendors for payment and delivery within two days." Geralyn's nomination also noted Doris' assistance to Esayas Kelkile in ordering the chairs needed for the PDP move to the 4th floor of Latimer, working with Mike Brateng on processing a rush order for the renovation of a professor's lab and ably serving as the dean's decision-maker on constant requests for use of 775 Tan Hall. Read the CAP news article.
Faculty Support Administrator for Professors Bell, Prausnitz, and Maboudian (January 2015)
The CAP Committee is pleased to announce that Kristin Stangl is the January 2015 CAP Recipient. Kristin is being recognized for her excellent work in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE) as faculty support administrator for Professors Bell, Prausnitz, and Maboudian. She exemplifies the Berkeley Operating Principle of "We focus on service" by clearly making a positive impact to all who cross her path. Her nominator says she "generously provides whatever is needed, always with a friendly face". As a faculty support administrator she has been instrumental in keeping things running smoothly for the faculty, students, and visitors, ensuring that their needs are met and going above the call of duty to do so. Read the news article.
Operations Manager, Yaghi Research Group (October 2014)
Karen Wong, operations manager in the research group of chemistry professor Omar Yaghi, is the newest recipient of the Chemistry Achievement Prize. A long time College of Chemistry staff member, Karen’s exemplary role in establishing the Yaghi lab at Berkeley was what spurred Professor Yaghi to make the nomination.
Professor Yaghi wrote “When I moved down from the Molecular Foundry a year and a half ago, my research accounts were still in transition from UCLA, my students were also mixed between those who joined at Berkeley and those who are still at UCLA, my laboratory space was tight and required careful planning to make everything fit, and on top of all this, the number of lab researchers was growing rapidly. Karen went to work on all these important issues and within a short period of time (approximately three months) she was able to transfer the accounts to Berkeley, establish the new students and postdoctoral fellows at Berkeley, and help organize our lab space to accommodate the new lab members while at the same time configure the space for all the equipment. She managed to do all this without having us stop our research work, and more importantly without any researchers missing a day of work or a day of pay.”
Yaghi added that Karen provided invaluable help in bringing about the establishment of the California Research Alliance – CARA by BASF – to the College, an initiative that Yaghi co-directs with Professor Peidong Yang.
Karen says she enjoys working with the Yaghi group because “Professor Yaghi is so inclusive. He brings in external experts to visit his research group, runs a global mentoring program and shares knowledge and discoveries with other researchers.”
In her spare time, Karen enjoys gardening and aspires to grow a garden that will sustain the vegetable, fruit and herb needs for her family.
Storekeeper / College of Chemistry (July 2014)
If you ordered a package in the College of Chemistry, chances are it was delivered by CAP award winner Roy Washington. Roy is a Storekeeper in Shipping and Receiving and was nominated for the award by his supervisor, Carl Lamey.
Carl writes “Roy has been with the Shipping/Receiving Unit since 2007, and was hired during a period when we were contending with a high staff turnover rate. His presence has helped to smooth out the operation tremendously, and it performs efficiently to this very day due to Roy’s continued diligence.
The UC Operating Principle he demonstrates most clearly is his focus on service. The impact Roy makes on our unit is noticeable throughout the College, especially his willingness to exceed what is expected of him. He continually looks for ways to perform above and beyond the call of duty.”
Roy says that the award “means that people do notice what I do – and that it is appreciated.” He is especially honored to have the support of his supervisor.
Before coming to UC Berkeley, Roy managed paint stores for 26 years, and maintains a “tinkering” business where he repairs and maintains spray painting equipment. He is the father of a son and a daughter and has three grandsons.
HR Assistant / Receptionist, College of Chemistry (April 2014)
Jason Huynh started working the College of Chemistry when he was a student as an HR assistant. After graduating he continued to work in the HR office and then helped in at the front desk as the part time receptionist. With every assignment he was given Jason took the time to think of how things could be done more efficiently. He has gone above and beyond expectations and has contributed significantly to various projects that would leave a lasting positive impact to the workflow. His colleagues refer to him as "bright and innovative". He provides excellent service to students, staff, faculty and other visitors and has shown that he "goes the extra mile to lend a helping hand."
Jason recently graduated from Cal where he studied Nutrition and Public Health. He is always seeking opportunities to learn and hopes to do so during his upcoming trip around the world. He aspires to one day help people in the community in the field of family medicine. It is apparent from Jason's focus on service to the College community that he will be successful in his field.
Faculty Support Administrator, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (January 2014)
Jessica is one of the College’s newest staff members and in the eight months that she has been with the Department of CBE she has proven herself as a highly exceptional employee. As a Cal graduate with a double major in Russian Language and Literature and Native American Studies, Jessica has carried her enthusiasm for learning to her job. She has quickly absorbed and understood the intricacies of her job and has helped advance the work of the faculty that she supports. She is valued by her peers and the faculty for her tenacity to resolve problems and accomplish time-sensitive projects with accuracy and attention to detail.
Additionally, Jessica co-founded a book club with some of her fellow colleagues and graduate students. Her positive attitude and friendliness is infectious to those around her, and her willingness to learn has inspired innovative ideas that contribute to the successes of the College.
Accounts Payable Coordinator, Business Administration & Financial Services (October 2013)
Angelique joined the College of Chemistry in 2010 as the Accounts Payable and Gas Cylinder Coordinator. She is a recent graduate of Holy Names University where she obtained her B.A. in Business Management and has demonstrated a strong knowledge of the University’s complex accounting procedures. Angelique has been a helpful resource to many and those who have worked with her have said that Angelique “not only shows the highest customer service when dealing with us but always finds the solution to the problem”.
Angelique is being recognized for playing a key role in resolving an invoicing problem with one of the College’s biggest vendors. She worked with various units on Campus to ensure that critical research in the College did not come to a halt. Because of her strong relationships with vendors and Campus colleagues the day-to-day operations in the College have run smoothly. It has been said that “we need more people like Angelique on Campus”.
Administrative Officer, Iglesia Group (July 2013)
Kim Strasburg has been with the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering since 2011 and has been with the University for almost 20 years in various departments. Throughout her experience at the University Kim has been recognized for her strong analytical and problem solving skills. She takes the initiative to identify ways to improve processes among the faculty, staff, and other campus units. Her colleagues state that she “is always finding ways to establish informal but essential communication lines between CBE staff members so that we can share resources and solutions to tricky and unusual problems." Her resourcefulness and attention to detail have resulted in efficient practices and improved processes within the department.