Recipients of the 2007 Schmitt Prize: Carol Casey and Allen Taylor
Carol began her Caltech career in 1987. After seven years in Geological and Planetary Sciences and in the Career Development Center, she became the receptionist in the Student-Faculty Programs Office. Since 1994 her portfolio has steadily expanded, as she has taken on responsibility for such programs as MURF, Axline SURF, and many more. She has successfully built coalitions of faculty, staff, and students in order to provide each student with a great summer undergraduate research experience. In recognition of her superlative performance, she was promoted to assistant and then associate director of Student-Faculty Programs.
Excerpts from the nominators' comments:
"Having been a faculty member at the Institute for 54 years, I have had the pleasure over the years of being helped by many of those staff whose contributions to the Institute embody the values and spirit that enable faculty members and students to achieve excellence in research and education. What is remarkable in light of all Carol's responsibilities is how quickly I receive a helpful reply to an e-mail cry for help with difficult, not-immediately soluble situations.
"I am personally very proud of the high quality of our student research programs. They have grown, developed, matured, and now serve hundreds of participants. That we do that with such a lean staff is remarkable. It is all because of Carol's extraordinary work."
"This person enjoys the unqualified trust, respect, and even affection from all interested constituencies, and I expect you to hear from all of them. This is the 'go-to' person for virtually all the logistical details of all our programs, and she has strong professional relationships with faculty in all divisions. The faculty always call when they have questions about the details of the application/award process or how to pay for their participants. They will also call to find out how a student is performing or if there are any other concerns. Faculty members appreciate the dedication and personal care that Carol pours into work. She is recognized by all who work with her for her expertise, accuracy, thoroughness, and helpfulness. In fact, people volunteer to help with our program in large part because they like supporting Carol. Smart, dedicated, competent, thorough, hard working, responsible, and passionate, Carol does work of the highest quality and quantity and shows a love of our program and of Caltech."
"Carol richly deserves the honor and recognition of this staff award. She influences, supports, counsels, cheers, and encourages students, faculty, mentors, co-mentors, alumni, and donors. She does so with wit, humor, confidence, competence, and thoroughness. She provides unerring support for her colleagues, and for all the constituencies affiliated with our programs. Carol enthusiastically serves Caltech's mission through her personal dedication and loyalty, as well as her remarkable work ethic, capability, creativity, and competence."
Allen has been a member of the Caltech community for more than 40 years, but has been associated with Caltech for 65 years, a remarkable achievement since he is 63 years old. His mother, Violet Taylor, worked in Seismology for 25 years and married Allen's stepfather, Francis Lehner, also from Seismology. You could say the Taylors and Caltech are truly a family affair. Allen's duties in Transportation include delivering 500-pound Dewars containing liquid nitrogen and smaller cylinders containing other chemical gases for use in experiments in Caltech laboratories. Allen also delivers packages from Central Shipping and Receiving and helps move office furniture and scientific equipment.
Excerpts from the nominators' comments:
"Many awards here at Caltech recognize intellectual achievement, and that is appropriate for this organization where intellectual capital is such a highly valued commodity. However, Caltech may be overlooking the inputs from those whose work involves hard physical labor in service of the Caltech mission."
"Allen Taylor has been a fixture at Caltech for 40 years. Anyone who has worked for any length of time in any aspect of experimental (wet lab) science or teaching laboratory courses knows our nominee. For most of his long career he has almost single-handedly provided a service essential to Caltech. Sadly, however, in spite of being widely recognized, few people know his name. If you ask researchers who use his liquid nitrogen services if they know Allen, chances are they will say they don't. However, to put Allen's contributions in perspective, without liquid nitrogen, Professor Robert Grubbs would have been unable to perform much of his research, which requires a nitrogen atmosphere."
"Allen knows his job well. He can handle tanks weighing 500 to 600 pounds and move them into difficult locations. Over the years we have seen more junior people hired to assist our nominee, but they typically last only six months due to the hard work it requires. It is a testament to Allen's dedication and durability."
"Allen takes it on himself to make sure researchers get what they need, even tracking down a researcher or lab coordinator to secure approval for a needed task that has been overlooked."
"Recently we experienced problems with liquid nitrogen tanks venting through safety valves due to excessive pressure buildup, a noisy and at times disturbing event. To address this problem, we engaged Allen to conduct a seminar for students, staff, and faculty on the proper use of high-pressure liquid nitrogen tanks. We were astounded at what a terrific seminar he gave. He impressed everyone with his knowledge, his ability to convey it to researchers in our division, and how deftly he answered every question that was raised. We learned a lot about handling liquid nitrogen; we learned even more about appreciating unexpected dimensions of an outstanding employee who has served Caltech with dedication, excellence, and humility for 40 years."