Recipients of the 2008 Schmitt Prize: Teesa Chmielewski and Dana Roth

Teesa Chmielewski

Teesa started her career at Caltech in 1981 as key clerk in the Lock Shop. In her free time she got involved in helping in other areas of the shop and found she enjoyed the mechanical work. She also seemed to have an aptitude for it and earned a four-year apprenticeship in the Lock Shop. Tessa was then promoted to journeyman locksmith and then master locksmith. She currently supervises the Lock Shop with its staff of three. The love of Teesa's life is her daughter, Megan. Together they enjoy camping, soccer, and dance.

Excerpts from the nominators' comments:

"Teesa provides a special service to Caltech, and she has done so for over 25 years. She not only manages the Caltech Lock Shop, but she has quite literally designed and developed the system of keying and recordkeeping on which we all so critically depend for the safety and security of people and property... In a sense, she frees people to concentrate on their own work in service to the mission of Caltech because they do not need to be concerned about security."

"There have been a few individuals who I enjoy working with who share the passion for their job that is contagious. Teesa is one of these people. She is always quick to come up with a solution, often finishing tasks well before when she promised them. She is pleasant with a can-do attitude. Never one to show negative emotions or be 'in a bad mood,' Teesa is an individual who I look up to and strive to be like in my daily job."

"Teesa is one of the truly "unsung" heroes, frequently working seven days a week and often called in at night to handle emergencies.

She is extremely knowledgeable, often providing technical advice to Design and Construction engineers, project managers, consultants and contractors working on campus projects, as well as to Division faculty and staff. She has an excellent reputation throughout the campus community for her dedication, professionalism, and service. She also has the enviable reputation of consistently performing her work on budget and on schedule."

"Teesa by far is one of the most accommodating members of the Staff here at Caltech. She is always willing to go that extra mile to make sure that our needs are met. In my many interactions with Teesa over the years, she always makes me feel as if mine is the only request she has received that day. Teesa is always pleasant and enthusiastic about her work here at the Institute. She really cares a great deal about the Institute as a whole and each of us individually, whether it be the President's lock that needs repair or mine. Going out of her way to help others is the norm for Teesa."

Dana Roth

Dana unofficially started working at Caltech in 1952 when the 16-year-old bagged corn tassels in Professor Ernest G. Anderson's experimental cornfield on Temple City Boulevard. He officially began his career here in 1965 when, after earning a master's degree in chemistry, he became the first chemistry librarian in the Gates Chemistry Library. He quickly became so well known that he was enticed to India on an exchange program as a library advisor for the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur in 1971-72. Three years later Scotland beckoned to him for a similar exchange. Dana and his wife, Eileen, reside in Pasadena and enjoy spending time with their daughters, Nancy and Sandra, and their grandchildren.

Excerpts from the nominators' comments:

"Dana has always taken pride in being instrumental to the success of others, particularly the success of those least equipped to represent themselves. It can be daunting for support staff to deal with faculty who can be impatient regarding citations and hard to find historical or technical details. Since the beginning of his career, Dana made sure the library gave all Techers quick and accurate guidance so that they could do their jobs well."

"Working with Dana was working with the consummate professional. He did the research in a meticulous way and we felt confident in presenting his information. His willingness to take this task seriously and to put real work into it made a big impression on the immigration service. They felt that they finally had unbiased and professional level information upon which they could base good judgments. Dana didn't have anything to gain directly from doing this work. He did it because he understands that basic research, of many kinds, is the mission of Caltech. He did it because he understands that we all depend on one another to make this a great place. What a valuable contribution!"

"I first encountered Dana in 1966, long before accepting a job at Caltech. I was finishing my dissertation dealing with the history of chemistry and needed to consult an 18th-century book written by the French chemist, Antoine Lavoisier. I asked him if it was possible to look at the book and he promptly took me to the shelf (open stacks), handed me the volume, and told me I could check it out for as long as I needed. I don't think he even asked me for any ID. There and then I decided Caltech must be a very special place to work."

"His name is synonymous with Chemistry librarianship. Whenever I went to conferences from Caltech, colleagues would come and shake my hand because I knew Dana! He has been instrumental in mentoring generations of chemistry and science librarians throughout this country if not the world!... If there were a Nobel Prize for chemistry librarianship, Dana would be the first recipient! Despite his stature in our profession, he is extremely modest and unassuming."

photo of Teesa Chmielewski and Dana Roth with Caltech dignitaries From left to right: Thomas Schmitt (founder of the Schmitt Prize), Teesa Chmielewski, Ted Jenkins (Caltech Board of Trustees), Dana Roth, Dr. Jean-Lou Chameau (Caltech President), and Dean Currie (VP of Business and Finance). Credit: Caltech