July 19, 2011
DAVIS--Three persons affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology have been named recipients of the UC Davis Staff Assembly’s “Citation for Excellence” awards and will be honored Wednesday, Aug. 10 at the chancellor’s residence.
They are Janet Brown-Simmons, chief administrative officer of the Departments of Entomology, Pathology and Nematology; Shirley Gee, lab manager and staff research associate in the Bruce Hammock lab, Department of Entomology, and Melissa “Missy” Borel, program manager of the California Center for Urban Horticulture who has been deeply involved in the design and now the continuing development of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
Janet Brown-Simmons, chief administrative officer for the Departments of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology, will receive a citation for excellence for her outstanding supervision. A UC Davis employee for 17 years, she worked two years in Anatomic Pathology at the UC Davis Medical Center, and 15 years on the UC Davis campus, including the Division of Education and now the Departments of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology.
"She is a rare gem and we think she's the most highly functioning CAO on campus," the nominating team wrote. "Her ability to build teams, challenge staff, solve large and unusual problems, and instill principles of community are beyond reproach. In the last year, she led the way in the clustering of three departments, keeping both staff and faculty happy. Her efficiency is such that she is continually asked by the dean's office to work with departments which are struggling. We've never worked with anyone so highly trusted and respected campuswide."
The nominators described her as "extremely well-liked, admired and an effective supervisor who encourages us to work to our full potential and gives us the tools to do our jobs. With her guidance, we are creative and proactive in our endeavors to fulfill the mission of our departments and the campus. We all benefit from her expertise as a supervisor and mentor...she has enormous leadership and management skills, yet humility."
"Despite her extremely heavy workload, she is always upbeat, positive, smiling, energetic and supportive. She uses humor daily and shares it with her supervisees."
The nominees praised her for meeting bi-weekly with staff to provide updates on current campus issues. As an active member of numerous UC Davis committees, she "ensures her department and staff have a voice on campus during these challenging times," they wrote.
Brown-Simmons has a master's degree in education from Boston University. Before joining the UC Davis workforce, she worked 13 years as a licensed medical technologist as a supervisor in chemistry, microbiology, toxicology and quality assurance for a reference lab. Highlights of her career? "Working with terrific people, building efficient organizations, and mentoring others," she said.
Brown-Simmons was nominated by the 14-member administrative team of Guyla Yoak, Sandra Vice, Suzette Garcia Wendy Johnson-Mesa, Brenda Wing, Elvia Hack, Gabriela Sanchez, Naima Carter, Alfred Chan, Frances Gamez, Lisa Jurado, and Thomas Gordon, chair of the Department of Plant Pathology; Steven Nadler, chair of the Department of Nematology; and Michael Parrella, chair of the Department of Entomology.
Gee, a 35-year UC Davis employee, manages the Hammock research lab, which includes 30 to 40 scientists: graduate students, technicians, post graduates and visiting professors from all over the world. She was praised as being “extremely efficient and effective” and a “can-do person skilled at anticipating and solving problems in a friendly, courteous and timely manner.”
Her fellow employees fondly call her “the lab mom” in praise of her competency and friendliness. “Her input is critical to every project underway in our lab,” Hammock said. “One research project brought almost $2 million in direct costs to the campus last year; she is one of the unsung heroes who keeps this program going.”
Gee “seeks ways to help the lab and the department be successful,” the nominators wrote. She was the first research associate at UC Davis to be given principal investigator status on grants. On her own she developed a computer-based chemical and equipment inventory system in the laboratory which could be used throughout the university. Gee is also the department’s safety officer.
Gee’s work been recognized repeatedly with achievement awards and publications in peer-reviewed journals. She received her bachelor of science degree in biological sciences at UC Davis in 1973 and her master’s degree in pharmacology and toxicology at UC Davis in 1981. Her area of expertise is the development of "ELISA" (enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assays) for pesticides and other environmental pollutants and their metabolites. Gee has trained scientists from France, Germany Japan, China, India and Australia.
Bruce Hammock, a distinguished professor of entomology, holds a joint appointment in cancer research with the UC Davis Medical Center. He directs the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Superfund Program on the UC Davis campus, as well as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Training Program in Biotechnology and the NIEHS Combined Analytical Laboratory.
Nominating Gee for the Citation for Excellence were staff assistant Grace Bedoian and researcher Christophe Morisseau of the Hammock lab, and Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist, Department of Entomology.
Melissa “Missy” Borel
Borel coordinated the design competition for the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, helped develop the garden through donations and an outreach program, recruited and coordinated additional campus programs to add educational and art content to the garden, and now, as a volunteer, helps maintain it.
She lends advice about plants and the layout, guides tours, asks for donations from a network of friends and colleagues in the horticulture industry, has granted countless news media interviews, and helped with the official opening of the garden on Sept. 11, 2010.
Borel coordinated with five distinct campus units and three extra agencies during the design and building phases of the garden. More than 80 percent of the garden was installed with donated materials.Borel, a member of the Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Bee Board, received her bachelor of science degree in plant sciences from UC Davis in 2004 and her master’s degree in horticulture and agronomy from UC Davis in 2007. She focused her graduate research on (1) best practices for the development of educational signage in botanical gardens and (2) the physiological health benefits to recreating in an outdoor environment.
The garden has become a campus destination where visitors learn about bees and landscaping and can admire the art (a six-foot-long bee sculpture, beehive art, and mosaic of native bees). A thriving volunteer corps maintains the garden and continues to enhance the beauty of the space. The volunteer group praised her for building a great outreach program and being a good leader. “She’s so personable and enthusiastic,” one said.
Borel has served as the program manager for California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) since graduate school. Her role at CCUH is to coordinate and execute programs that help to enhance urban living and environmental awareness for the people of California. Her passion is sharing her love of both natural and created landscapes with the public and hopes to inspire “'eco-friendly” actions in others.
Dave Fujino is the executive director and founding director of CCUH.
Borel was nominated by Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist for the UC Davis Department of Entomology; Jan Kingsbury, director of major gifts, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences: and Susan Cobey, bee breeder-geneticist/researcher at the Laidlaw lab.
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology