- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
That sign, “I am NOT afraid of spiders,” greeted Louisa Lo, executive administrative assistant for Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, when she arrived to work a week ago at her office on the "garden level" of Briggs Hall.
Her recently retired colleague and good friend, Shirley Gee, principal investigator, lecturer, mentor and the longtime manager of the Hammock research lab, saw the sign in a local store and purchased it for her.
Halloween is gone, but the sign isn't, and the spiders may not be.
And, yes, despite the sign, she says she's still a “little” afraid of spiders. A touch of arachnophobia.
And why does she not like spiders? “Spiders are creepy!” she said, smiling. “Actually it's not only spiders I don't like, but almost all kind of bugs, especially those with multiple legs! THEY CRAWL ALL OVER THE PLACE! And ironically, I am working in the Entomology Department!”
She works for Bruce Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. Highly recognized by his peers for his research, inventions, teaching and mentoring, Hammock is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors. which honors academic invention and encourages translations of inventions to benefit society. His many programs keep her busy.
Louisa is known as a treasure in the office--multi-skilled, personable and always helpful. "Louisa never failed to ask if she could help me," Gee recalled. "I'm going to miss her as a colleague, but mostly as a friend!"
Said Hammock: "Louisa brightened the office since the day she arrived. She somehow accomplishes the hard work of keeping the lab running under an appearance of always being ready to help. She makes new people feel welcome and lets alumni know they are missed. She even reminds me what day it is and when it is time to go home."
Lo considers this her dream job. “I love meeting and working with people with different backgrounds!” The Hammock lab draws scientists from all over the world. The 29-member international Hammock lab currently includes 1 undergraduate student, 1 graduate student, 7 postdoctorates, 7 research scientists, 8 visiting scholars and 3 staff. They represent 13 countries, including the United States, Turkey, Germany, China, France, India, Japan, Ukraine, Korea, Hong Kong, Canada, Brazil and Sweden.
Lo, who joined the Hammock lab on Aug. 17, 2011, will soon be moving to Michigan where her husband, Kin Sing Stephen Lee, a postdoc in the Hammock lab, has accepted a junior faculty position in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Michigan State University.
Is Lee afraid of spiders? "He better not be afraid of spiders," she said. "He is the one relocating them for me if any are in our house!"
Lo's last day is Dec. 16 at UC Davis. She already has a position awaiting her. “It will be a very similar position as what I am doing right now except it is in a department setting (Department of Family Medicine at Michigan State University) rather than working for a single unit,” Lo said. “I will be responsible of managing accounts, helping with grant proposals and providing administrative support to the department. “
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Louisa came to the United States in 2002 to attend college. She received a degree in advertising “so my first job was a copywriter in an advertising firm in Hong Kong. Then I moved back to United States when my husband was finishing up grad school.”
Then the couple moved to Davis in 2010. Louisa worked as a warehouse associate and an office manager in a clinic before accepting her current position with the Hammock lab.
She and her husband are enjoying life with their toddler son, Skyler, who is just learning to walk, run and ride a tricycle.
Odds are Skyler won't be wearing a Spiderman outfit any time soon.