I think of myself as the middle person who works in the spaces between lab members, the faculty, the university and the outside world. The work we do here is life-changing, and it’s an honor to be a part of keeping that research moving, whether it’s scheduling time-sensitive meetings with principal investigators (PIs) and collaborators from around the world, or getting creative hunting down supplies that aren’t easily found right now. I also support my PIs in making sure they stay compliant with educational requirements, and I help our postdocs and grad students, making sure they meet their deadlines. Sometimes I give them a nudge if they need it.
This is my first position with Stanford. Previously I was the enrollment coordinator for a culinary school in the Bay Area, which I loved. We had students from all walks of life – doctors, lawyers, PhDs – and they all wanted a career change. It’s where I learned you’re never too old to pursue what you love and want to do. I’m also someone who takes advantage of opportunities that arise, and while I was there I had a chance to sign up for the school’s wine education program. I’m now a certified sommelier.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my work here was the pandemic. When it first began, we didn’t know how we could keep our research going; it was very frustrating for everyone. I remember one day during a general meeting Manu Prakash told us that the lab was going to pause what we’d been working on, because we needed to focus on COVID and finding solutions. In a matter of weeks we were meeting with doctors, engineers, students and industry specialists in the U.S. and from around the world on everything from PPE to ventilators to diagnostic tools. One project the lab undertook was the creation of a very inexpensive at-home diagnostic test for COVID-19 that could be easily produced. I was given the opportunity to help with it, and in December of 2020 I spent my time helping assemble prototypes. It was my first lab experience, and it was mind-blowing.
When I first started here at Stanford, I was very intimidated, but three years later, I feel like I’ve become a resource. The people I work with respect what I do, and I’ve never worked with such an amazing and bright group of colleagues. There’s never a dull moment.