The University Record, May 7, 2001

Research award recipients announced

By Lee Katterman
Office of the Vice President for Research

Five University staff will be honored at a May 16 reception under a new campus awards program established earlier this year by the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR). In announcing the awards program last January, Fawwaz Ulaby, vice president for research, noted that at a leading research institution such as the U-M, “we should never forget the important roles played by the dedicated staff who support our vast research effort and infrastructure.” The creation of these two awards helps to recognize the outstanding individuals who contribute to the complex work of research administration.

The Distinguished Research Administrator Award honors individuals from any unit at the University who have demonstrated over a number of years distinguished service exemplifying the goals of professional research administration. Three staff members were selected to receive this award for 2001: Owen Jansson, assistant director, Center for Human Growth and Development; Dorene Markel, administrative director, General Clinical Research Center; and Patrice Somerville, administrative manager, Department of Environmental Health Sciences. Each winner will receive an honorarium and an award plaque.

The OVPR Exceptional Service Award honors staff members from OVPR or any of the units that report to OVPR. This award recognizes individuals who have made contributions that go beyond fulfilling the duties of the position. Two staff members will receive this award for 2001: Jane Ginopolis, administrative manager, Department of Geological Sciences; and Thomas Zdeba, project representative, Division of Research Development and Administration. Each winner receives an honorarium and an award plaque.

The awards reception will be held 3:30–5 p.m. May 16 in the Hussey Room, Michigan League. The winners were selected by Ulaby and an awards advisory committee composed of Julia Dodge, senior research associate, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education; Carl Henderson, engineering research associate, Department of Geological Sciences; Linda Owens, administrative manager, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Linda Peasley, basic science administrator, Department of Human Genetics; and Kathleen Freidrichs, administrative manager, Center for Professional Development.

Distinguished Research Administrator Award Recipients

Owen Jansson, assistant director, Center for Human Growth and Development, has worked at the University since 1980. In his first U-M position, he helped establish and then directed the operation of the Children’s Center, a new research and training facility. For the past 18 years, Jansson has held a series of progressively more responsible positions with the Center. Co-workers who nominated Jansson emphasized his leadership skills through changes that a research unit such as the Center faces over time, his ability to engender employee loyalty by establishing a positive work environment, his keen administrative abilities and willingness to take on extra work to help other units, and the effort he puts into encouraging the professional growth of his staff. Said one Jansson supporter, “I believe that the Center could not have moved forward so productively without the wisdom and expertise of an administrator like Owen.”

Dorene Markel has had a long affiliation with the University. She spent two years at the U-M-Dearborn campus as an undergraduate, then attended graduate school on the Ann Arbor campus. She has held a variety of positions, such as a research study coordinator, genetic counselor and director of the Clinical Trials Center. Markel has been administrative director of the General Clinical Research Center since 1996. Markel was a crucial contributor to the recent successful renewal of the Center’s five-year, $31 million NIH grant as well as a parallel NIH construction grant to support renovations. Her expertise extends to many other corners of the University. Markel is a member of the Medical School Institutional Review Board, which reviews human research protocols. She also served as interim administrator of this board during a recent restructuring. She is a lecturer in the Training Program in Clinical Research, and course coordinator and primary lecturer for the Macy Minority Students in Medicine Summer Academy. In nominating Markel, her colleagues highlighted her “splendid record of sustained leadership and initiative.”

Patrice Somerville, administrative manager for the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, has been an employee of the School of Public Health for 16 years. She was employed for five years in student services, then moved into an administrative role. Somerville has earned a reputation as an outstanding administrative manager who handles her duties with tremendous skill and effectiveness. She agreed to manage two departments simultaneously—Biostatistics and Environmental Health Sciences (EHS), which had been without an administrator for some time. Somerville worked long hours to restore order to EHS. She became the permanent EHS administrator and trained her replacement for Biostatistics. Somerville has made valuable contributions campuswide. She devoted great effort to the design and implementation of the Cost Accounting Standards training project and to the creation of the Research Administrators Information Network. Somerville is known as someone who performs with “sure-handedness, good humor and insight.”

Recipients of the OVPR Exceptional Service Award

Jane Ginopolis’s extraordinary contributions to the Institute of Gerontology led to her nomination for this award. She began working at the Institute in 1996, and faculty soon noticed major improvements in all aspects of unit management. Last year, when a plan was set in motion to merge the Institute with another unit, staff members were encouraged to find positions elsewhere. However, the merger was called off, and the Institute’s future became uncertain. Although Ginopolis had begun working in her current position as administrative manager in the Department of Geological Sciences, she volunteered to take on many important administrative tasks after hours and on weekends to keep the Institute operating. Her efforts were appreciated. “Jane was competent, calm (and calming) and efficient,” said one faculty member.

Thomas Zdeba has been involved since 1992 in negotiating research-related agreements with industrial sponsors as a project representative in the Division of Research Development and Administration (DRDA). During this period, Zdeba has elevated his involvement in this complex area of research administration, taking on such tasks as training new staff working in the industrial sponsor area without reducing any of his other duties. He also willingly assists faculty involved in technology transfer, applying his legal knowledge and scientific understanding to help in an area that is technically beyond the boundaries of DRDA. He has demonstrated a talent for working with industrial sponsors and finding ways to uphold University policies while also trying to accommodate businesses with an interest in University research outcomes. Zdeba is widely cited among both faculty and research administrators as “knowledgeable and professional,” willing to share his knowledge of contract negotiations, and possessing “style, sense of humor and consistently positive attitude,” even when the work piles up.