The Department of Chemistry’s Philip Fairall, Alice Monachello, and Kevin Wilkes are among those receiving commendation this week for staff members who have exhibited extraordinary and exceptional contributions to support Princeton University’s needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID Award is intended to thank this small number of employees who stand out in how they have worked tirelessly to respond to the unprecedented needs of this public health emergency,” according to the HR website. Individuals were nominated for the award. Their performances were evaluated based on three criteria: contribution, impact, and effort.
Fairall serves as the department’s storeroom attendant and has been a staffer at Frick since 1999. He has been going to Frick five days a week since the pandemic hit – the only staff member to do so – and has supported the resumption of research effort. He has ensured that supplies are delivered to labs conducting COVID-related research and that the stockroom is accessible and well-supplied.
“I believe chemistry has done an excellent job navigating the COVID-19 virus,” said Fairall. “The basement has not skipped a beat and work/lab work continues. The Stockroom, NMR AND Mass Spec Facilities have been running while the building is open following the university mitigation efforts.
“I would like to give a shout-out to our fantastic Mrs. Ellaree (Gibbs/Building Services),” he added, “for making sure everything is disinfected and cleaned, and our dependable maintenance crew for their support.”
Monachello, now going into her 10th year with the department, is the facilities and safety manager. She has been instrumental in preparing Frick for the resumption of research and for disseminating COVID-19 protocols and safety measures, as well as serving as department liaison to the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS).
“The COVID mandates, set in place by the state and reinforced by the University, have been challenging for everyone,” said Monachello. “But overall, the chemistry faculty, researchers, and staff working on-site have adapted well to following the new protocol. Hopefully, with the mandates, compliances, and having the vaccine available, COVID-19 will wind down next year and we can return to some sense of normalcy in 2021.”
Wilkes, Frick’s facilities coordinator and a member of the Frick community since 1996, spent the first phase of the pandemic marking off the lab and relocating furniture according to social distancing protocols; sourcing hand sanitizer and placing it throughout the building; and procuring face masks from EHS in addition to his daily operations tasks. In June, he took up responsibilities critical to the resumption of research.
“The entire process was a dive into the unknown. Policies, guidelines, and procedures were rapidly formed and we reacted to them as quickly as possible,” said Wilkes. “What’s ahead? I can only hope we all react to the ongoing changes and forge ahead to keep the department operating efficiently.”
Department Manager Janet Gruschow had praise for the staffers, saying they are an integral part of the many efforts on behalf of the community’s health and safety.
“I am so grateful to our phenomenal staff across the board,” said Gruschow. “They have persevered during an unprecedented pandemic in our lifetimes and have continued to carry out their responsibilities smoothly and efficiently, supporting the research and teaching missions of the University.
“Each and every person has made the effort required – and more – to do their jobs well even during a time that has produced a lot of stress and anxiety,” added Gruschow. “The chemistry staff is a terrific group of individuals and I could not feel more fortunate to have the privilege of working with them.”