The UF College of Public Health and Health Professions recognized two hard-working staff members at the annual faculty and staff appreciation dinner held Dec. 3. John Anderson and Stephanie McBride were named PHHP Employees of the Year for 2015.
Anderson, a research coordinator in the department of environmental and global health, spent the better part of the past year in Kisumu, Kenya, coordinating a large and complex research project that involves qualitative data collection, a survey of 800 households and thousands of environmental samples and laboratory analyses. Richard Rheingans, Ph.D., an associate professor of environmental and global health, serves as principal investigator of the study, which aims to identify the socio-economic determinants of childhood exposure to diarrheal diseases in a peri-urban area in Kenya.
“John lived in these communities, forging friendships and an understanding that we could never have created without him,” a nominator wrote. “He sacrificed creature comforts, time with family and loved ones, several holidays and many hours of sleep in order to protect our project and our ultimate goal of better health outcomes for these communities.”
A study of this size will have many challenges, but this particular project had more than its share, colleagues said. Anderson faced labor disputes, lost supply shipments, negotiating with community leaders and motivating a team to work under very difficult situations.
“Not only did he succeed in carrying out this extremely difficult project, he did it in a way that won the admiration of absolutely everyone around,” a nominator wrote.
Anderson, who is also working part time on a UF doctoral degree in interdisciplinary ecology, is a natural leader within the Rheingans research team, providing technical assistance to fellow graduate students, helping new members feel welcome and creating a positive and supportive group culture.
“He will no doubt grow to be an international leader in science and academia,” a graduate student wrote. “I believe he will continue to inspire many more students like myself.”
An administrative assistant in the dean’s office, Stephanie McBride is responsible for coordinating multiple events for the college, such as the spring convocation ceremony and the PHHP family picnic. In addition, McBride has created several new programs that have increased morale and fostered teamwork across the college and with other Health Science Center colleges, co-workers said. These include an orientation for new college employees, the HPNP Field Day to raise money for UF’s Campaign for Charities and a healthy lifestyle challenge competition with the colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy.
As PHHP’s representative on the Health Science Center Superior Accomplishment Award committee, McBride developed new materials to promote the awards program, including tips for nominators on submitting successful nominations. Those materials were selected to appear on the university’s Superior Accomplishment Award website where they are now available to the rest of campus.
“She has breathed new life into this program,” a colleague wrote.
Her biggest project to date is likely the coordination of a massive office and lab space move that affected more than 100 college faculty, staff and students in four buildings.
“I am simply amazed at her operational management, which required sacrifice of personal time and certainly the need to effectively cope with tremendous project stress,” a nominator wrote. “She was so successful, this project did not just appear seamless, it was seamless.”
To keep employees up-to-date on move plans and instructions, McBride sent out weekly emails and designed a webpage with detailed move information.
“The challenge of the move revealed, even played to her strengths: organization, effective and positive communication, persistence, and an unflinchingly positive demeanor,” a co-worker wrote. “As the move drew close to completion, I heard many of my colleagues from around the college telling of the many ways in which Stephanie McBride had ‘saved the day’ for them.”