RIGE Excellence Awards announced for 2012

Nearly 100 University of Oregon staff and faculty members turned out to celebrate “a fast paced and rewarding year” at the Research, Innovation and Graduate Education (RIGE) Excellence Awards.

“This is an opportunity for us to get together and honor staff excellence, celebrate our accomplishments and set new goals,” said Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for research and innovation and dean of the graduate school.

Held in the Papé Room of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, the breakfast event started with an introduction of new RIGE employees, and was followed by a mention of some new initiatives for 2013, including the Microbial Ecology and Theory of Animals Center for Systems Biology (META CSB), a new $10.3 million center funded by the National Institutes of Health. One of only two such centers awarded this past year, the facility will address the mysteries of genetics and disease through the study of animal-associated microbial communities.

Espy also discussed the new Oregon RAIN (Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network) proposal, a partnership between the UO and OSU to help support and encourage technology-based startups. The proposal, which has been gaining traction with community leaders and representatives in Salem, calls for a new UO facility that will serve as a resource center for new technology firms. Espy described it as “a one stop shop for startups to gain a foothold and launch into viable businesses.”

The main event of the program was the announcement of the Excellence Awards for 2012. Patrick Jones, associate vice president for research finance and business administration, named David Dose, an analyst programmer in the department of Sponsored Projects Services, as an Excellence Award recipient. Ray Frey, head of the physics department, and physics professor Richard Taylor spoke to the strengths of Patricia Valenzuela, director of finance and administration for the physics department, who also received an Excellence Award.

Espy announced the recipients of this year’s RIGE Outstanding Team trophy. The “team cup,” a Stanley-cup-like award that rotates from winner to winner each year, went to Liz Deneke, David Dose, Beth Stormshak, Mary Hanabury and Joe Wisecaver from the Financial Conflict of Interest Policy Development and Process Implementation Team. Rather than being a conventional unit, the team is a “cross-unit working group” that came together when RIGE was tasked by the Federal Government with creating and implementing a complex policy under tight deadline pressure.

Espy surprised two recipients with awards that had been kept under wraps. Gerald Tindal, director of behavioral research and teaching for the College of Education’s Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership department, and Castle-McIntosh-Knight Professor of Education; and Andy Berglund, associate professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology; received Friends of Research, Innovation and Graduate Education Awards.

Also announced were the honorable mentions for the Excellence Awards. The list included:

  • Jared Negel, coordinator of academic affairs, graduate school
  • Kari Vandergust, sponsored projects administrator, Pre-Award
  • Joyce Croes, marine laboratory manager, Oregon Institute of Marine Biology
  • Deanna Berglund, grants/contracts coordinator, molecular biology

The event closed with the awarding of surprise gift bags for lucky attendees with ducks on the bottom of their chairs and the playing of the Oregon fight song.

“The future,” Espy concluded “Looks bright for this year.”