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December 2021 Employee of the Month – Stephanie Cochran

It is my pleasure to announce Stephanie Cochran as our Employee of the Month for December 2021. Stephanie has been with the stockroom for nearly 10 years in various positions and has stepped up when staffing is not to full capacity. She has continued her education and used her emerging skills to the benefit of stockroom operations, budgeting, and inventory control.  Nominators provided the following commentary on behalf of Stephanie’s attitude and commitment, interpersonal skills, work performance, and personal traits.

Stephanie has used her experience and knowledge to efficiently maintain onerous practices such as chemical inventory, lab fee budget accounting, and supply orders. In this latest round of faculty hiring, she attended multiple teaching sessions and previous research talks, as well as all the meet-ups between the stockroom and the candidates. Stephanie is engaged and excited to participate in representing the department well during the faculty hiring process.

Stephanie is often asked for directly by people both inside and outside the department as she is friendly and knowledgeable. She helps instructors throughout lower division labs troubleshoot problems and listens to their questions with humor. She makes meaningful connections with lab coordinators, which improves the labs themselves through open and honest communication regarding material, equipment, and other challenges. Stephanie is also great at working on a team and participating in team building exercises. She volunteered to make wizard hats used in the December graduation ceremony, participated in many team building events outside of work, and is consistently good at stepping in to help when needed. She offers and follows through with helping others outside the stockroom team while simultaneously doing so in the stockroom.

There is a lot of work in the stockroom that flies under the radar, including accounting and financial tasks related to ChemStore, preparing and selling of at-home lab kits, and pcard reconciliation. Stephanie has assumed these responsibilities since the time of Kathleen’s reassignment. She has continued to perform these duties to this day. She has turned the production of at-home lab kit content ordering, inventory, assembly and sales from an emergency response into a routine stockroom activity. This flexibility and adjustment in workload has contributed to the financial stability of our program. Stephanie trains all new student employees for months as they settle in and begin understanding their job responsibilities. She helps to order items for co-workers who don’t have pcard privileges, digs through various lamps to find the right one for a research group, and coordinates testing for EHSS compliance in all the labs in the department. In December 2021, she helped forecast, order, track, and store materials for the upper division labs, while also doing the same for lower division labs. Stephanie does an excellent job conducting her assigned workload, which includes prepping labs, keeping the lower division “lab train” (as she calls it) rolling by answering questions and troubleshooting, attending coordination meetings, and running the larger of the two stockrooms. She makes the time to be present in 307 to answer questions about labs she wasn’t involved in planning and helps to ensure instructors have coverage when they need it.

Stephanie is genuine, hilarious, friendly, honest, hardworking, and generally a pleasure to be around. She had a hard time communicating with one of our new students and decided to fix that. She and the student worked hard at changing the way they communicate and trying over and over again to make their communication clear and honest. After months of work, they can now communicate very well and almost effortlessly. Throughout this process, neither of them have come forward complaining about the other; instead, they joke about it with each other and laugh through their miscommunications. And although this also speaks volumes about the student, it is a perfect example of who Stephanie is. She finds a problem and sets her mind to solving it. She wants to complete the project in a timely manner and will work very hard to do so, and she maintains a good attitude while doing it. Although things can get sticky and complicated and difficult, she finds a way to make it work for her and others.

Stephanie is a wonderful person and colleague who we are lucky to have on our team.