2015 Staff Awards

SEAS presents its prestigious annual awards

Venkatesh "Venky" Narayanamurti Award for Mentoring and Community Building

This award recognizes SEAS staff members who have made a significant contribution to mentoring (including the mentoring of direct reports, colleagues, or students) and/or to community building at SEAS. It was made possible by a generous donation from former Dean Narayanamurti. This year’s recipients are:

Pavlos Protopapas, Pavlos is Scientific Program Director for the Institute for Applied Computational Science.

In his role, Pavlos organizes a weekly seminar series, supervises student projects, leads the extracurricular ComputeFest programs, and builds bridges for students to pursue research opportunities both on campus and in industry. He is also a Lecturer in the CSE program and he created a highly successful exchange program with a university in Chile. According to his nominators, his “enthusiasm about research is infectious”… Pavlos “is the model of a dedicated mentor” who “approaches every graduate or undergraduate student or junior colleague with curiosity and interest, eager to help each individual grow and be inspired by a big question or challenge.”  He is a big part of the heart and soul of IACS.

Daniel Weinstein, Assistant Director for Graduate Studies for the Computational Science and Engineering program.

He was present at the birth of the program and has been instrumental in ensuring its success and rapid growth. He serves as a key resource for both the Master’s students and PhD secondary field students. His nominators praise Daniel for helping to build “an alumni network that retains strong ties to the Harvard community.” Last summer, with colleagues, he ran a pilot REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program. Daniel then helped write a successful grant proposal that will double the size of the program this summer. His colleagues call him “empathetic and reasonable,” and “a natural and generous mentor.” The nomination letter concludes: “Daniel is a kind, humble, unassuming person and as such is one of those people whose contributions to the school are not as widely known or celebrated as they should be.”

Dean’s Excellence Award

This award recognizes high-performing individual staff members who have consistently delivered excellent results and whose contributions have been instrumental to the success of the school. The year’s recipients are:

Miguel Guererro, Custodian

Miguel is a valued member of the SEAS custodial staff who helps keep Pierce Hall, among other parts of our campus, sparkling and its occupants happy. His nomination was supported by multiple people, including faculty and staff, who praised him for, among other things, being kind, courteous, responsive, reliable, efficient, and helpful. They called him a role model for customer service who greets every day with a smile. A colleague summed up Miguel’s impact this way: “the custodial team is better for having him.”

Julie Holbrook, Director of Graduate Admissions

No fewer than 14 faculty members enthusiastically nominated Julie for the Dean’s Excellence Award. They call her “the glue that has kept our graduate student processes together – and improving” during a period of growth. Julie “shows exactly the right balance of respect, insistence on rules, flexibility, and good humor to avoid chaos.” She consistently exhibits a quality that is essential to making a place like SEAS work: she is responsive even when it is not her job. And the faculty note: “shepherding our graduate students is more than a job” for Julie. She demonstrates every day – at all hours of the day – that she truly cares.

Sarah Lefebvre, Faculty Assistant

Sarah is the principle support person for three especially busy faculty members: David Clarke, Evelyn Hu, and Venky Narayanamurti. All three praise Sarah for her “tireless and gracious efforts” that add enormous value to [their] teaching, research and service.” This includes deftly juggling many responsibilities – research grants, accounting, appointments, visiting scholars, and simply finding the best way to get things done. They describe her as “utterly reliable” in all of these areas. When Professor Hu launched a new undergraduate research program last summer in collaboration with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, there were many moving parts. Sarah managed myriad details of the program. According to Evelyn, “This program could not have taken place without Sarah’s efforts.” For all three faculty members, Sarah’s efforts “ripple out to create a better environment for students, staff, and colleagues at SEAS.”

Caroline Perry, Writer and Public Information Officer

Before being promoted to the position of Associate Director of Communications for Harvard’s Office of Technology Development, Caroline spent almost five years as writer and public information officer at SEAS. Her nominators included faculty and staff. They wrote: “In a low-key, under-the-radar fashion, Caroline produced the words that chronicled the accomplishments of faculty, students and staff—and told the SEAS story to our most important audiences. Not only was her work pivotal to creating the narrative for the school, it helped to define and give meaning to the mission and values of SEAS. In a real sense, the stories she crafted are integral to making SEAS not just a school, but a community.”