Staff recognized at annual college barbecue

Faculty and staff going through the food line.

A sunlit Bustad Lawn was packed Tuesday afternoon as staff were recognized at the College of Veterinary Medicine’s 26th annual barbecue and staff awards ceremony.

Since 1997, the awards have recognized staff who have excelled in the performance of their duties as well as promoted teamwork and inspired excellence in others. Staff are nominated by their colleagues and selected by an advisory committee. 

This year, six staff members and the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory aquatic health section were recognized with awards, but everyone in attendance won as the event was catered by Longhorn BBQ and included cold iced tea, lemonade and a dessert course.

This year’s staff award winners included:

  • Philip Bawn
  • Nicole Dumas
  • Bailee Ellis
  • Audrey Hoffman
  • Jennifer Horton
  • Alisa Laprath 
  • Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory aquatic health section (group award)

Philip Bawn, a system analyst developer at the college in Veterinary Information Systems, was nominated by his department colleagues Scott Bullers and Maaz Mustapha. Bawn was recognized for his exceptional efficiency, conscientiousness, timeliness and willingness to take on any project and do all he can to see it succeed. His ability to implement new products is a critical resource for the college.

“Philip’s willingness to share his knowledge and expertise with others contributes to growth and success of the entire team. He actively engages in team-building exercises, fostering strong relationships and promoting a sense of unity. Philip has been instrumental on the ezyVet implementation team as he brings creative and holistic system solutions to product implementation,” Bullers wrote in his nomination.

Becca Wolking admitted her nomination for fiscal specialist Nicole Dumas is three years overdue. Wolking nominated her peer in WADDL for her role in ensuring the lab’s new One Health Diagnostics section could complete testing for COVID-19 samples.

“More than three years ago, our lab was tasked with performing human COVID-19 PCR testing for Washington State University and the surrounding area. During this time, we hired three additional people for testing, but no additional personnel in our WADDL business office. In order for all that testing to be performed, the WADDL Business Office was required to take on the task of purchasing all of the supplies for a diagnostic test with very high testing numbers and turnaround time. Nicole was responsible for not only providing resources for the new One Health Diagnostics section at WADDL, but also keeping our other lab sections afloat with supplies, during a global pandemic,” Wolking wrote.

Bailee Ellis, a small animal veterinary technician in the hospital’s Emergency and Critical Care department, was recognized for her compassionate care and dedication to her patients and their owners. Small animal surgery intern Dr. Agnieszka Fracka wrote that whether Ellis is teaching her peers or learning from them, she is a dependable asset for the hospital’s emergency service.

“She never says ’no’ when help is needed, even if it means sacrificing her sleep or her free time. She clearly goes above and beyond to support her colleagues and to provide the best possible care for the animals. She is motivated, enthusiastic about her work and clearly loves doing what she does,” Dr. Fracka wrote in her nomination.

Fiscal analyst Audrey Hoffman was recognized for her work in Veterinary, Microbiology and Pathology. She was nominated by her department colleagues Kelly Brayton, Kate Huyvaert, Dan Jendro, Dana Shaw and Margaret Wild. In addition to completing her daily tasks at the highest level and ensuring budgets are accurate and on target, Hoffman strives to improve projects and enhance the vision and work of the broader team. 

“Our administrative office is small in terms of personnel. Even though her title is fiscal analyst, she has taken on a leading role in things like facilities management, event coordination and department space management. For example, there was a recent project in our building that required a lengthy power shutdown. Audrey was available at 5 a.m. and well into the night to make sure the department equipment didn’t fail and to troubleshoot issues as they arose. Audrey is a tremendous team player, and we are very grateful to have her in VMP,” Jendro wrote.

Jennifer Horton, laboratory manager for Professor Doug Call in the Paul G. Allen School for Global Health, was nominated by Call for her work in his lab for the past seven years. He noted Horton’s substantial knowledge and experience in molecular and cell biology has elevated the quality of work in his lab.

“Jenn cares deeply about the quality of her work, and I quickly learned both to appreciate her efforts and recognize that when it comes to bench work, she is the gold standard for evaluating results. As a simple recent example, Jenn organized and executed the lab work needed to characterize antimicrobial resistance for over 2,200 strains of bacteria in support of a CDC-funded study in Guatemala, and she prepared DNA for sequencing for all these isolates,” Call wrote in his nomination.

Alisa Laprath, a clinical technologist in the Clinical Pathology laboratory inside the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, was nominated by her lab mates Greg Nordin and Dr. Mara Varvil. Alisa was nominated in part for her proficiency in her day-to-day duties, unwavering friendliness and excellent mentorship, also in addition for her training of staff and progressing the lab forward by training her peers. 

“In 2022, there were several staffing changes that left Alisa as the sole technician in the Clinical Pathology laboratory. During this time, she was still finishing her own training and beginning to train other newer technicians. Alisa stepped up and put her strong work ethic and positive attitude to work. Since then, she has become the go-to person in the lab,” Nordin and Varvil wrote in their nomination letter.

WADDL’s Aquatic Health section, nominated by Aquatic Health laboratory manager Nora Hickey, received the sole group award in the college. The group was nominated for taking on extra duties for the past year and a half in the absence of a laboratory manager. Despite the absence, the team continued to perform important fish health certification testing for fish producers across the United States.

“I cannot think of anyone more deserving of the Staff Excellence Award than the WADDL Aquatic Health section staff. They absolutely deserve to be recognized for not only the hard work that they did the last one and a half years but also for sticking out a rough period for their section and still serving WADDL’s clients,” Hickey wrote in her nomination.