Staff Updates: New hires, promotions, retirements

Submitted by Diana Knight on
Mark Hertle
Alastair Laing
Kelly Olenyik
Michaela Priszner
Madison Canfield
Abi Bravo
Leesa Kurtz

Welcome to new staff in the Department of Chemistry!

Mark Hertle, Grants Manager
Started September 2021
Mark earned his Ph.D. in Developmental Biology from University College, London, and Cancer Research UK, and an A.B. in Zoology from the University of California, Berkeley. Mark was a science teacher and program officer prior to most recently working as a lead grants manager in the UW School of Medicine. He enjoys his rescue dog’s frequent interference in house remodeling projects.

Alastair Laing, Research Coordinator
Started October 2021
Alastair graduated from Western Washington University with a B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology. He spent the last several years in the Preanalytics and Molecular departments of a Bellingham clinical/anatomical pathology laboratory.

Kelly Olenyik, Research Coordinator
Started December 2021
Kelly will be working with Daniel Gamelin, Xiaosong Li, and the Molecular Engineering Materials Center (MEM·C). She grew up in Wyoming and Colorado and moved to Seattle after working in operations management for a group of commercial laboratories in the coal mining industry in the U.S. Mountain West for the past ten years. She earned a bachelor’s in chemistry from the University of Chicago in 2008 and conducted undergraduate research with Prof. R Stephen Berry. She served in the Peace Corps as an education volunteer from 2008-2010. In 2019, she earned a master’s in chemistry from the University of Wyoming where she conducted research with Dr. David Anderson. Kelly is thrilled to once again be surrounded by science education and research here at the UW.

Patrick S. Arroyo, Fiscal Specialist 1
Started April 2022
Patrick hails from Orange County, California, and has been a Seattleite for nearly 15 years. He graduated from the University of Montana (Go Griz!) with a B.A. in Economics. Patrick’s previous roles at the UW have included summer temporary work at Harborview Medical Center while he was in college, and as a building services coordinator for nearly four years the UWMC’s Instructional Support Office. Patrick will be supporting Travel and Procurement and is excited to continue his career at the UW (Go Dawgs!) where he feels an amazing sense of community and strong values.

Lance Ezell, Scientific Instructional Technician 2
Started September 2021
Lance earned a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Mississippi and has more than five years of research laboratory experience including training of undergraduate and junior graduate research assistants.

Michaela Priszner, MSACST Program Adviser
Started March 2022
Michaela will be working with Dan Fu, Robert Synovec, and Christine Gormley in this new role for the Department. Michaela is a Seattle native who recently settled in Everett. She earned a B.A. in Psychology from Seattle Pacific University and has spent the past five years working in the applied behavior analytics (ABA) field and coaching high school cheer in Shoreline. She is excited to join the Department and help the graduate program grow.

Madison Canfield, Research Operations Manager
Started February 2022
Madison, a UW alum with a B.A. in Chemistry and Biochemistry, spent the past two years as a grants specialist at the College of the Environment’s EarthLab and is excited to return to Chemistry to support David Ginger and the NSF STC for the Integration of Modern Optoelectronic Materials on Demand (IMOD). Outside of work, Madison enjoys hiking with her 4-year-old dog.

Frances Wedge, Fiscal Specialist 1
Started June 2022
Fran joined the Chemistry Finance Group and will fill a central role as a Purchasing Specialist. She previously worked at the University of Washington Medical Center and the UW School of Medicine, and for a bookkeeping and accounting firm that served small construction companies. She holds an Associate of Applied Technology, Accounting and Business/Management from Edmonds College. Fran lives in Ballard and enjoys photography and gardening.

Abi Bravo, Scientific Instructional Technician 2
Started April 2022
Abi joined the Undergraduate Services Group supervised by Eric Camp, supporting the General Chemistry program. Abi is new to the UW and the Seattle area, having recently transplanted from the Yakima Lower Valley. Abi earned a master’s in chemistry with a focus on biological life sciences from Washington State University. She enjoys the outdoors and loves hearing about locations she should check out.

We are so pleased to have these additions to our Finance, Administration, and Instructional teams.

Congratulations to our staff who have been promoted!

Leesa Kurtz, Office Manager
Promoted October 2021
Leesa, who served as a Scientific Instructional Technician for 13 years, was promoted to Front Office Manager, a new role for the Department. Leesa manages a team of student assistants to handle daily operations of the front office, serves as the key custodian, and works closely with Paul Miller and Kevin Soderlund to provide facilities support as well as Lynsey Tafreshi and Allison Spooner to support the Personnel team.

Ella Miltner, Assistant Chemstore Manager
Promoted April 2022
Ella has been promoted from Fiscal Specialist 1 to Fiscal Specialist 2.

We wish the best to staff members who left the Department of Chemistry:

Hong Sze, Fiscal Specialist
Four years in Chemistry
Hong was a dedicated and hardworking member of the Purchasing and Accounting office, and we congratulate her on her new position at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering.

Mike Zimmerman, Fiscal Specialist
21 years of service at the UW
We will sorely miss Mike who moved away from Seattle to be closer to family. Over the years, has worked in various roles as a fiscal specialist. In his first role back in the days of the 3-page carbon copy order forms, he split his time between supporting the Chemistry Stockroom and supporting the Department with purchase orders. In 2014, he was promoted to the senior purchasing agent position where he became an expert at all types of orders, including the most complicated million-dollar instrumentation orders as well as long standing weekly cryogen orders. He also expertly guided researchers through the M&E tax exemption and sole source justification processes. He will be missed not only for his work, but also for his musical talent and great sense of humor.

Alexandra (Alex) Swidergal, Research Coordinator
Five years in Chemistry
Over the years as a research coordinator, Alex supported nearly everyone on our faculty at one time or another. She provided invaluable leadership to the team of research coordinators as well as providing coverage for seminar support and assistance with multiple faculty searches. We thank Alex for her care of those she worked with and her dedication to her work and wish her all the best as she returns to work related to her background in biology and botany.

Congratulations and many thanks to our retired colleague for his many years of service:

Dave Lindquist, Scientific Instructional Technician
Retired October 2021
Dave joined the Department of Chemistry in October 1996 and retired after exactly 25 years of service. Over the years, Dave has made his mark on all aspects of our undergraduate program including lecture demonstrations, organic chemistry, and the general chemistry series. His consummate and steady hand have kept our program running for decades and we wish him a well-deserved retirement.

The staff in the Department of Chemistry continue to be dedicated to our mission of inclusive excellence in learning, teaching, research, and community service with the highest standards of safety.