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COVID-19 Testing Team Receives UArizona Team Award for Excellence

  • August 3, 2021

The University of Arizona COVID-19 Testing Team has been awarded the 2021 University of Arizona Team Award for Excellence by the Employee Recognition Committee. The award recognizes outstanding achievements by functional or project-oriented teams comprised primarily of university and classified staff who uphold the university's values while performing above and beyond expectations.

In her nomination letter, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Jane Hunter, PhD, PMP, explained the extensive cross-functional team collaboration required to rapidly stand up and operate the testing program. 

Clinical research coordinator Brenna Abril instructs students in self-administering the nasal swab antigen test at the University of Arizona Recreation and Wellness Center, known as NorthREC, in Tucson.

“We had project managers working day and night to engage team members who had never met one another; we had facilities managers coordinating with the Pima County Health Department on logistics; we had research administrators taking their compliance training to transport blood samples to the labs; we had strategic planners dealing with supply chain issues; we had system architects and software engineers using universal design to develop applications that could be understood and used by all people regardless of their ability; we had communications specialists who sensitively and compassionately shared regular updates with the campus community; and many, many more.” Dr. Hunter led the testing team. 

In support of the nomination, Michael D. Dake, MD, senior vice president for the University of Arizona Health Sciences, wrote, “The team’s efforts contributed to one of the country’s most effective operations for providing diagnostic and antibody tests for COVID-19 to our campus and the community, achieving ‘in-house’ what other universities and institutions were required to outsource.” 

Since the team started testing in the spring of 2021, there have been 148,855 antigen tests and 125,776 PCR tests administered to members of the university community and to residents across Arizona. 

“This award is so well-deserved. The team worked endless hours under very stressful conditions but consistently attacked the challenges with a positive, can-do attitude. We are immensely proud of the team’s accomplishments, and we appreciate the university’s acknowledgement of their important contributions,” said Dr. Hunter.

Members of the team represented a broad range of departments from across the university, including UArizona Health Sciences, logistics, operations, communications and media relations, project management, government and community relations, information technology, facilities, biomedical informatics and more.    

Members of the COVID-19 testing team include:

Mike Badowski, PhD, associate research scientist, College of Medicine – Tucson
Rosemary Brandt, director, external communications, Division of Agriculture, Life and Veterinary Sciences, and Cooperative Extension 
Erica Castillo, MSN, research nurse, senior, College of Medicine – Tucson
Jennifer Craig-Muller, director, All of Us Research Program, Banner Research
Brian Cunningham, director, project logistics, Office of Strategic Initiatives
Jim Davis, manager of infrastructure services, Data Science Institute
Gina Delgado, services coordinator, University of Arizona Genetics Core
Taylor Edwards, PhD, clinical development scientist, University of Arizona Genetics Core
Hagan Franks, manager of software engineering, Data Science Institute
Amy Glicken, MPH, senior project director, Office of University Inititiaves
Maria Gordon, MS, operations manager, Clinical and Translational Sciences Research Center
Raymie Grimm, assistant director event planning, Arizona Student Unions
Jeffery Hanna, MPH, clinical research coordinator, Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
Josh Hill, assistant director, housing assignment services, Housing & Residential Life 
Brandon Jernigan, MS, quality and research specialist, Health Sciences Biorepository
Julie Katsel, MCIS, senior director, local and community relations, Government & Community Relations
Colleen Kenost, EdD, MPH, director, strategic operations, Health Sciences Research
Shoshana Mayden, MA, associate director, website management, Marketing & Brand Management
Meaghan Miller, communications manager, Office of Strategic Initiatives
Mary Nielsen, MPH, associate director, All of Us Research Program
Tim Nitz, leader, IT program, Campus IT Partnerships
Bruce Overland, director, maintenance services, Facilities Management
Nina Pereira, director, Residential Education
Elvira Perez, RN, clinical nursing supervisor, Campus Health Services
Dana Robbins-Murray, director, admininstrative services, Housing & Residental Life
Alex Robie Harris, EdD, senior project director, Office of University Initiatives  
Cindy Rupp Valdez, MS, director, marketing strategy, Marketing & Brand Management 
Ali Santander, assistant director,  marketing and communications, Housing & Residential Life
Jenn Schilling, MS, senior data analyst, UAIR
Janice Simcoe, director, brand equity, Marketing & Brand Management
Ryan Smith, senior Elantra architect, Veterinary Medicine Administration
Terry Smith, specialist, biomedical informatics, Health Sciences Research
Jessica Thornburg, director, project operations, Office of Strategic Initiatives
Lori Tochihara, administrative services coordinator, Office of Strategic Initiatives
Lori Van Buggenum, MPH, project director, Office of University Initiatives
Sabrina Vazquez, MEd, assistant vice president, City of Phoenix and State Relations
Julia White, consultant, Office of Strategic Initiatives
Todd Wickizer, MMIS, software engineer, CyVerse, BIO5 Institute
Randi Willmeng, project manager, Office of the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences
Gary Windham, principal enterprise systems architect, UITS
Michelle Yung, software engineer, Data Science Institute
Tanyha Zepeda, database specialist, Office of the Senior Vice President of Health Sciences

Judging was done by more than 50 volunteers, peers and colleagues from across the university's campuses. The committee is planning to hold a reception in the fall for 2020 and 2021 award recipients. The team award comes with a $1,500 prize that can be split among members or used in another way. 

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