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Published July 19, 2021
A laboratory technician in a complex technical analytical facility -- who is a stickler for quality detail, with a strong reputation domestically and internationally, according to colleagues -- is the recipient of the University of Wyoming’s Staff Employee of the Second Quarter Award.
Chandelle Macdonald is a master technician in the Stable Isotope Facility (SIF), directed by the UW Office of Research and Economic Development. The SIF provides quality stable isotope analysis (SIA) for the research community at UW and around the world. The data can be used by researchers to explain different biological/chemical processes and to answer questions about plant physiology, food webs, animal diet, climate modeling and pollution tracing.
“The types of samples we analyze range from rocks, soil, plants, water and hair to methane gas and polar bear breath,” says Macdonald, who has held her current UW position for 12 years.
“Over the last year -- and through these trying times -- Chandelle has maintained very high productivity for the lab, while also managing very effective implementation and compliance with COVID-19 policy,” one of her nominators writes. “Indeed, the lab, because of her, has maintained close to the same level of service output at even higher-quality analyses over these past 12 months for our UW, national and international collaborators and users, compared to the pre-COVID year.”
Another nominator says Macdonald’s expertise in the use of the instrumentation allows the facility to have a strong reputation domestically and internationally.
“She has been instrumental in the UW facility being chosen as the analytical lab for all organic analyses of NEON soil samples, which is a very prestigious accomplishment,” the colleague says. “Her attention to quality control has made the facility a go-to analytical lab for the highest-quality analyses.”
NEON is the National Ecological Observatory Network.
Macdonald’s daily tasks include providing students with hands-on laboratory experiences -- from sample preparation to the end result -- and training undergraduate and graduate students to use the equipment and instrumentation in the lab. She is in charge of maintaining, troubleshooting and repairing 13 scientific instruments, which include four isotope ratio mass spectrometers, and many other pieces of equipment in the lab used for SIA. Macdonald also manages the day-to-day operations of the lab, including scheduling, customer service, invoicing, hiring and training personnel.
“Chandelle is constantly working to develop or improve analytical methods. She is excellent at streamlining workflow without sacrificing quality,” a colleague says. “On the university level, her dedication to her job and her ability to provide quality outreach to K-12 students, and UW and citizen programs are outstanding.”
Outside of UW, Macdonald’s willingness to help a colleague’s eighth grade student with a project for the Wyoming State Science Fair drew high praise. Macdonald was instrumental in training the student on how to dry, grind, acidify and weigh her soil samples. Macdonald taught the eighth grader each procedure, using one of her samples that resulted in the student conducting the procedures on her own remaining samples.
“Chandelle helped a young student understand and apply techniques to a very complex ecological problem. Through this work with the student, the university will get lots of positive praise,” a colleague says.
Born and raised in Gillette, Macdonald attended Northwest College in Powell, where she received her associate degree in chemistry. She later earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Nevada-Reno and worked on a master’s degree at UW.
“I have been lucky in this position to have great mentors and supervisors who have guided and supported me throughout my career at UW. They have allowed me to develop my skills in order to succeed in my position,” Macdonald says. “My student technicians also have been great; I would not be able to do the things I do if I did not have all of the responsible and intelligent students working for me. It also is important to recognize the researchers -- students and professors -- who entrust me with the samples they have worked hard to collect.”
An Employee of the Quarter nominee can be any UW staff employee, and each must receive three nomination forms from three separate individuals. Nominations must be submitted to the Staff Senate office. The forms are on the web and can be found here.
For more information, call the Staff Senate office at 766-5300.