Staff Excellence
Laurie Westover
Award Type: 
Professionalism
Year: 
2013

Director of Laboratory Services and an Instructional Laboratory Specialist

All in a Day’s Work

 

Laurie Westover has found her calling. After more than a decade of service to the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), Westover’s responsibilities have evolved into a position that truly satisfies her, professionally and personally. As the Director of Laboratory Services and an Instructional Laboratory Specialist, Westover’s duties are quite varied and include teaching a biochemistry laboratory course, providing laboratory support for numerous other courses, training teaching assistants, designing and evaluating the feasibility of new laboratory experiments, and assisting faculty with curriculum design for laboratory courses. Westover also plays a central role in overseeing COLSA’s research and teaching lab facilities in her new role as head of the COLSA Tech Team. This role requires her to interface with faculty and staff, the COLSA Dean’s Office, and Facilities staff to insure that the infrastructure of the buildings—like autoclaves, environmental rooms, and emergency alarm systems—are up to par. Chair of the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences Rick Cote says, “Laurie is a phenomenal multi-tasker; she can seamlessly flow from teaching a biochemistry lab to providing lab support for a genetics course to consulting with Facilities and outside companies about equipment failures—all in a single day’s work and with an amazingly consistent, positive can-do attitude.”

“I love the people I work with,” says Westover whose friendly, outgoing personality has enabled her to create enduring professional and personal relationships across the University. With a Master’s degree in Marine Science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (California State University, Monterey Bay) focusing on molecular biology and phylogenetics, Westover has expanded her skills and knowledge in biochemistry to enhance her ability to keep everything running smoothly in the biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics teaching laboratories at UNH. Furthermore, she actively collaborates with numerous faculty to further expand the hands-on, research-based, active learning environment that is so attractive to undergraduate students and for which the University is known and respected. 

Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences Clyde Denis appreciates Westover’s involvement in modifying and enhancing his lab to produce better student learning experiences with more efficiency and greater breadth of experimental challenges. “Laurie made new mutations in the lactate dehydrogenase gene, and three years ago we incorporated the students’ initial results into our labs,” says Denis. “Just this last year we had the students demonstrate the enzyme kinetic changes that result from Laurie’s work.”

During the State of the College address in November, Westover was surprised and delighted to learn that she had received the College’s 2013 Staff Excellence Award. “Laurie is extremely knowledgeable about our research and teaching lab facilities,” says Dean Jon Wraith, “and she is universally respected and liked by everyone with whom she interacts on a daily basis. She consistently goes over and above, having cheerfully and effectively completed several initiatives that I’ve asked of her.”

“COLSA is such a great place to work,” says Westover who is deeply gratified by helping undergraduate and graduate students along their path. One of her nominators, Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences Estelle Hrabak says, “Laurie plays a central role in the smooth operation of our department and her unwaveringly pleasant and always professional demeanor is much appreciated by everyone.”

- Victoria Forester Courtland