What do you do at LIDS?
I’m the LIDS Administrative Officer, and I’ve been here since February this year. My role is to run the laboratory from a financial and administrative perspective, including managing the general budget, overseeing sponsored research funding, overseeing and directing LIDS staff, assigning space to personnel, etc.
What are your responsibilities, and what does a typical day look like for you?
As the administrative officer, I wear multiple hats, so there is not really a typical day. If a principal investigator is submitting a proposal, either I, or my financial officer, will read through the solicitation and offer guidance to the PI. For staff, I actively think about how I can develop them professionally, and what types of training, support and advice they might need.
There are also many ad-hoc projects. Right now, I’ve been exploring the reconfiguration of the common lounge space. People have asked for more whiteboard space to talk about concepts and ideas and the general desire to increase collaborative interactions. Taking all input into account, we’ll select among several designs and I’ll work within our budget to determine the best use of money.
I’ve also spent time with my staff looking at process improvements for graduate student appointments, paperless records retention, space management, online file sharing solutions for administrative staff, among other things.
What brought you to MIT and LIDS?
My undergrad degree was biology/pre-med and I also worked as a stock trader in NYC, so my path to research and academic administration was certainly not by design. Fifteen years ago, my wife and I came from NYC to Cambridge for her graduate studies and I have been working at MIT since then. I started out as a temp administrative assistant in Chemistry. After a year, I explored finance-related opportunities at MIT, and became a financial assistant and eventually a senior financial officer, in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering. I was there for 8 years before going to the Office of Sponsored Programs, where I was a special projects officer and then took on contract administrator work, reviewing grants and proposals.
My time at MIT has been extremely rewarding and I am very happy to currently be at LIDS. I definitely feel that everything I’ve worked on at MIT throughout the years has brought me to a point where I have a solid foundation and where MIT-specific knowledge builds upon itself and will help me to be successful at LIDS.
What do you like about your role at LIDS?
Speaking to my predecessor Debbie [Wright], I got the sense that everyone (faculty, researchers, students, and staff) at LIDS treats each other with a lot of respect and professionalism. This has certainly played out to be true! And because I’m responsible for so many different aspects of the lab, I feel vested in LIDS’ mission – what I’m doing directly impacts LIDS.
I also cannot say enough about the team of staff that we have at LIDS. Everyone works together so well to ensure that the lab runs smoothly.
What do you do for fun, outside of work?
I spend time with my wife and 3 daughters, aged 11, 9, and 6. My wife and I love engaging with our daughters in activities they enjoy, such as biking, reading, camping, or games.
I enjoy running and have completed a couple of half marathons and like to do 5ks when I can. Every so often, you might spot me run-commuting home from MIT to Arlington.
I’m interested in learning foreign languages as well. As a child, growing up outside Chicago, I spoke Taiwanese and some Mandarin at home with my parents, and have a very basic knowledge of those languages. I took one year of Mandarin and Russian in college and am currently learning Italian, with the hope that my Italian will be sufficient for a planned trip!