Thumbnail of four cee staff members

Four staff members receive departmental awards

The Annual Staff Excellence Award and Extra Mile Awards honor outstanding CEE staff.

Four Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) staff were recognized for their phenomenal work at a virtual luncheon on December 14, 2020. Marketing Communications Specialist Jessica Petras received the Staff Excellence Award, and three Extra Mile Awards were presented to Research Administrator Senior Christine Kropelnyckyj, Senior Administrator Amy Shepherd and Lab Services Supervisor Tom Yavaraski.

The CEE Staff Excellence Award is presented based upon feedback from faculty and staff in areas of professionalism and reliability, communication, teamwork, job knowledge and work quality, initiative, problem-solving and decision-making, planning and organizing, and leadership. 

Portrait of Jessica Petras
Jessica Petras

Petras was honored for her efforts in advancing internal and external communications. Her work on the Strategic Directions booklet, various major events, social media presence, quarterly newsletters and the Pelham Scholars campaign increased department visibility. Petras also helped to create a congratulatory video for graduates in lieu of an in-person celebration and helped coordinate the grad student virtual visit day for the Student Services Team. 

Portrait of Christine Kropelnyckyj
Christine Kropelnyckyj

Additionally, CEE also created the Extra Mile Awards, a one-time honor designed to recognize staff who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic. While everyone in the department has had to adjust to working from home, with some staff opting to reduce their hours to assist with budget constraints and others taking on additional work, three staff in particular were recognized for their efforts.  

Kropelnyckyj was recognized for her work with department finances, confirming all Spring and Summer funding with faculty and assisting with Fall and Winter student funding confirmations. Working remotely, Kropelnyckyj also took on extra responsibilities with respect to faculty research proposals, which increased by more than 47% from May to October. 

Portrait of Amy Shepherd
Amy Shepherd
Portrait of Tom Yavaraski
Tom Yavaraski

Similarly, Shepherd stepped in to help short-handed teams within the department, volunteering to work in person at greeter stations, checking temperatures and verifying health screening questions, thus ensuring that student and faculty researchers could continue their work safely. Shepherd also worked with Student Services to organize Pelham Scholars mentorship for both graduate and undergraduate students. 

Yavaraski also worked on campus to help faculty ramp down their research early on in the pandemic, and then later to safely ramp back up on a limited basis. Yavaraski also monitored the buildings to ensure that they remained in working order, checking for leaks, floods, alarms and power outages. He also verified that researchers were following proper safety protocols and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), in addition to ordering, mixing and maintaining cleaning supplies distributed to labs. Additionally, Yavaraski managed the day pass program, tracking all faculty, students or visitors who required building access.