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Ensuring research goes forward, faster

Dean of Research

Heideh Fattaey, Executive Director of Bio-X

One of Heideh’s roles is to ensure the safety and security of one of the iconic buildings at Stanford--the James H. Clark Center--and the safety and security of 48 laboratories and centers and all the research material and equipment in the building. She has been on-site full time and her two facilities team members, Jeff Meister and Scott Wilton, have been on-site part time, while all are also working from home to ensure the center operations continue. Heideh shared, “During normal operations, hundreds of eyes are on all the equipment and infrastructure in the Clark Center.  With everyone mostly gone, we had to replace those eyes, to ensure the building and the thousands of pieces of equipment and research material are safe.  We have to keep all the incubators at appropriate CO2 levels, ensure all liquid nitrogen tanks are filled, all the freezers are working and nothing is in alarm, confirm the mechanical and electrical rooms are safe—it literally takes about 4-5 hours each day to just set eyes on every room.”

To ensure research in the wet labs would continue, Heideh made sure liquid nitrogen and CO2 deliveries wouldn’t stop and set up a new set of procedures for deliveries. She worked in partnership with the Research Operations Committee, the Dean of Research office, and Environmental Health & Safety, along with Professor Carla Shatz to plan and execute all operations during this time period. Separate from the pandemic, spring is a busy time for the Clark Center, as incoming applications for their PhD Fellowship and Faculty Seed grant programs must be reviewed. Plus, three COVID-10 projects have been approved to be carried out in the Clark Center, with two more under consideration.

Planning for a phased restart has begun, as well. Heideh said the long hours have been rewarding, and the spirit of camaraderie has been strong. “The Dean of Research office, EH&S, all the associate deans—everyone has been so united and working together to get all of us through this.” 

(In the photo above, Heideh is at right, with colleague Cindy Caviligia at left, showing some of their homemade sanitizer stations)

W Eng at home

Wilson D Eng, Facilities Manager, ChEM-H / Neuro research complex

The ChEM-H / Nero research complex is home to several COVID-19 research projects, and in his essential role, Wilson provides support for this vital research, including making sure ordered supplies are delivered quickly to the labs because many are temperature sensitive, as well as arranging biohazard waste pick-ups, tracking building access and checking in on critical equipment via daily building walk-throughs. Wilson stated, “With fewer people coming to campus, we need to make sure the years and years of research are maintained.”

While Wilson mentioned that his day-to-day did not drastically change, he is more focused on essential core activities, such as making sure equipment is functional to keep non-essential lab researchers from having to come in, reducing the amount of traffic coming on campus.

One positive outcome Wilson shared, “We have been able to focus on what is most important. We were in the middle of moving into this building over the past few months, and there were many things people felt were important. The current crisis has allowed us to step back and figure out what is most important to the research being done and reduce the amount of noise.” Wilson encourages everyone to stay positive, don’t stress the small stuff, and have faith that this pandemic will come to an end.

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