JILA staff members Dave Alchenberger, Gwen Dickinson, and Hans Green celebrated their 25th anniversary with JILA last Thursday (7 June 2018). The anniversary celebration was annotated by fellow JILAns who have worked closely with the celebrated JILA staff.
JILA chair Tom Perkins began the event by succinctly describing how JILA staff members made research more enjoyable. “The staff lightens the load of the scientists,” said Perkins; “[the staff] gives us the capability to realize our visions.”
Before Alchenberger, Dickinson, and Green received their commemorative geodes, coworkers shared stories of appreciation for their work.
Dave Alchenberger’s contribution to JILA was described by JILA Fellow Konrad Lehnert as “a big reason why I came to JILA in 2002.”
Alchenberger maintains the JILA Keck lab and clean room. Currently, the Keck lab has two atomic force microscopes, an ellipsometer, a Fizeau interferometer, and two scanning electron microscopes capable of electron beam lithography, as well as a laser table for instruction on ultrafast laser technique.
Before JILA’s expansion in 2012, the Keck lab was small compared to university standards, but “it had Dave, and Dave kept it humming,” said Lehnert. Humming along so well, that Lehnert recalls students from across the University choosing JILA’s clean room over their own department’s.
Mark Carter, a JILA staff member who works closely with Dave Alchenberger, said Dave “taught me a lot of about what it means to be a leader.”
Gwen Dickinson, professional research assistant for the Toomre Group and Rey Group at JILA, was described as indispensable by Brad Hindman, a senior research associate in the Toomre Group. Hindman specifically noted her talent of making funding bureaucracy “disappear.”
And from Paris, JILA Fellow Juri Toomre sent his appreciation for Dickinson’s work to aid dozen of postdocs and students through funding and visa mazes. “I need a Gwen of mine own,” is what they when these researchers leave JILA.
And JILA Fellow Ana Maria Rey also expressed appreciation for Dickinson, recalling the first time Dickinson went above and beyond Rey’s expectations by volunteering to edit a 50-page manuscript. “JILA is the place that is because of people like Gwen: a round of staff that care about JILAns,” said Rey.
Upon receiving her award, Dickinson took a moment to thank JILA. “A horse can’t be a champion without the right trainer… JILA trains you to your full potential,” said Dickinson, recalling encouragement and support she has received from fellow JILAns over the past 25 years.
The Story of Hans Green, a technical support staffer in the instrument shop at JILA, was detailed by the previous Instrument shop leader, now JILA retiree, Blaine Horner. Green began in the shop while still a student at the University of Colorado Boulder. “A history major,” said Horner, whose hobbies (which included building bikes, rebuilding cars, and even building an airplane in his own garage) soon made it clear to Horner that Green was at home in the instrument shop.
Horner noted Green’s social skills too. “He’s not that gruff shop guy,” said Horner, “it was always clear he was a customer favorite.”
And the customer favoritism is well-earned, according to JILA graduate student Roman Chapurin. Chapurin knew Green’s help was “selfless” after Green stayed at JILA past 2am to help Chapurin and his lab mates assemble a vacuum chamber. “And then he biked home,” said Chapurin.
Beth Kroger, administrative staff for JILA, recalled when Hans helped a high school student modify his wheelchair. “For racing!” said Kroger.
Upon accepting his award, Green admitted he was excited to come to work everyday. “JILA is a functional family,” said Green, “not just a family, but a very functional family.”
The event’s announcements were concluded with a list of external and internal JILA awards, before the crowd was allowed to descend upon a delectable platter of mousse cups, cheese, cured meats and chicken nachos.