College of Natural Sciences

Outstanding Staff Award

The Outstanding Staff Award is given to a staff member who is nominated by either faculty, staff, administrators and students of the college, who exhibit outstanding achievement on the job, service to other employees and students and exceptional contributions to operations.

2021 - 2022: Candice Sawyer 

 CandiceCandice was one of two who won Outstanding Staff Award for 2022. Candice started in the School of Nursing as a student assistant in 2013, and in 2017 she became the Administrative Support Assistant (ASA). Just as the pandemic hit the world, Candice was elevated to the position of Administrative Support Coordinator (ASC). School of Nursing was one of the first departments to be allowed back on campus for face-to-face classes. Candice worked closely with Director, Skills Lab Coordinator, Chico State Wildcat Wellness Center, and our clinical partners to implement COVID policies and these necessities into our new clinical requirements.

During this time, Candice also dealt with staff shortages within the department and took on extra duties, which added to her workload. She filled in by coordinating the student onboarding at clinical sites as well as hired, oriented, and supported two new student assistants to help the SON office continue to function. She also served on the hiring committee for the search for the new ASA. Upon the retirement of the RCNP Program Coordinator, Candice and her student assistants stepped in to process RCNP applications and help coordinate placements and served on the hiring committee for the new RCNP Coordinator.

Karin Lightfoot, Director of School of Nursing, said of Candice, "I cannot imagine where the School of Nursing would be if Ms. Sawyer had not been in the ASC role during these intense, demanding, and exhausting times. She is incredibly worthy of the Outstanding Staff Award for her dedication, hard work, innovation, and collaboration demonstrated these past two-plus years."

2021 - 2022: Bill Koperwhats 

bill koperwhatsBill is one of the two winners of the Outstanding Staff Award for 2022. Bill started working for Chico State in 2013 as an Instructional Support Technician for the Geological and Environmental Sciences (GEOS) department (now known as the Earth and Environmental Sciences (ERTH) as of 2022). Bill was instrumental and absolutely indispensable during the move to the new building. Nearly every GEOS/ERTH space has had Bill’s input. His ability to make creative suggestions when planning for classroom and lab layouts, his innate sense to eliminate redundancies and his tenacity to do the research in order to obtain the most cost-effective purchases all contributed to the success of the move.

Todd Greene, department chair of ERTH, remarked, “Bill is a great conversationalist and truly holds the department together. As Chair, I noticed that there are many issues where folks go to Bill first. He would decide if I needed to know or not. Sometimes, folks didn’t want me to know and that was fine because I trust Bill. If there was one reason I feel Bill Koperwhats deserves the Outstanding Staff Award it is because he is simply the heart of the department.”

2020 - 2021: All college staff

This year we have decided to recognize all staff in the College of Natural Sciences.  As all staff have adapted to new challenges, new ways of doing our work and supporting students, we are truly impressed and appreciative for each and every member of our staff.

2019–2020: All college staff

This year due to COVID-19, we are presenting ALL college staff with the Outstanding Staff Award. Why? Because all staff have been outstanding. We simply were not able to say that the performance by any individual was more impressive than the collective performance that was brought to our COVID response.

2018–2019: Kathy Johns

Kathy with her award

Kathy first joined the college when she joined the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department in 2003. After faithfully serving Chemistry, she moved the Biological Sciences Department in 2011 where she’s become the backbone of the office. Her proactive approach to working with faculty, students and office staff hasn’t gone unnoticed as a biology faculty member stated, “Kathy has been the steady hand at the wheel. She has done an amazing job training the other staff and students, ensuring that faculty are fully supported.”  

Her commitment to the department and college has been evident as she’s freely and cheerfully willing to help college staff and faculty in whatever they may need. Always willing to lend a hand to a struggling student or faculty member regardless of the department they work for. As a true team player, Kathy encourages staff to take advantage of development opportunities as she knows that it’s a critical component to running a motivated and efficient office. She too leads by example and is always trying to improve herself.

The Biological Sciences Departments is truly luckily to have such a committed and knowledgeable staff member like Kathy.

2017–2018: Lorna Abbott

LornaLorna Abbott has worked at Chico State for nearly 30 years. She is one of those once in a lifetime employees who is highly competent and dedicated to her job and most importantly is dedicated to the success of the students of the Nutrition and Food Science (NFSC) Program. The department fears the day she announces her retirement as she is truly irreplaceable. Lorna brings her rich history and understanding of the University to her job every day. She looks at each day as the chance to learn and further develop our program. Lorna, until recently, single handedly managed the laboratory preparation for four of the Department’s courses – Introduction to Food Science; Science of Food; Cultural Foods and Foodservice Equipment and Production Systems. She is a team player helping to make sure these courses are outstanding learning experiences for our students. She directly and indirectly works with over 140 students each week who go through the Department’s labs. She is always willing to help out a faculty member or student on any issue related to the lab or a faculty member’s course and takes the lead role in assuring that instructors and teaching associates know all the safety procedures associated with the Department’s labs. She has a great sense of humor and is kind and caring. She is well deserving of the Outstanding Staff Award for her dedication and work ethic (she has the best attendance record of any staff in the College of Natural Sciences!). The faculty, staff and students of NFSC know how lucky we are to have the privilege of working with Lorna.

Clare Clifford

2016–2017: Clare Clifford

Clare joined the Department of Physics as the Administrative Support Coordinator (ASC) in 2011, with the rich experience of seven years in the College of Business student advising and dean's offices. "Clare is a problem solver. Regardless of the situation, she is always doggedly determined to find an effective solution to any obstacle." "Clare possesses the skills and knowledge to stay on top of things. She is always well informed, organized, insightful, and creative." This is how Clare is viewed in her physics colleagues' eyes. In physics students' hearts, "Clare is mother-like!" "She always goes above and beyond to help us!" "When students return after graduation, forget the faculty - they always want to stop by and say hello to Clare." Clare is also appreciated and respected by her peer ASCs in the College as "She openly shares her years of office knowledge with any staff member asking for help, at all ranks." "The thing I appreciate most about Clare, though, is her good attitude. While very high energy, she's hardly ever upset. She remains flexible to change, and there has been considerable change in NSC that I've witnessed Clare handling with professionalism and much humor. This makes her a good role model for newer ASCs in the College, and deserves recognition." These are some of the reasons Clare was chosen to receive the NSC's 2016-2017 Outstanding Staff Award.

Clare Clifford

2015–2016: Betsey Tamietti

Starting in 2005, Betsey has been working with the Biological Sciences department, as the third floor stockroom media tech. In 2012, she completed her Master's degree. The title of her thesis was, "Distribution and Conservation of Reduced P Metabolism Operons in Bacteria."

Betsey preps all microbiology courses and upper division cell and molecular biology courses. Over the last several years the number of micro majors has increased by 50% while the cell/molec majors has increased by over 100%, leading to her having to prep 10 to 15 more sections a year. She has also had to keep up with changes in technology and new types of experiments, while also supporting three new faculty and helping them with their start-up funds. Betsey was also the 2014 recipient of the Regas Award for her efforts in replacing a -80 freezer. Despite the large expansion in her workload, she has remained calm and helpful to faculty and students. This over-the-top effort to help faculty and students succeed is the reason Betsey has been chosen for this award.

Lisa Washburn

2014–2015: Lisa Washburn

Lisa first started working for Chico State in 1985, where she spent her first four years in the nursing and education departments. She then found her home in the College of Natural Sciences as the ASC for physics, where she has worked for most of her career. In 2012 she transitioned into the ASC position for the department of mathematics and statistics where she works today. Lisa has established herself as one of the most competent and knowledgeable ASC's in the university. Lisa is a tireless worker and always ensures that her office is running efficiently, smoothly, and joyously. She has also served on numerous department, college, and university committees.