Outstanding New Staff Member 2011

Outstanding New Staff Member Shari Fanta

Shari Fanta came to the ISGS from the Illinois Natural History Survey in 2009 as a Laboratory Specialist. Her skill in laboratory function and management has proved to be an asset to the ISGS, as has her commitment to training laboratory personnel, communicating, and collaborating. She is dedicated to cooperation, teamwork, managing the day-to-day operations of the Stable Isotope Service Laboratories, and getting the job done. She has a phenomenal work ethic and is one of the most upbeat and personable people at the Survey.

The ISGS Stable Isotope Service Laboratories are responsible for the analysis of approximately 3,800 water, gas, and solid samples submitted each year by researchers from within the Survey and across the globe. These are an integral part of the ISGS, and Fanta has become an integral part of the laboratories. Her responsibilities include operating the isotope ratio mass spectrometer, gas chromatograph, and other analytical equipment in the Geochemistry Section, much of which is aging or old. Fanta must use her mechanical aptitude and skills to make the repairs and adjustments needed to keep it running. Soon after she arrived at the ISGS, the mass spectrometer, a key piece of analytical equipment, quit working. Fanta worked with ISGS staff, other researchers, and service technicians for months to fix the operational problems with it. Once the spectrometer was repaired, Fanta then had another task—processing the backlog of samples that had accrued while the machine was down. Fanta worked tirelessly, many times 7 days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day, for months in an effort to clear up the backlog, all while continuing to manage the daily responsibilities of the laboratory, including supervising several hourly staff.

Fanta recently accepted a new role in the Geochemistry Section as an Associate Geochemist and now manages all the day-to-day operations of the Stable Isotope Service Laboratories. Because of her exemplary level of commitment, dedication to cooperation and collaboration, attention to detail, excellent follow through, conscientiousness, and optimal data quality, Fanta is well respected among her peers. She is humble and quick to give others credit but quietly tenacious, chipping away at a problem until finding a solution.

Fanta’s plaque reads, “Outstanding New Staff Member Award: Shari Fanta, in recognition of your demonstrated excellence in performance and commitment to quality work in the Isotope Geochemistry Service Laboratories for the benefit of the people of Illinois.”

In addition to the plaque, Fanta received a monetary award to be used for work-related purposes.