Chemistry and Biochemistry

Awards Presented to Faculty and Staff

Posted: Feb 13, 2015

The College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences held its College Annual Awards Banquet on Friday, February 6, 2015. 

Guests included full-time faculty, administrative and staff employees, professors emeriti, and retirees from the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. Three members of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry received special awards at this conference: Sue Mortensen, Executive Department Secretary, received the Outstanding Staff/Administrative Employee Award for 2015; Linda Richards from the Chemistry Central Stockroom received the 10 Year Service Award; and Dr. Roger Harrison received the Distinguished Citizenship Award.

Sue Mortensen started her career at BYU in the Chemistry Business Office in May of 2008. “I was looking for a change in work and wanted something challenging,” she said.  Learning the ins and outs of the Business Office was indeed challenging, but she loved her time there. She worked with Kim Christensen, who she claims is “the best employee trainer around.” Mrs. Mortensen says that Christensen taught her how to find answers to her questions.  Now that she is the Executive Department Secretary, Mrs. Mortensen uses that same model of teaching to train student employees in the office.  One of her current trainees, Maddy Schellenberg, has been very impressed. “Sue is very concerned with making sure everyone is taken care of,” Schellenberg said. “She empowers people.” Nearly every person in the department has some interaction with Mrs. Mortensen. “The best part of my job is working with a mix of faculty and students,” she said. “I love being able to lighten their work and allow them to do what they do best—learn and teach.”

Linda Richards has worked in the Central Chemistry Stockroom for ten years.  Prior to coming to BYU, she was the Science Lab Manager at the USU-Vernal campus, where her husband, Joseph W. Richards, taught Chemistry for many years. After he passed away in 2001, she looked for work that would bring her closer to family on the Wasatch Front.  “I was very blessed to find my current job here in the BYU Chemistry Department,” she said.  As the Receiving Manager in the Stockroom, Mrs. Richards has a variety of duties: she receives all the freight supplies that come for the department, manages the compressed gas cylinder and regulator inventory, and orders specialty cylinders and liquid helium for researchers.  She is also in charge of the liquid nitrogen bulk tank and equipment, as well as the weekly deliveries.  Finally, she trains new student employees and provides specialized ongoing training for current employees. “I love the people I work with said,” said Mrs. Richards. “It’s been wonderful to get to know so many outstanding student employees and then see them go on with their studies and professions and have their own families.  I also have enjoyed very much associating with fellow staff members and with faculty.”

Dr. Roger Harrison was presented with the Distinguished Citizenship Award to recognize his service to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.  Dr. Harrison served as the Inorganic Area Chair for nearly 20 years, and as the Chair of the Curriculum Committee for 11 years.  Dr. Harrison’s favorite service is being involved with students. “I learned very soon after arriving in the department that I enjoyed teaching labs, because I was able to spend time with students and get to know them,” he explained.  Dr. Harrison loves when students participate in class discussions, and also enjoys learning about their lives when they come to his office. “Looking over data, hearing students explain it and what they will try next…that gives me fulfillment,” he said.  Despite all his care and service, however, he was surprised to be presented with the award. “We have so many faculty who serve our department and college,” he said.