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School's Jan Berry Wins Major U-M Award

Receives Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence

Ann Arbor, MI — February 5, 2015 — “Jan Berry has made a major impact in the careers of many individuals who have worked with her at the University of Michigan.  In fact, she was crucial in helping me establish my career and expand my scientific network,” wrote Dr. Erin Ealba (DDS 2008), a resident in the School of Dentistry’s graduate program in pediatric dentistry and assistant research scientist. 

Ealba nominated Berry for the university’s Candace Johnson Staff Award for Excellence.  Berry received the award from U-M Provost Martha Pollack during a ceremony today in the school’s Sindecuse Atrium.  All staff members on U-M’s Ann Arbor Campus and the Health System are eligible for the annual award.

Berry, laboratory manager and research associate in the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, was one of 80 who were nominated.  Supporting Ealba’s nomination, were 12 current and former faculty members and research scientists from the School of Dentistry, the Medical School, the National Institutes of Health, and the director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) all describing how Berry helped them during their academic and research careers.

Before she retired in December, Berry was at the School of Dentistry for 21 years.  She worked in the labs of Dr. Martha Somerman, who chaired the department and is now director of NIDCR; Dr. Laurie McCauley, who succeeded Somerman as chair and is now dean of the School of Dentistry; and Dr. Russell Taichman, currently associate dean for research.  Berry also spent 17 years at the Medical School.   

Uncommon Examples of Generosity

Ealba and the 12 others described Berry as “someone who is totally committed to excellence,” “possesses an excitement about science that is contagious to those around her,” “has an easy non-threatening communication style that encourages collaboration that fosters growth,” and “the go-to person if you wanted someone to develop a new and difficult experiment.”

They cited examples of how Berry helped them design experiments in the lab and introduced them to other scientists within the School of Dentistry and across the university.  They also cited examples of Berry’s extraordinary benevolence, including assisting students in finding living accommodations, bringing home-cooked meals to the lab, and taking time to help non-English speakers better understand some of the nuances of English grammar and usage so they could enhance their chances to obtain grants or have their research published.

“A Powerhouse of Research”

“It’s been a privilege to watch the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine in particular, and the School of Dentistry as a whole, grow to be a powerhouse of research and to be a part of that process,” Berry said.  “I was stunned to be nominated for this prestigious award and want to thank Erin for nominating me.  I have enjoyed working at the School of Dentistry and the wonderful people I have met over the years.”

The Candace Johnson Staff Award for Excellence was established in 2004 to recognize an outstanding University of Michigan staff member.  The only other School of Dentistry staff member to receive the award was Meghan Genovese, a staff member in the Office of Academic Affairs.  She received the award in 2005.  The following year, Wanda Snyder, executive secretary in the Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences, was one of 17 finalists for the award.

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