Danielle DeSimone (left) was nominated for Student Employee of the Year by Dr. Andrew Robak.
Working in a chemistry lab full of volatile chemicals may not be for everyone. But for junior Danielle DeSimone, it’s the perfect place, despite the inherent risks of the job.
“Danielle works with strong acids, flammable liquids, and other toxic materials,” says Professor of Chemistry Dr. Andrew Robak. “It requires closer supervision, but Danielle has great lab skills and attention to safety details. Her chemistry work is excellent—I can ask her to make a solution of a specific concentration and she will work out the numbers, check with me, and work with great precision.”
That’s why Dr. Robak nominated Danielle for the Student Employee of the Year award, which honors and recognizes students for their hard work and contributions.
“Danielle has helped me conduct trial lab experiments, research chemical information, used our instrumentation to gather information on different chemical compounds, and undertook major organizational work,” says Dr. Robak, adding that these responsibilities go beyond the basic job requirements.
Dr. Robak says that many professors in the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics have work-study students to assist with lab prep, but Danielle’s experience and skill level far surpass those he could get from someone less experienced in chemistry.
“Her lab organizational help has made both the lab and storage areas a lot more friendly and clean,” says Dr. Robak. “She has helped me immensely in instructional design with her ability to conduct experiments and provide feedback on where directions were confusing and where students might have the most questions. Danielle has had a great impact on my job here.”
Dr. Robak adds that Danielle is a quick learner, communicates well, and is not afraid to ask questions. She needs little guidance, works effectively and independently, and knows the right time to ask for help or more information, “because you can’t be too independent when working with dangerous and flammable chemicals.”
In addition, he says that even after a long day, Danielle is “always cheerful and optimistic, qualities that will serve her well when she completes her nursing program. She is a joy to work with, works hard, and is an invaluable asset to the chemistry labs at Keuka College.”