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Cody Named Research STAR

Facilities operations manager recognized for her dedication, focus

Mary Ann Cody

Mary Ann Cody was honored with summer’s Office for Research STAR (Staff Team Award Recognition). Photo by Matt Golosinski

Mary Ann Cody didn’t expect to develop an up-close-and-personal relationship with every square inch of the Center for Comparative Medicine (CCM) space at Northwestern’s new Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center.

However, her demand for excellence and attention to detail led Cody — and a small team of CCM colleagues — to embark on a meticulous review of all 3.5 million square inches of flooring. Any imperfections called for repair and the repairs called for another painstaking review until after a few weeks the team had scoured the same 25,000 square feet numerous times.

“Our hands, knees, and backs were feeling it for sure,” says Cody, manager of facilities operations at CCM. “Once all the floors were completely resurfaced, we re-evaluated them once more before finally deeming them acceptable.”

The flooring at CCM is a critical component to ongoing operations because the space is subjected to high levels of foot traffic as well as heavy equipment. By ensuring that the project was completed properly, CCM expects to make only minor repairs — saving time and money — in the near term.

For her efforts, Cody, who began her career at CCM in 2003, was honored with summer’s Office for Research STAR (Staff Team Award Recognition). As one of 17 Northwestern Research units, the Center for Comparative Medicine is a core service, teaching, and training office dedicated to supporting humane animal care and use in research and education.

“I was unaware that I was nominated for the award, so I was definitely taken aback when I won,” says Cody. “I am very appreciative of the recognition, although it’s part of who I am to always conduct my actions in the best interest of Northwestern, my colleagues, and all University research subjects.”

Among her numerous responsibilities, Cody is the CCM point-person for renovation and new-construction projects, emergency management planning, after-hour issues associated with facilities management, office moves, and equipment upgrades and replacement. She also joined a team of 10 CCM staff members who volunteered to participate in the Northwestern Community Emergency Response Team, the first team certified on the Chicago campus.

“Mary Ann is an extremely reliable and compassionate employee who works to provide the safest and most secure environment for our staff and researchers,” says C.J. Arnett, CCM director of facility operations. “It’s not uncommon for Mary Ann to start her day at 6 a.m. and still be on site at 6 p.m. She is an extremely dedicated and focused individual who always displays a strong desire to do what is right.”

Arnett also credits Cody as the person who often identifies heating and cooling issues within CCM facilities.

“In addition to the flooring fix, Mary Ann’s diligence detected various HVAC issues that needed to be fixed before the CCM space could open,” said Jay Walsh, vice president for research, reading from Cody’s award nomination at June’s staff appreciation event. “She carefully went through the entire facility, documenting any issues and ensuring that they were fixed.”

During her 15-year career at Northwestern, Cody has helped open three CCM spaces — in Pancoe, Lurie, and most recently, in the Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center. With expanded research capabilities, Northwestern has continued to garner more sponsored research awards, which grew to $702.1 million last fiscal year. In the past 10 years, annual sponsored research has risen 60 percent ($263 million). Last year alone, the University’s Sponsored Research Office processed more than $3 billion in award proposals.

“To be part of this unparalleled growth in research has been amazing,” says Cody. “The commitment that Northwestern has made in support of research has been extraordinary and I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of it.”

OR STAR was designed to recognize Northwestern Research employees who demonstrate leadership and support Research goals to achieve excellence at all levels. Nominees reflect the University’s values and promote a workplace culture that embraces collegiality, communication, compliance, customer focus, efficiency, and planning. The OR STAR Award includes a $300 cash prize.

By Roger Anderson