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Soon after Joan Longo joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology five years ago, she had moments when she questioned just what she had gotten herself into. "We had difficulties with the animal facility staffing, such that on some weekends I came in and actually fed the mice, fed chickens pumped up on estrogen, picked up the eggs and swept the floors and said to myself, 'This was not in my job description!' We have since obtained a lot of Canadian Foundation for Innovation funding and excellent support from the dean of medicine to revitalize our department."
Longo is the department's administrative assistant, and she was understandably dismayed at some tasks she found herself doing. However, it is this "getting things done" approach to her work that has landed her this year's Anne McCormick Award for Excellence in the Faculty of Medicine for her outstanding contributions.
She was hired after the administrative assistant position had been vacant for 18 months so she had to fill in a lot of gaps at the onset. "I restructured and reorganized. We have a flowcytometry facility and an animal facility that were in disarray and our operating budget had to be reorganized." She makes sure that things are getting done, from necessary administrative work, to seeing that electrical sockets are compatible with the freezers.
Longo says that while the department may be small, there are a large number of students that pass through every year. The small size also means that everyone has to be able to do a bit of everything as there are fewer specialized staff on board. There is no budget officer, so Longo does the budget. She says that everyone works very hard and cooperatively. In some cases, that has meant that everyone gets together to pitch in if a faculty member is working on a grant.
The department runs more smoothly now. Eleven new professors have joined over the last five years, and all the restructuring and renovations have really paid off: the unit is thriving, according to Longo. She credits Chair Greg Matlashewski's enthusiastic leadership for revitalizing the department.
Longo says she loves working in an educational environment and has become an active member of McGill. She has volunteered for the Centraide Committee, and when the Banner project was introduced she adopted it wholeheartedly, even running lunchtime Banner workshops and providing user feedback to the project development committee. She also became active in a management forum, ending up being its chair. Longo says co-workers sometimes tease her, asking if she ever sleeps. In fact, she uses a slight case of insomnia to her advantage. When she finds she cannot sleep she just gets up and does some work.
Longo says she believes volunteering is important: "I believe everyone should give back to the community," she says. "It can cut into my weekend time but I'm lucky because my children are older so I have flexibility." Her three sons are 24, 23 and 19 years old. Longo's husband is a teacher, so at home she often does extra paperwork while he grades papers.
When she's not doing work during her off-hours, Longo enjoys getting together with friends. She also likes to take her golden retriever, Rocky, out for long walks at places such as Île-de-la-Visitation and she has joined the ranks of iPod enthusiasts.
Longo says she is taking a break from committee work this year, but she has presented her nomination for a seat in Senate. She has also taken up crocheting. A project that started off as making baby booties for a family member evolved into making "Martha ponchos" for friends and cancer patients: word got out and now she has made five using a pattern, available on the internet, of the poncho Martha Stewart wore upon her release from prison. It sounds like even when she's not looking for a way to give back to the community, the community finds her anyway.
— Balbir Gill
"Our results suggest that high-risk patients were no more likely to take proper precautions in the sun than the entire cohort studied."
Spring is a time for new birds, flowers and… journals. This May, students in the Faculty of Law will proudly launch the first volume of the International Journal of Sustainable Development Law and Policy.
The journal is the culmination of several years of preparation, and represents an effort on the part of its founders to bolster the intellectual credibility of sustainable development. Recognizing that the concept has sometimes been dismissed as naive or ideological, the journal will address sustainable development in an honest and open fashion.
"We felt a need for a frank discussion of issues that are important to our future," said Michelle Sanders, editor-in-chief of the new journal. "We also felt it important to emphasize both law and policy in order to bring together various communities such as NGOs, academics and civil society."
The new sustainable development journal is building on a solid pedigree. The student-run McGill Law Journal is regarded as one of the best legal publications in the country, and the editors of the sustainable development journal hope to build on that following. For its first issue, the new journal will be distributed in tandem with its sister publication.
The Sustainable Development journal has also received support from Dean Nicholas Kasirer, the Principal's Office and the McGill Alumni Association.
Although issues will focus on topics like climate change and regional development, the journal is dedicated to publishing submissions from a wide range of topics.
"Our subject matter will be drawn from what is happening in the world," said Sanders. "Sustainable development is an ever-changing and developing field, and we don't want to preclude future editors from deciding what the most important or relevant topic might be at any given time."
"Everything was always wonderful in the Third World and the Middle East until the West came and made things bad."