Ms. Cynthia K. Faulk will receive this year’s The University of Texas President's Outstanding Staff Award for her dedication to promoting advances in research and cultivating a learning atmosphere for the students and staff. Credit: Venus Mills, UTMSI.
Cindy received both her bachelor’s degree and her master’s degree from UT. Upon completion of her graduate degree, she was employed for a few years outside the university, but soon found her way back. She has been working full time at UT for just over 18 years, starting as a Research Scientist Assistant and rising through the ranks to Research Scientist Associate III. Throughout that time, she has worked at the Fisheries and Mariculture Laboratory of the UT Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas. Cindy’s job in a nutshell is to facilitate research, but that covers a lot of territory and requires a variety of skills, all of which she has mastered.
One of the core values of UT is learning (“A caring community, all of us students, helping one another grow”). Cindy epitomizes this core value with every person she assists at work. Mostly, this involves her teaching them critical skills they require to do their research, whether it is rearing young fish, conducting biochemical analyses, analyzing data, or writing reports. She patiently provides them training so they have the skills they need now and for their future. The following are a few excerpted quotes of former students and colleagues: “I overlapped with Cindy for two years at the Marine Science Institute (MSI) while I was conducting postdoctoral research. Over this time, I was regularly impressed by Cindy’s extremely organized nature and creativity.” “Cindy’s patience with students and conscientiousness in the lab have been crucial in not only keeping the fisheries program functional (even on weekends and holidays), but successful for both the University of Texas and graduates of the program alike. She has a deep understanding of all aspects of the laboratory, and is always willing to teach students about laboratory equipment, animal care, and research techniques. Cindy has an undeniable dedication to her work, science, and animal welfare, which is inspiring for all those who work with her.” “Not only is she outstanding because she is highly skilled at raising larval fish (a very difficult feat), but because during larval rearing season Ms. Faulk works practically non-stop, tirelessly coming into the lab 7 days a week to tend to the fish while also keeping up with her other fatty acid analysis, writing, training, and safety duties. Ms. Faulk is a phenomenal person to work with and truly deserving of the Outstanding Staff Award.”
Another core value of the university is Discovery (“Expanding knowledge and human understanding”). The key responsibilities of Cindy’s position center around assisting others with research (discovery), as her job title implies. Indeed, her contributions to the research of others have been so significant that she has been included as a co-author on 11 scholarly papers that have been published in top peer-reviewed scientific journals. But Cindy has greatly exceeded the expectations of her job by initiating her own research and leading every stage of the research effort including designing and conducting the experiments, analyzing the data and writing the reports. She has been so successful that she has published 10 additional articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals as first author.
Cindy Faulk is an extraordinarily dedicated employee who works hard to provide valuable service to a wide variety of customers (her supervisor, other faculty members, graduate students, undergraduate students, visiting scientists). What’s more, she is always amazingly cheerful and helpful and does not hesitate to commit to projects that require her attention outside of normal working hours in order to produce better results. This kind of dedicated support enables us to accomplish important research and produce high-quality results. Her dedication to our university, her meticulous attention to detail in her daily activities, her ability to anticipate problems and arrive at creative solutions, and her deep concern for the well-being of fellow employees and animals in her care are traits that she imparts to those who work with her. In these ways, she transforms lives.
The awards ceremony will be held on May 13, 2016, at 10 a.m. in the LBJ Auditorium in Austin, Texas. Excerpts from this story were provided by Professor Lee A. Fuiman.