Photo: Gretchen Ertl
Infinite Mile Award winners were nominated by their colleagues for going above and beyond in their roles at the Institute.
Photo: Gretchen Ertl

School of Science announces 2022 Infinite Mile Awards

Seven staff members are recognized for their dedication to the School of Science and to MIT.

The MIT School of Science has announced the winners of the 2022 Infinite Mile Award. The selected staff members were nominated by their colleagues for going above and beyond in their roles at the Institute. Their outstanding contributions have made MIT a better place.

The following are the 2022 Infinite Mile Award winners in the School of Science:

• Christina Andujar, senior administrative assistant in the Department of Physics, was nominated by Peter Fisher, Edmund Bertschinger, and Matt Cubstead because Andujar “has gone far beyond her assigned role and duties to improve the lives of a great many students at MIT.”

• Monika Avello, an instructor in the Department of Biology, was nominated by Barbara Imperiali, Cathy Drennan, Graham Walker, Adam Martin, Lenny Guarente, David Des Marais, Seychelle Vos, and Jing-Ke Weng because Avello “was always meticulous in attention to detail and never hesitated when we threw out crazy ideas that might make the students gain something unique from the class — even if it gave her ever more things to do.”

• David Orenstein, director of communications in The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, was nominated by Li-Huei Tsai, Mriganka Sur, Earl Miller, Gloria Choi, William Lawson, Asha Bhakar, Julie Pryor, Raleigh McElvery, and Julia Keller because Orenstein is “always willing to help out in whatever way is needed, whether as a part of a brainstorming session about any given topic, or lending a helping hand for an event or something else going on with the Institute. His dedication to the mission of the Picower Institute is unquestionable and it is evident in everything he does.”

• Dennis Porche, assistant to the department head in the Department of Mathematics, was nominated by Michel Goemans, Gigliola Staffilani, Michael Sipser, and Amanda Kuhl because Porche “has been amazingly dedicated to the well-being of the mathematics department at MIT, and cares tremendously about everything that goes on in the department. He will spend many hours making sure everything is perfect, nothing or no one is omitted, everyone is properly acknowledged, and everything goes smoothly.”

• Joshua Stone, administrative assistant in the Department of Biology, was nominated by Michael Laub, Hallie Dowling-Huppert, Alex Pike, Rebecca Chamberlain, and Janice Chang because Stone “has driven a movement to create an inclusive environment for staff within the biology department, implementing programs for welcoming new staff and establishing peer mentoring to increase the sense of inclusion within the department. These efforts are essential to shifting the culture and integrating pillars of DEI into the everyday operations of the biology department.”

• Sierra Vallin, academic administrator in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, was nominated by Michale Fee, Laura Schulz, Rebecca Saxe, Joshua McDermott, Mehrdad Jazayeri, Mark Harnett, Kate White, Laura Frawley, Kian Caplan, Di Kang, Halie Olson, Tobias Kaiser, and Julianne Ormerod because Vallin is “truly incredible” and “goes way above and beyond the call of duty to help students and other staff,” and for her “willingness to stand up for staff throughout our building, and to support our ongoing diversity efforts.”

• Shannon Wagner, senior administrative assistant in the Department of Chemistry, was nominated by Troy Van Voorhis, Stephen Buchwald, Jeremiah Johnson, Rick Danheiser, Richard Wilk, and Jennifer Weisman because Wagner “is someone who goes far above and beyond her usual call of duty. Her work has positively impacted many in the department including our students. She demonstrates an exceptional commitment to every aspect of her work and the staff with whom she works. Our department is a far better place with her in it.”