Nelson Institute administrator named NASA Unsung Hero and receives Pringle Award for University Staff

December 22, 2020

Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research (CCR) and Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) administrator Laurel Fletcher has been named a NASA Unsung Hero and received the Pringle Award for University Staff.

In her role with the Nelson Institute, Fletcher assists with onboarding, reimbursements, arranging travel for fieldwork and conferences, administrative policy, purchasing, arranging scientific conferences, and more.

“My goal is to make the tasks easier for the scientists, professors, and grad students, so they can concentrate on their research,” said Fletcher. “I like to find ways to conserve our funding, such as organizing conferences and travel as economically as possible, so that it can be stretched as much as possible to support students and environmental research. The work that our research teams do is crucial in advancing environmental conservation, and I want to be a good steward of their money. When possible, I also like to offer eco-friendlier options in areas like conference hosting, catering, and travel.”

In recognition of her work on campus, Fletcher received the 2020 Elizabeth S. Pringle Award, which recognizes one outstanding staff member annually who holds an office support title. Nominations are reviewed by a five-person committee and Fletcher was selected from around 60 nominations.

“Laurel’s commitment to SAGE goes absolutely above and beyond,” said SAGE director, Carol Barford. “She is always being proactive and is especially concerned with making sure that nothing bad happens to anybody. She is concerned about anything that is going to make life hard for people, whether it is their appointment, their paycheck, or their travel. She is always looking out for us.”

In addition to Fletcher’s work on campus-level initiatives, Fletcher was also named a NASA Unsung Hero for her work on NASA-HAQAST (Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team). With Fletcher’s help, the HAQAST program organized a multi-day conferences of about 130 researchers, which was held in different cities around the country. Fletcher helped the team with venue contracts, bidding for hotel room blocks, purchasing, navigating policy of payments to federal employees, and arranging travel.  Fletcher was nominated by her teammates including fellow staff and faculty.

“I am very grateful to have received these awards; they come as a piece of good news in an uncertain year,” Fletcher said. “Throughout 2020 we have had to figure out new ways of managing our work, at a time of change, adapting to new situations as they come up.  It feels great to be able to support such great and appreciative research teams, and the valuable work that they are accomplishing.”