For nearly 30 years, Gloria Stuckey has worked at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Biology Department as the laboratory manager. She assists faculty, staff and students with any questions in the lab, while supervising student employees.
“I often tell our student employees, you won’t get rich working for us, but you will gain valuable skills and experience,” said Stuckey, a 1983 graduate of UW-Platteville. “The same can be said for students who participate in independent research projects.”
Stuckey notes receiving the 2016 Academic Staff Award for Excellence has been one of her proudest professional accomplishments throughout her career. When Stuckey isn’t preparing for an upcoming lab, she enjoys spending time with her two daughters and six grandchildren.
You are an alumna of UW-Platteville, earning your bachelor’s degree in animal science. Prior to your tenure as the biology laboratory manager, you were a veterinary assistant. Why did you want to return to a university setting and work for your alma mater?
To be honest, this was not where I thought I would end up. I did receive my Bachelor of Science degree in animal science in 1983, but then came back to UW-Platteville to complete my pre-vet requirements. My dream was to become a veterinarian and I was accepted to the Veterinary School at UW-Madison in 1987. Unfortunately, I received my acceptance letter while my husband was recovering from a horrific car accident. I took the job as a veterinary assistant to help provide for my family. When the lab manager position was posted it provided me with additional income and some health insurance. The quote by Alexander Graham Bell, “When one door closes, another opens” is certainly true here. I was given a new opportunity and it turned out great.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
Every day is different, but most days will involve some laboratory preparation and set up. I may also be ordering supplies and equipment or checking on the status of an order. I keep a close eye on the supply budget and compare our expenses to Wisconsin Data Mart (WISDM). Any new lab equipment is labeled and added to our inventory and chemicals need to be labeled and added to the Manage Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSonline) database. I am often providing lab safety resources to students and correcting lab safety exams. Locating supplies, meetings and of course email are also daily activities.
As the laboratory manager, you have several responsibilities including lab preparations, management of hazardous materials and safety training of student employees. What is the biggest challenge of working with so many different materials?
The biggest challenge is the logistics of everything. I try to look a week or two ahead to make sure I have the items needed for the labs. If we need live cultures or corn seedlings for a lab experiment, it doesn’t happen overnight. I make copious notes so I do not forget something.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I had a former student reach out and thank me for the safety training I provided while he was an employee for our department. He said in his job interview he was asked some questions about safety and was able to answer them with ease. He was certain it helped him land the job. Knowing I helped someone on their life path is very rewarding.
I work with individuals who are passionate about helping their students succeed. I am thankful to be a part of that mission.
What are your interests outside of campus?
Horses have always been a passion of mine. From my earliest childhood memories, I was one of those horse crazy girls. I read stories, drew pictures and wanted to be near them whenever possible. I finally got my first pony when I was 9-years-old and my passion only increased.
I love all animals and currently own a German Shepherd named Ali. She is very intelligent and well trained. We have attended many classes together at That’s My Dog in Dubuque.
My other hobbies are mostly outdoor sports, although I am not a fan of the cold weather anymore, so they are mainly warm weather activities. I recently started playing tennis again. I am taking lessons in Lancaster from one of our own biology faculty, Rich Dhyanchand. I enjoy horseback riding, kayaking, bicycling, gardening, camping and hiking.