July 02, 2020

Most people don’t realize there are staff in the Faculty of Science who have been on site every weekday since the campus closure.

Their work is crucial for keeping animals, insects, specimens and research alive.

Four staff members in Science Stores and Receiving, along with their leader Ruth Appanah, the technical director of Facilities and Operations, are critical to a faculty that relies on wet labs and live specimens to conduct research and teaching.

Appanah and her staff service labs that are conducting COVID-related research, instructors who need supplies for online demos, and researchers who have plants, animals and specimens that require supplies for their feeding and maintenance.

“Gases, materials, personal protective equipment and sanitizers are still in high demand and we’re there to ensure the supply chain is working and that materials are shipped and received in a timely manner,” she says.

Jocelyn Lee, David Lee, Peter Whalley and Gino Porco have been spending half of their working week on campus distributing and receiving supplies, and the other half working from home ordering materials and solving supply-chain issues.

The COVID pandemic has created infamous product shortages and the team has been tasked with finding these products in the most cost-effective and timely way.  

In spite of the extra stress they are all experiencing, Appanah was pleased to see the team jump aboard a recent community initiative.  She is referring to the recent sourcing, mixing and distribution of hand sanitizer that was donated to front-line workers in Surrey. 

The materials were purchased, ordered and mixed according to specifications set by the World Health Organization (WHO).  With the help of SFU administrators including Dean of Science Paul Kench and Executive Director of the Surrey campus, Steve Dooley, the team bottled and distributed 800 bottles of hand sanitizer.

“While we’re rather isolated on campus,” says Appanah, “this initiative helped us realize that we’re in this together and that we can contribute to helping our community.”