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Amy Brooks awarded Staff Excellence Award for extraordinary efforts in difficult times

In addition to stepping up in remarkable ways during the past two years, Brooks has been known for her collaborative initiative, technical competence, and empathy to those in need.

Amy Brooks, Research Administration Manager for the Optics and Photonics team, has been awarded a Staff Excellence Award from the College of Engineering in recognition of her exemplary service to faculty, staff, and students in the area of Optics & Photonics, as well as the Gérard Mourou Center for Ultrafast Optics Science.

Brooks has faced more challenges than most during the past two years. While dealing with the burden of the pandemic, she took on the responsibilities of two additional staff members who departed. 

“I am proud to have Amy on my side as a beacon of utmost professionalism, engagement, dedication, and service spirit,” said Prof. Mack Kira, who became the Optics & Photonics area chair last year. “Considering the adversities she is still facing, I am simply amazed how she manages it all.”

“Somehow she carries it all off with good cheer!” added Prof. Ted Norris, who expressed his appreciation for her expert contributions to managing a large NSF research center in past years. 

Speaking of her contributions as part of a team with former colleague Car Nosel, Norris added, “Car and Amy ran what should be a model for research center management. They did an unbelievable job; I do not know of any better center management team here or at other universities where I have been a review panelist.”

Brooks has since been promoted to her current position after the unexpected passing of her friend and colleague Nosel. She has handled the transition brilliantly, while also dealing with her personal loss.

Among the responsibilities handed to her were overseeing a $16M upgrade of ZEUS (Zettawatt-Equivalent Ultrashort Pulse Laser System). In addition, she has begun the process of managing $18.5M in operations over the next few years for this NSF user facility that aims to welcome researchers from around the world. 

ZEUS serves faculty in multiple departments at Michigan, which presents unique challenges in communication and collaboration. Prof. Louise Willingale, who serves as Associate Director for ZEUS, praised Brooks’ initiative in bringing together staff and faculty from both departments to ensure the smooth operation of the laser facility.

I am proud to have Amy on my side as a beacon of utmost professionalism, engagement, dedication, and service spirit.

Prof. Mack Kira

As a research administrator, Brooks has experience supporting faculty who are leading or preparing unusually large grants. Several faculty remarked on her expert assistance with large multi-institutional grant proposals – adding that even the faculty outside U-M called her a “marvel.” 

Her assistance with the multi-institutional Michigan Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (MI-LSAMP) led to its successful renewal, and this was right after managing multiple facets of the Excellence in Higher Education for Liberian Development (EHELD) program. Included in her responsibilities with EHELD were handling all the arrangements to send students, faculty, and even high school teachers to Liberia, and bringing students from Liberia here to the States.

Several faculty have remarked on Brooks’ quick and accurate response to requests, whether from students, faculty, or other staff. “Even in the pandemic, Amy seems to be continuously available and immediately responsive on email and/or Zoom and in person when needed,” said Prof. Duncan Steel. “Often, associated with grants or student issues, the need is urgent, and she is then immediately available from her office or for a quick Zoom chat, when faculty or students are off site.”

“She is always willing to help anyone (faculty, staff, students, even outside stakeholders) who have not been able to find a solution for their problem,” added Steel. 

Those who have worked with Amy Brooks expressed their thankfulness for her good humor, hard work, relentless positive attitude, skill, and intelligence – as well as her personal empathy.

“I am humbled to receive the award this year,” said Amy. “I was blessed to have an excellent mentor and manager – Car Nosel who provided me with knowledge, guidance and a collaborative working environment so that I could seamlessly take over the Manager position when she was ready. I have dedicated this award to Car’s memory – for without Car this would not have been possible!”

She was honored with her College of Engineering Excellence in Staff Service Award at a public ceremony in Chesebrough Auditorium on May 12, 2022.

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