Like so many others across the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, Kathleen Maistros has been so preoccupied with work over the past year that everything outside of pressing business sort of fell by the wayside. Now, after nearly twelve months of nonstop effort, Maistros – who works as an analytical chemist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense – has looked up long enough to find herself the winner of the USAMRDC Employee of the Quarter award.
“I was a bit surprised, to be honest,” says Maistros of the honor, which specifically highlights the work she performed during the fourth quarter of 2020. “A lot of groups at our organization specifically have been pretty strained post-COVID, so I know our group isn’t the only one experiencing a heavy workload while being short-staffed.”
Indeed, her efforts in assuming more (and greater) responsibility over the past several months specifically have made a substantial impact. Notably, Maistros’ work in revising and updating a slew of existing standard operating procedures – and even writing a few new SOPs of her own – while taking the lead in revising the USAMRICD Laboratory Services Department (LSD) Quantitative Data Quality Process and LSD Quality Plan, were integral in the success of both the Institute and the larger Command over that time period. The latter contributions were key factors in securing compliance (on a number of fronts) with the Army Futures Command Surety Management Team and the Department of the Army Inspector General, according to supervisory staff.
“I feel proud of the work that our team has been able to put together despite the many challenges we have faced over the past several months,” says Maistros, who chalks up at least a portion of her team’s success to the ability to pivot to telework in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic; a strategy which has, in turn, bred new strategies to help communicate and also prioritize shifting deadlines and requirements. Says Maistros, “Any recognition a member of our team receives really reflects the work of the team as a whole simply because we work so well together.”
An analytical chemist at USAMRICD for the past nine years, Maistros and her colleagues are a critical part of the research mission as they are charged with maintaining and providing quality chemical surety material to researchers for the development of therapeutics, pre-treatments, prophylactics, diagnostic tools, and any number of other field products. In short, they ensure the threat agents being studied by USAMRDC research teams are properly accounted for, stored, and prepared at the correct dose levels. It is work that is – just as it sounds – equal parts crucial and exacting.
Says Maistros, “Ultimately our work benefits the Warfighter and the Nation at large [by] ensuring they are better protected against accidental or intentional exposure to a variety of chemical agents, toxic materials, and other hazardous substances.”
A veteran of the USAMRDC Mission, the importance of Maistros’ efforts are revealed to an even greater degree given current global circumstances and, further, the impact the current pandemic has placed on personnel Command-wide. It’s that same personnel – co-workers, teammates, and their enduring effort and positive attitude – that have, in Maistros’ words, made her personal success possible.
“The most rewarding part of my job is working with a really great group of people,” she says. “We genuinely enjoy being around each other and communicate very well together.”
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