Marisa Lester Named a 2022 UA Award for Excellence Winner!

March 29, 2022
Group image of people displaying a big check they received

Marisa Lester, Assistant Program Director, Undergraduate Biology Research Program, was shocked and humbled when the ERC surprise patrol came to announced her award and read sections of her nomination letters. She was touched to have a room full of co-workers and some of her students gathered in support and to congratulate her.

Marisa and I are the only two staff in the UBRP office. This is sometimes quite daunting, as the two of us must be able to do all things for our program, including managing applications, selecting student participants, managing the UBRP website, coordinating events, tracking students and alumni, fundraising, managing social media, advertising and recruiting, conducting outreach, advising students, using graphic design to develop materials for distribution, assisting UBRP faculty mentors, teaching classes and workshops, and more. In all of these areas, Marisa has exemplified outstanding achievement in the workplace. It takes a talented person to be able to first learn and then do all of these things, and it’s a rare person that can actually do them all well. Marisa is not only especially capable of learning and managing this enormous bandwidth of tasks, but she is one of the hardest-working and most motivated employees I know. Marisa challenges herself to keep learning and is always looking for ways we can improve and streamline our tasks in UBRP, giving her very best to the University and especially to its students.

Marisa has been instrumental in improving operational efficiency in the UBRP Office. She consistently displays a strong work ethic, high quality of work, and consideration for how she can help those around her. Marisa is realistic and keeps in mind that there is a finite amount of UBRP funding available to support student research experiences, yet she constantly thinks creatively about how our efforts and funds can be stretched as far as possible to provide maximal benefit to our students. An example of this is our recent challenge in figuring out how to convert our highly-tailored yet aging internal student database to a sustainable new computer system.


Beyond her role as Assistant Director of UBRP, Marisa is also well-known for both her resourcefulness and her caring and service-oriented attitude, especially in our building, Life Sciences South (LSS). On any given day, she can be found taking time out of her busy day to help people figure out how to use the new computer technologies in the LSS conference rooms, or helping someone run a query via UAccess Analytics to provide data needed immediately for a grant proposal. When the LSS building manager was pregnant last year, Marisa insisted on literally taking over the heavy lifting, especially since there were many offices and laboratories being moved at that time. None of these things are considered a part of Marisa’s job duties, and her eagerness to help has endeared her to many in the building.

Marisa Lester is a wonderful asset to the University of Arizona and a shining example to her peers. She is a bright, caring, hard-working, and talented young professional, and is a positive impact upon the University community.