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USAC award winners with Neeli Bendapudi

Matt Jones honored with 2023 Staff Excellence Award by University Staff Advisory Council

30 May 2023

Matt Jones, research assistant in Department of Biology and the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, is one of three outstanding Penn State staff members to be recognized with awards for their accomplishments and contributions to the University by University Staff Advisory Council (USAC).

Additional honorees this year include Yu Tai Chung, director of information technology (IT) in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, and Alexandria Kinder, staff psychologist in Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). The recipients were presented with their awards on May 19 in a ceremony in Old Main’s Alumni Lounge. 

“The USAC Awards Committee extends our sincerest congratulations to this year’s USAC Staff Award winners,” said Susan Warner, USAC awards committee chair. “We received a large number of nominations this year making selections all the more challenging, but that’s a good problem to have. It was inspiring for the committee to read about so many of our colleagues and the contributions they are making day in and day out to their units and the University community. We would also like to thank all those who took the time to submit nominations to recognize their outstanding coworkers.”  

USAC award winners with Neeli Bendapudi
From left, Yu Tai Chung, recipient of the Staff Leadership Award; Alexandria Kinder, recipient of the Staff Morale Award; Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi; Matt Jones, recipient of the Staff Excellence Award; and Terra Ingram, USAC chair. Credit: Penn State.

Jones is the recipient of the Staff Excellence Award. This award recognizes an employee who behaves in an honest and ethical manner while embracing an understanding of social norms and other people’s perspectives. They foster creativity in problem solving, take initiative to make processes and procedures better and make outstanding contributions to the University, their community and their work unit. 

Jones is known for his can-do attitude, extensive knowledge, dedication to process improvement, attention to detail, problem solving and his warm and welcoming demeanor. His numerous nominators described his respect and appreciation for the diverse backgrounds of all those he works with and his dedication to finding the best ways to teach people new skills to fulfill their individual roles in the lab to the best of their abilities.  

According to his nominators, Jones was at the center of the University’s wastewater surveillance program during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was in the lab daily during the early weeks of the pandemic analyzing samples that helped University leadership and others understand the constant changing environment around the pandemic. In addition, Jones’ lab management skills were crucial as he anticipated supply chain shortages surrounding the new and rapidly growing field of wastewater-based epidemiology, and he was able to build relationships with suppliers to ensure the lab had what it needed, while also reducing potential costs. 

In a letter of support, a colleague said, “Matt Jones is a powerful force for good at Penn State. He lifts our game as a global research university … He recruited, managed and continues to grow what is now a world-class wastewater monitoring team. His focus is excellence, always delivered cheerfully. He is a joy to have in the group and has far exceeded our wildest expectations. Penn State is fortunate to have Matt Jones as an employee.” 

Information about Chung and Kinder can be found on Penn State News.

About the University Staff Advisory Council 

USAC serves the president and her administration in an advisory capacity through the vice president of human resources about issues that have an impact on staff across the University. USAC provides a forum for the exchange of ideas among members of the University staff and serves as an advocate for staff welfare and development. 

For more information, visit USAC’s webpage on the Penn State Human Resources website.