Chemistry technician named first Augustana recipient of UAlberta support staff award

David King, a chemistry technician at the University of Alberta's Augustana Campus, is the first person from Augustana to win the award.

Tia Lalani - 21 December 2018

David celebrating his award with his colleagues in chemistry. Left to right: James Kariuki, Brian Rempel, David King, Elizabeth McGinitie and Magrieta Snyman. Photo courtesy of David King.

Over the last year and a half, Augustana chemistry technician David King has accomplished a lot. From taking a lead role in the development of our new science labs to transitioning various lab courses into the new calendar and participating in various campus and community events. It was no wonder, then, that David added another accomplishment to his list last month as this year's recipient of the University of Alberta Support Staff Recognition Award.

If the only criteria were excelling at the job, David would have it in a heartbeat. As one of two chemistry technicians, David looks after all of our chemistry labs and acts as the contact for anything and everything chemistry-tech related.

"You have to be very good at troubleshooting and multitasking to do this job," said Peter Berg, head of the Department of Science. "David encompasses all of that, along with being very motivated and extremely creative. Plus, people love him."

Alongside an incredible work ethic and friendliness that extends above and beyond what's required, David is an ambassador of the University of Alberta and Augustana, where he's studied and worked for over fifteen years. Augustana is more than just a workplace for David, who said he feels "really humbled to be a representative of this campus."

David is not only the first Support Staff Recognition Award recipient from Augustana but the first ever nomination as well. And though winning the award may have come as a shock to him, it did not to his coworkers and colleagues. As someone who is "frequently the glue that holds Chemistry together…invariably cheerful and helpful, and always eager to offer help or suggestions for solving problems," according to his anonymous letters for support, David is more than deserving.

During the Celebration of Service event, quotes from David's nominators ran on screen as he received the award. Photo courtesy of David King.

His work over the last year included volunteering his time for Young Medical Minds, a community program that allows a group of grade eight students interested in medicine to be paired with a doctor in town and take workshops at various medical offices and spaces around town, including the Augustana science labs. David takes charge of this group and although he doesn't teach them anything medically oriented, introduces them to the scientific method and some experimentation. "If you want to get into medicine, you have to start with science," David explained of creating lava lamps or slime, or presenting Augustana's 3D printer to the students in the program. "The students love it; I'm told it's their favourite stop," he beams, "because they get to do something with their hands. I love getting students to understand that science-and especially chemistry-isn't scary or dangerous. It can be crazy fun."

Along with Young Medical Minds, David let children and adults alike perform similar experiments on Discover Science Saturday during last year's Alumni Weekend. He especially liked the fact that the event brought all of the different aspects of science at Augustana-chemistry, biology, physics and environmental-into one lab where everybody could test something out. He was also excited to be involved in Alumni Weekend as an alumnus himself. "What I got from Alumni Weekend was twofold," he explained. "It felt like I was giving back to the campus that has been so good to me, and also felt good to show possible prospective students that Augustana is a really cool place."

Although modest about his own qualities, David's passion no-doubt comes from the work environment that he loves and can't boast enough about. "A student doesn't come to Augustana and say it was a lackluster experience," David says.

The campus feels the same way about him.