Women of NCI at Frederick

By Andrea Frydl, Contributing Writer
Women of NCI

By Andrea Frydl, Contributing Writer

Editor’s note: This article has been updated since it was originally posted on August 22, 2013

Each year, the Employee Diversity Team (EDT) acknowledges a group of women for their great achievements and contributions towards the mission of the National Cancer Institute at Frederick.  Details of their achievements and unique personalities were on display in Building 549 in March, and we present a brief summary of each below:

Sarah HooperSarah Hooper, R.N., M.S., Nurse Practitioner Manager
Occupational Health Services, SAIC-Frederick

An integrated member of NCI at Frederick since 2007, Sarah Hooper ensures that Occupational Health Services (OHS) is helping employees stay safe and healthy.

She manages the day-to-day operations of the OHS clinic at the NCI campus at Frederick and at the Advanced Technology Research Facility (ATRF). “I am proud to work at NCI at Frederick. I am very fortunate to work with a dynamic OHS team of professional staff,” she says. 

When not ensuring the health of employees, Hooper volunteers her time at the Frederick County Career and Technology Center (CTC) Biomedical Advisory Board. The Frederick County CTC is known as a beacon for pre-professional learning and vocational training. “I serve on the advisory committee for biomedical sciences to provide feedback to CTC about the program’s relevance and effectiveness,” Hooper says.

The four objects that represent Hooper are sand, a rock, the sun, and water. “The sand represents me because I often have to flow with work, children, and life,” she says. “The rock represents my work ethic, and the sun [represents] my belief in doing the right thing. The water represents my hobbies because it is fluid and can change shape to meet my schedule and life demands.

Lisa SheffieldLisa Sheffield, Secretary III
Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory, SAIC-Frederick

Lisa Sheffield worked for the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) for almost six years before leaving the facility in June, and she certainly made an impression during her time here. People would often see her walking down the halls of the Advanced Technology Research Facility (ATRF) with a bright smile on her face.

At FNLCR, Sheffield was very much the oil keeping the wheels of NCL moving. Her role was vast—from managing travel to maintaining employees’ calendars. She also processed student records and proofread much of the great work leaving NCL’s doors. 

Sheffield takes God, volunteering, and nature (that’s right) seriously. “I try very hard to stay centered in my faith, so when things get bad, I have something much stronger than me to lean on,” she says. As for nature, Sheffield is an avid hawk fan. “Most folks that know me know I am a freak for nature and get the biggest joy out of seeing a hawk; they represent freedom and God to me,” she says.

Lori SmithLori Smith, Project Manager
Purchasing Department, SAIC-Frederick

A 14-year veteran of SAIC-Frederick, Lori Smith is an integrated member of the community. Working in the Purchasing Department of the Contracts and Acquisitions Directorate, she is involved in new measures to make the Purchasing Department more streamlined and efficient. Smith says, “...I embrace the changes. It’s an exciting time for the facility.”

Smith is excited to be an employee of an organization that helps find treatments for cancer and AIDS. She is involved in several volunteer activities, including Take Your Child to Work Day and the Elementary Outreach Program. She loves to see young kids excited about science and finds it rewarding to give back to the community.

Smith enjoys flowers, the beach, and baseball. She says a chain, a scale, and the sky help define her. “The chain represents all of the different links of me. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and full-time employee. Everything just seems to come together like a chain,” she says. “The scale represents my work balance, right/wrong, justified, not one-sided. And my beliefs are the sky—endless and open.”

Debbie SwingDebbie Swing, Staff Scientist/Transgenic Core Facility Head
Mouse Cancer Genetics Program, Center for Cancer Research, NCI

With 28 years at the Mouse Cancer Genetics Program, Debbie Swing has been through it all—working hard every day to further the mission of NCI. An expert in microinjecting, she is responsible for generating transgenic mice via pronuclear DNA microinjection for use in various projects. 

Swing talks about the positive aspects of working in the Mouse Cancer Genetics Program. “I love working for the MCGP – the science, the brilliant scientists like Neal Copeland and Nancy Jenkins, who I worked with for 23 years, as well as meeting other scientists from around the world.” 

She also loves working with the staff of the 539-1CB animal facility, whom she describes as being “like family” to her.  As the only staff scientist who works in the animal facility, she enjoys participating in the group’s annual collections of food, clothing, and other supplies for those in need in Frederick County. The animal caretakers, she said, are “always opening their pocketbooks to help those less fortunate…I feel honored to work with them.” 

A microinjection scope, a rock, a camera, and a bird define Swing.  She says, “The microinjection scope because microinjecting and making transgenic mouse models are what I love most about my job. A rock represents my conviction and the firm stand I will take to fight for what I believe in. A camera for my love of photographing nature, and a bird for the joy of the wilderness and all its wildlife.”

Denise WhitbyDenise Whitby, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Viral Oncology Section
AIDS and Cancer Virus Program, SAIC-Frederick

An employee of SAIC-Frederick for more than 14 years, Denise Whitby, originally from the UK, leads the Viral Oncology Section in the AIDS and Cancer Virus Program. The lab’s primary focus is on Kaposi’s sarcoma–associated herpesvirus, with emphasis on combining large epidemiological studies with basic molecular virology and translational research. 

“I’m especially proud of our collaborative work with the MRC [Medical Research Council] HIV unit at the Uganda Virus Research Institute,” she says. “We’ve trained local researchers and transferred technology and skills to support our research on Kaposi’s sarcoma in a region where it is a major public health problem.”

Whiby’s lab loves to give back to the community and has hosted students through the Werner H. Kirsten Student Internship Program (SIP) for several years. “It is always a great pleasure to see how fast the students learn and how rewarding they find the time in the lab,” she says. 

Whitby says that a teapot, an elegant hat, a set of secateurs (pruning clippers), and an elephant are on the list of the top four objects that define her. She’s an avid Earl Grey tea fan, and she likes to keep her ears warm on her walk to work with a stylish lady’s hat. Her English cottage–style garden has wisteria that needs regular trimming with secateurs, and her collection of the world’s elephants adds a touch of exoticism to her décor. 

Nominate Someone You Know in 2014

If you know someone who you believe deserves to be honored as a Woman of NCI at Frederick, please nominate her in 2014. The call for nominations will come out in January 2014.