Best & Brightests  
 



UW AWARDS 2008 HOMEPAGE

UWEEK.ORG HOMEPAGE

DISTINGUISHED TEACHING AWARD
Ben Kerr, Biology
Gowri Shankar, Business Administration
Jaime Olavarria, Psychology
Jamie Walker, Ceramics
Julia Parrish, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences / Biology
Rebecca Aanerud, Women Studies
Richard Knuth, Education Administration

EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING AWARD
Fernanda Oyarzun & Chris Himes , Biology
Rachel Goldberg, English

DISTINGUISHED LIBRARIAN AWARD
Theresa Mudrock, UW Libraries

DISTINGUISHED STAFF AWARD
Hendrik Simons, Nuclear Physics Laboratory
Mona Pitre-Collins, Undergraduate Scholarship Office
Philip Mote, Climate Impacts Group
Robin Bennett, Medical Genetics
Sue Park, Facilities Services

DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTIONS TO LIFELONG LEARNING AWARD
John Schaufelberger, Construction Management

OUTSTANDING PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD
Nancy Amidei, Social Work

JAMES D. CLOWES AWARD FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING COMMUNITIES
Lance Bennett, Political Science / Communication

S. STERLING MUNRO PUBLIC SERVICE TEACHING AWARD
Denise Wilson, Electrical Engineering

DAVID B. THORUD LEADERSHIP AWARD
Judy Mahoney, College of Engineering
Kathleen Woodward, Simpson Center for the Humanities

MARSHA L. LANDOLT DISTINGUISHED GRADUATE MENTOR AWARD
Tom Quinn, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

ALUMNUS SUMMA LAUDE DIGNATA
Beverly Cleary, Children's Author

ALUMNI ASSOCIATION DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD
Robb Weller, Television Producer and Host

PRESIDENT'S MEDAL
June Shujun Peng and Royce Anderson

"Many things are challenging because research is pushing boundaries, and so making the equipment needed to reach those goals is also pushing boundaries."


Hendrik Simons


As the instrument maker supervisor for the Center for Experimental Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics, Hendrik Simons is challenged to devise many unusual but exacting devices and parts. Often the challenge is too great for commercial fabricators, yet Simons has found a way to manufacture just the right part or tool needed for an important experiment.

"Many things are challenging because research is pushing boundaries, and so making the equipment needed to reach those goals is also pushing boundaries," said Simons, who came to the UW in 1979 after six years fabricating medical equipment at Southern California's City of Hope medical center. His success here has earned for him a UW Distinguished Staff Award.

"Hank is our 'secret weapon' -- his extraordinary technical craftsmanship, his management ability and his unusual skill in helping faculty and students design specialized instruments are key to the success of our center," said a nominating letter written by physics faculty members Eric Adelberger, Derek Storm and John F. Wilkerson.

"When people come to Hank with poorly conceived ideas, he works patiently and constructively with them to solve their problems. Hank works closely with graduate students, most of whom are just being exposed to the process of design and construction of specialized experimental equipment," the faculty wrote.

Indeed, graduate student Anne Salaska wrote that without Simons' work she would not be able to complete the experiment that will lead to her doctoral degree.

"His smile warms you up on our rainy days, and his charming manner comforts you in an otherwise daunting and foreboding machine shop," she wrote. "Even as a lowly, unmechanical graduate student, Hank listens to your needs very respectfully before artfully suggesting solutions and improvements that never would have arisen without him."

Simons became interested in mechanical devices at a very young age, received apprenticeship training at the University of Amsterdam in his native Holland and later received certification as an instrument maker in a well-respected Dutch physics laboratory.

"The best Christmas present I got as a little boy was an old-fashioned alarm clock from my aunt," he recalled. "It didn't work, and I took it apart and put it back together again many times. It was a fascinating thing to me."

Stephan Schlamminger, a research assistant professor of physics, wrote that of the machine shop foremen he has worked with worldwide "Simons is not simply the best, he is in a league of his own."

"Every part that leaves his shop has been built to the highest standards. Although all his work is beautiful, on a number of occasions his skills shine," Schlamminger wrote. "Recently an apparatus required the precise alignment of two miniature sapphire jewel bearings. Mr. Simons' innovative setup to position these bearings precisely in a piece of brass was instrumental to the success of the apparatus."

Simons' work includes making parts requiring tremendous precision for much-heralded gravity research by UW physicists, as well as fabricating parts for a cyclotron that the UW Medical Center uses for cancer treatment.

His shop contains some of the latest tools, as well as World War II-vintage equipment that he keeps in good repair and that still works well. He reads several trade journals to keep up on the latest advances, but being successful, he said, isn't a matter of being hip to the latest designs and techniques as much as it is figuring out which are appropriate for a particular problem.

"You don't need the latest tools, necessarily, to do the best work, but you do have to have quality equipment, regardless of its age," he said.

Simons has had a front-row seat for many different projects at the forefront of physics research. Each has its own complexities, and he counts himself fortunate to be a part of it.

"The instrument shop and the laboratory that it supports has been a fascinating and rewarding place to work," he said.