Steering BIO5 Lab on Weekdays and a Harley on WeekendsPosted on: October 10, 2012
Tucked away in the basement of the BIO5 Institute at the Thomas W. Keating Bioresearch Building, Dena Yoder, Manager of the BIO5 Media Facility, can be found energetically creating and preparing growth formulations to aid University of Arizona scientists in their research labs. Yoder has more than 20 years of experience in microbiology, molecular biology, and cell culture support services. She has turned her passion for research and education into a business depended on by 140 or so labs across the UA campus.
Yoder came to Tucson after spending 16 years in the Microbiology Prep Lab at California State Chico. “My favorite thing about the University is that it’s a very progressive place to work”, she says. “I particularly love the vision of BIO5 to promote and support collaborations between researchers.” The BIO5 Media Facility offers researchers all over campus the ability to order standard or custom formulations that are mixed for them in advance of their experiments, saving them valuable time in the lab.
When she’s not wearing her white lab coat, she’s sporting a white leather jacket on her Harley Sportster 883. “I am passionate about motorcycling,” Yoder says. “It is challenging, exhilarating, and a great way to explore Arizona.” She is also an avid bicyclist, hiker, and hill runner. “I am up at 4:30 every Saturday morning, and from then on through the rest of the weekend, I’m outdoors.”
Her adventerous nature carries over into the workplace. She has enthusiastically spearheaded efforts to keep and grow the Media Facility in BIO5. And while most facility managers might hire lab technicians to carry out the day-to-day work, Yoder chooses to utilize the talents of UA students. “I hire students who are a good fit for the lab and are detail oriented and customer focused.” Yoder says. “I enjoy teaching and interacting with them and hope the skills they learn here will help them in their future places of employment, including other UA labs.”
Her passion for educating the next generation of scientists is also evident in that Yoder provides media materials for students in various colleges around campus for their research projects, as well as offers UA pricing to many K-12 educators throughout the Southern Arizona community.
According to Lisa Romero, Director of Marketing and Communications for BIO5, “Dena not only knows her science, but she is committed to education and outreach in our community. She is always open to learning more about what researchers need, and equally willing to share her knowledge with others. Dena always wears a smile and has a positive, can-do attitude. She is a huge asset to researchers here at BIO5, as well as many other labs throughout campus.”
In the spirit of forward-thinking and flexibility, Yoder recently led a successful effort to have the BIO5 Media Facility added as the first UA entity to have a punch-out catalog on the Arizona BuyWays website. “Many researchers and business units on campus will only order materials through Arizona BuyWays. By having a punch-out catalog, they can order directly from us, just as they would with any other large scientific vendors,” says Yoder. “We wanted to make it as easy and quick as possible for researchers to obtain microbiological media and buffers, plant tissue culture media, custom mammalian cell culture media, insect culture media, drosophila media and other custom preparations. Additionally, we deliver all our products directly to the department or laboratory so researchers can continue their work uninterrupted.”
When asked what she hopes to accomplish with the BIO5 Media Facility in the future, Yoder replies, “We have a big challenge in that we must balance the requirements of our self-sustaining business model with our commitment to maintain the exceptional quality of our products. We are a GLP (Good Laboratory Practices) facility, and in that regard, we consistently strive for the highest possible product quality at an excellent value. We also hope to grow the number of UA labs we service.”
Whether on the road or in the lab, with Yoder at the helm you can count on a ride delivered with drive, passion and dedication.