Gallery of Winners

Kimberly Curry

January 2017 Slide

When President Jay A. Perman, MD, entered his Saratoga conference room on Jan. 25, the dozen employees amassed there rose to their feet. “You’re not from around here are you?” Perman playfully said, urging the group to sit.

Actually they were from 1.4 miles away, the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) on Pratt Street, and some were a little confused, even concerned, as to why they were there.

“Priya [DasSarma] said she had a meeting with HR and asked me to join her since I do the HR work at IMET,” said research administrator Kimberly Curry, MBA. “Outside the conference room when I heard Dr. Perman was going to be there, I’m like, ‘Priya, WHAT did you do?’ And when we walked in and saw [10 colleagues from IMET] it was like ‘is this an intervention or something?’”

Perman turned Kim and Priya’s worried looks to smiles announcing that Curry had been named UMB’s January Employee of the Month.

“People wrote a lot of nice things about you in your nomination,” Perman told Curry, mentioning her knowledge about research grants, her service orientation, the fact she does things with a smile, and is a great team player.

“Frankly, another reason I’m happy you’re the Employee of the Month is that I’ve been doing this for seven years and this is the first time I’m quite sure that we have kept in mind that UMB is larger than the campus proper,” Perman said. “We have all these wonderful people who happen to be a mile or two away in this case as well as people in Montgomery County and elsewhere. So you’re also representing a group of great employees who aren’t on campus every day but who make UMB better.”

‘Wear Different Hats’

Curry, who admits she was “completely stunned” by the award and its $250 prize, has worked at UMB for nearly 16 years, starting out in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and moving to IMET in 2013.

Created by the University System of Maryland Board of Regents in July 2010, IMET is a collaborative effort between the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES).

Asked her duties, Curry says she “does everything required to manage a program. Payroll to pre-award grant submissions, post-award grant management, anything that’s required for the UMB faculty at IMET. I know a lot of the departments have four or five people. Here I’m it. So I wear a lot of different hats.”

“Here” is the Columbus Center near Pier VI on the Inner Harbor. With a huge sail across its atrium, long gleaming hallways, tanks of specially purified water with fish in the basement, great views of the harbor from the top floors, and test tubes and research galore, IMET is housed in quite a building.

“This is a gorgeous area to be in,” Curry said of the pros and cons of working in a satellite center. “You do lose some of that campus feel when you are down here. But everything else makes up for it. They’re doing such great things here with the ARC facility, the IMET incubator Harbor Launch, and also bringing in all these companies. It’s kind of like the BioPark. We also have the USM chancellor with us now.”

Years in Secret Service

Curry’s more modest office has its own accoutrements. Artwork and pictures of her three kids and an official sign above her desk that makes one take notice: “Kimberly M. Curry/U.S. Secret Service.”

“I did three years with the Secret Service before I joined UMB, right here at the Baltimore field office,” Curry said. It wasn’t the Secret Service depicted in Hollywood. “I sat in an office and typed up orders, process counterfeit bills and that sort of thing. I did get to meet Bill Clinton and Al Gore.”

Then Curry came to UMB and became a star in her own right.

In her nomination form, DasSarma, who is laboratory research supervisor at Columbus Center for her husband, Shiladitya DasSarma, PhD, a pioneering microbiologist celebrating 30 years running his lab in the School of Medicine, said: “Kim is a real gem for the faculty and staff at IMET. She always has a bright energy about her and carries through all tasks with gusto. She is positive, professional, and willing to make an extra call, take an extra step, or give an extra smile. In addition to many other things, including providing special care for foreign students and faculty, she understands the scientific process and its unique needs.”

‘Be the Best You Can Be’

Asked why she goes to such lengths, Curry modestly said it’s part of the job.

“You should always be the best you can be. I know that I would want someone to do that for me and you should always treat people the way you would want to be treated,” she said. “I think it just makes for a happier environment. I try to walk through all of my five labs at least once a week and I try to do it with a bubbly attitude and a smile and I feel that kind of rubs off.”

Sure enough, minutes later as she was leading a visitor on a tour, her IMET colleagues couldn’t have been nicer, explaining their research, pointing out where to get the best views of the harbor, and citing a large framed equation of the human genome.

“I work with fantastic people. IMET is a fun group,” said Curry, who added nothing brings her more joy than when “my faculty” are awarded a research grant or when excited students first arrive. “We exemplify collaboration, our UMB core value, down here at IMET. I work very closely with administration at UMBC and UMCES on a daily basis, as well as the microbiology and biochemistry groups on campus. But when you’ve been on campus as long as I have, and serve on so many committees, you have friends all over.”

— Chris Zang


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