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2nd annual Salk Service Awards ceremony honors staff

A group of staff honorees who achieved 25, 30 and 40 years of employment at the Institute celebrate with Geoff Wahl and President Bill Brody at the 2nd Annual Salk Service Awards. Geoff Wahl, Karen Suter, Candy Haggblom, Beth Coyne, Amy Blount, Maureen Macias-Ballas, Bill Brody (left to right, front), Cynthia Kosty, Bob Lizarraga, Kim Witmer (left to right, back)

Thirty-nine staff members who had attained between ten and 45 years of employment at Salk were acknowledged in May at the 2nd annual Salk Service Awards. At a special luncheon and ceremony, Salk president William R. Brody, Academic Council chair Geoff Wahl, faculty and colleagues paid tribute to the employees’ long-term contributions to the Institute.

Brody noted that the group represented more than 640 combined years of service, which was a testament to their commitment to the Institute. “The success of the Salk is due to the longevity and dedication of the workforce,” he said. “It’s what keeps us at the forefront of scientific excellence. The people at Salk are simply terrific.” Wahl noted that although faculty gatherings usually produce many different opinions, there is one exception. “The one opinion we all share is that the staff here is the best in the world, and teamwork makes all that possible,” he said. “I want to congratulate you for being an immensely proud and productive team that works to create synergy so we can all work together to produce the best science in the world.”

After the recipients were called to the podium to accept certificates of appreciation and pose for photos with Brody and Wahl, two special rocking chairs were placed on the stage as “seats of honor” for the employees who had reached the milestone of 40 years of service with the Institute: Candy Haggblom and Bob Lizarraga.

Haggblom started her career in the tumor virology laboratory of Marguerite Vogt, where she spent the next three decades assisting Salk's “longest-working scientist” and continued to provide support when it morphed into the Molecular Biology and Virology Lab. She currently works with Jan Karlseder, a professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory, where, Karlseder said, her contributions have facilitated the lab’s high-level science and helped him advance to full professor.

Lizzaraga, who started out as a drafter in Facilities Services and retired in 2010 as project manager, said working at the Institute had been the best experience of his life. (To read more about his time at the Salk, see

Brody capped the event with a musical performance, playing the piano and singing “The Elements,” a comical recitation of the periodic table.