Gretchen Ehrenkaufer, Employee of the Month, February 2015

Division of Infectious Diseases

Gretchen Ehrenkaufer first joined the Department of Medicine in 2005 as a postdoctoral student, and later transitioned to her current role as research associate in 2011. Her colleagues describe her as a role model and an incredible asset for the Division of Infectious Diseases. “Gretchen has easily become the go-to person for my lab, and many labs in the Division,” writes nominator Upi Singh, MD, an associate professor of medicine (infectious diseases). “As a research associate, her work is often behind the scenes and not as public as other roles, but without hesitation I can say that my program could not function without her. Gretchen’s contributions positively impact all the researchers and colleagues on the first floor of the Grant building.” Ehrenkaufer is also known for her impressive work ethic. As Singh explains: “Since joining my lab she has been an author on 14 publications—outstanding productivity by any standard! Gretchen has an amazing work ethic—she’s often first to get to the lab and among the last to leave.”

As a research associate for the Singh Lab, Ehrenkaufer looks at gene expression and other changes that occur during the development of the parasite Entameoba histolytica.  In addition to her research duties, she assists with lab management, handling equipment repairs and supervising building renovations to ensure minimal disruption. However, colleagues say that her most valued skill is her willingness to help others. “Gretchen has a phenomenal sense of community and is the best lab citizen I could hope for,” Singh writes. “She is always willing to help others and I often hear the younger graduate students going to her for input and advice. Gretchen always provides thoughtful and insightful comments and is a wonderful resource for my lab.”

Ehrenkaufer says she loves how challenging her work is. “I came to the lab with no background in bioinformatics,” she recalls, “and I was able to develop those skills along with others throughout the course of my work.” She also appreciates her colleagues “ both in the lab, and in the Department.”