Sherwood Wins Cornell President's Award for Employee Excellence
Bob Sherwood, a research support specialist with the BRC Proteomics and Metabolomics facility, was recognized with the Cornell President's Award for Employee Excellence in the "Mission-Possible" category. The Mission-Possible Award recognizes an employee whose work demonstrates excellence in supporting the university’s core mission of learning, discovery, and engagement, and who exemplifies going above and beyond to complete a mission.
Just a week after Cornell abruptly shut down on-site operations other than essential services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Stanford University approached the BRC Proteomics and Metabolomics Facility with a critical project studying the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Researchers from Stanford Medical School urgently needed to know if the facility could analyze COVID-19 samples freshly collected on the west coast with the data being used to understand who is susceptible to the disease, whether and how antibodies may link to disease pathogenesis, and prognosis and treatment assessment of the disease. Despite facing remarkable challenges with the technical difficulties of expedited method development and a short turnaround time for results, Bob was eager to accept this demanding opportunity in the race to understand the virus wreaking havoc on the world. Bob worked tirelessly on the project and contributed greatly to the timely discovery of antibody biomarkers and mechanisms in determining severity of COVID-19 disease, resulting in a credit on an excellent scientific paper published in the journal Nature Immunology. Through continued analysis of thousands of COVID-19 samples in retrospective studies for two top immunology research groups, Bob’s work also contributed significantly to the mechanistic understanding of lung inflammation in COVID-19 and prediction of different COVID-19 disease trajectories that could provide an opportunity for early medical interventions to reduce mortality in this disease. In addition, his analysis of antibodies for two doses of mRNA vaccination samples demonstrated huge differences from those in severe COVID-19 cases, with significantly better anti-inflammation protection.
For these projects, Bob creatively developed and implemented new analytical workflows and delivered incredibly valuable results of which Cornell can be proud of the learning and scientific discovery yielded. He exemplified Cornell's core values with “purposeful discovery” to advance the University’s mission of learning and dissemination of findings on COVID-19, as well as “changing lives through public engagement” by effective and productive collaboration with the greater research community for the benefit of society. Bob has always been an enthusiastic scientist and deeply valued colleague of unparalleled reliability and work ethic, but his work on these COVID-19 projects has been of great significance to the world at large and further established Cornell and the facility as a premier research service provider.