June 19, 2017

Traylor creates positive environment in nephrology lab

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amie traylor streamFor nearly 15 years, Amie Traylor has had just one workplace: the lab of Anupam Agarwal, M.D., executive vice dean and director of the Division of Nephrology in UAB’s School of Medicine. She began as a research technician more than a decade ago, moving up the ranks to research assistant and lab supervisor before becoming lab manager.

In that role, Traylor wears many hats, from performing actual experiments and completing benchwork to more administrative duties such as coordinating with regulatory agencies and ordering items for the lab. No matter what her task is, Traylor’s co-workers said her work is exemplary.

“Amie is someone who clearly goes beyond what is required of her job,” said Agarwal, who also directs the UAB-UCSD O’Brien Core Center for Acute Kidney Injury Research, which collaborates  with his lab on various projects. “She is efficient and highly dependable.”

“If you ask for something, she will get it to you,” said Kelly Andringa, Ph.D., program manager for the O’Brien Center.

The lab has a consistent rotation of 12-14 research technicians, graduate students, postdocs and principal investigators, and Traylor treats each one with respect and kindness no matter how stressful the situation, colleagues said.

“She seeks to provide a collaborative environment, which lends to the growth of others personally and professionally,” said Patrick Molina, a student in the M.D./Ph.D. Medical Scientist Training Program.

“If you’re the captain of the ship, you want to be calm. How you approach a problem can set the tone for everyone else and can sometimes affect the outcome.” 

Traylor said that her experience growing in the Agarwal lab enables her to approach difficult situations from a different perspective. When she began, she was the youngest employee in the lab; now, as one of the older members, she knows that one person’s reactions or energy can influence everyone else in the lab.

“I’ve been with Dr. Agarwal since I started here,” Traylor said. “I’ve made my mistakes along the way, and I didn’t always the react the way I would have liked to, in hindsight. If someone comes to me and says, “this bad thing is happening,” I say, “OK, we can handle it. Let’s see what we can do to fix it.” If you’re the captain of the ship, you want to be calm. How you approach a problem can set the tone for everyone else and can sometimes affect the outcome.”

She said one situation in particular from her 15 years at UAB sticks out; a promising student was underperforming in the lab, and his co-workers were becoming frustrated. Traylor realized something else was going on under the surface: one of his parents had late-stage cancer, she said, and it was affecting his work performance.

Each month, UAB recognizes an outstanding employee for their dedication, hard work and contributions to the university’s success. If you know of a great employee, you can learn how to nominate them for this recognition at uab.edu/humanresources.

“I tried to be patient with him and understand where he was coming from,” Traylor said. “You don’t know what people are going through or what’s motivating them.”

The student later earned his master’s degree, graduated from the physician’s assistant program and now works in clinical oncology. He came back to visit the lab and talk with Traylor.

“He said thank you for being kind and helping him when he needed help,” Traylor said. 

 
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