Melissa Jones ’91 has received the American Society for Microbiology‘s Schergao-Rubin Award for outstanding bench-level microbiology. This award recognizes someone who is involved in distinguished performance in diagnostic work. Jones received the award at the society’s 2019 meeting in San Francisco.
“My favorite part is being able to share my passion about microbiology and this profession,” Jones said. “I truly enjoy when technologists will come to me with a question and I’m able to turn that into a ‘teachable moment’ by helping them realize how much they know. […] Taking these sorts of experiences of day-to-day life in the micro lab and sharing them at regional or national meetings where they can benefit other bench level microbiologists has also been very fulfilling.”
Jones received a bachelor’s degree in medical technology and has worked at UNC Health Care for nearly 30 years, where she is a microbiology technical specialist. In her role, Jones is a reference person for technical needs of the staff. Jones said her work includes Gram stain reporting, developing algorithms for isolate workup, and complicated specimen processing triage. She also provides leadership and mentoring to all levels of technologists and acts as a liaison between the laboratory and various health care teams within UNC Hospitals. Lastly, she is responsible for creating and maintaining laboratory procedures, evaluating new microbiology media/tests for potential utilization and performing verification studies and ultimately implementing instrumentation.
Jones said she is grateful for support from leadership at her lab, who has encouraged her to become a leader and share her knowledge with others. She said the clinical laboratory science program rewards its students by affording them flexibility in career-decisions, such as working in a hospital, industry, or other setting.
“Your degree will be recognized,” Jones said. “It will take you as far as you wish to go.”