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Stanford honors Todd Eberspacher with the 2018 Marsh O'Neill Award

Todd Eberspacher

Todd Eberspacher

Nov 15 2018

Posted In:

Announcements, Awards, Staff

Todd Eberspacher, manager of facilities, environmental health and safety, and infrastructure information technology in the Chemistry Department, will receive the 2018 Marsh O’Neill Award during a Nov. 26 reception at the Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center.

In a neighborhood located just west of The Oval – home of Mudd Chemistry, Keck Science, Stauffer I, Stauffer II, Lokey Labs, and the Sapp Center for Teaching & Learning – one person is considered a “go-to expert” by scientists.

Todd Eberspacher

Left: Todd Eberspacher is this year’s winner of the Marsh O’Neill Award for Exceptional and Enduring Support of Stanford’s Research Enterprise. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

“Whether it is renovating a laboratory, building a new vacuum system, installing a complex piece of commercial laboratory equipment, troubleshooting a failing instrument, designing laboratory safety procedures, understanding how to work effectively within the complex fire codes or responding to an emergency, Todd Eberspacher is our go-to expert,” said Chris Chidsey, an associate professor of chemistry.

“His passion for laboratory work and his striving for excellence in all its aspects is both a huge enabler of our work and an inspiration to find and deploy the best experimental tools and resources.”

That was one of many accolades bestowed by Stanford faculty on Eberspacher, winner of the 2018 Marsh O’Neill Award for Exceptional and Enduring Support of Stanford University’s Research Enterprise. Kathryn A. Moler, vice provost and dean of research, will present the award to Eberspacher during a 4-6 p.m. reception today in the Mackenzie Room of the Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center. No invitation is required. Please email Darlene Goodart at dgoodart@stanford.edu if you plan to attend.

Eberspacher, who joined the Stanford community nearly 25 years ago, is the manager of facilities, environmental health and safety, and infrastructure information technology in the Chemistry Department in the School of Humanities & Sciences.

The Marsh O’Neill Award is an opportunity for faculty to acknowledge publicly the outstanding staff members who support their research activity. Stanford established the award in honor of Marshall D. O’Neill, who worked at the university from 1952 to 1990, when he retired as associate director of the W.W. Hansen Laboratories. O’Neill was the first recipient of the award.

Joined Stanford as a postdoc

Eberspacher, who grew up in Nebraska, earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

He joined the Stanford community as a postdoctoral scholar in chemistry in 1994 in the lab of James Collman, the George A. and Hilda M. Daubert Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus.

Four years later, he became manager of the lab. In 2000, he joined the Chemistry Department as facilities coordinator (a part-time position) and began working on the project to build a new research facility for the chemistry and biology departments – the Lokey Labs Building. Within a few years, the post became a full-time job.

Eberspacher said he was stunned to learn he had won the Marsh O’Neill Award.

“Wow – that was my first reaction,”  he said. “I think I said it over and over. I know quite a few people that have received the award and it is an honor to be among them.

Faculty sing praises of Eberspacher

In letters nominating Eberspacher for the award, faculty members said he knows more about its facilities than anyone on campus – and how to keep them running.

“Todd is a superb go-to person with any problem or issue, and he will either solve it himself or know whom to contact,” said W.E. Moerner, the Harry S. Mosher Professor of Chemistry.

“He responds within minutes to floods, fires, thefts, HVAC problems, electrical problems, computer/network failures, inventory issues, safety and inspection issues, and he does this for all our faculty, students and staff spread across multiple buildings. The level of excellence he brings to these responsibilities is quite exceptional.”

Steven G. Boxer, the Camille Dreyfus Professor of Chemistry, said in addition to the Lokey Lab construction, Eberspacher has overseen a series of major renovations in the last 20 years.

“All chemistry buildings involve complex infrastructure needed for safe operation, stringent environmental conditions, multiple layers of county code requirements, and the demanding requirements of individual faculty and their students,” Boxer said.

“Outside the hospitals, this is the most sophisticated and expensive space on campus. While Stanford Land, Buildings & Real Estate provides project managers, Todd is the person on the ground with the background to guarantee that things get done correctly.”

According to Robert M. Waymouth, the Robert Eckles Swain Professor of Chemistry, the department’s safety program is a model for the university, thanks to Eberspacher’s tireless efforts over the past 20 years.

“Todd is, without question, the most important staff member in our department,” he said.

“Others could come and go (and have), but if we lose Todd, it would be sand in the machine. Research and education would go on, but with much grinding and gnashing of teeth. His is the one cell phone number no graduate student or postdoc leaves off their cell phone. He solves almost all problems and does so many things behind the scenes that many problems never arise.”

Chaitan Khosla, a professor of chemistry and of chemical engineering, said Eberspacher’s encyclopedic knowledge of chemical science and university operating procedures complements his “amazing ability” to get just about anything done – big or small.

“His dedication and work ethic are comparable to that of the most hardworking faculty members at Stanford,” Khosla said. “Equally important is his depth of concern for the well-being of each new faculty member who joins the department.”