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February 2021

Meet Natasha Boddie: Staff Senator and Administrative Specialist, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM)

Natasha Boddie, Administrative Specialist, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM)

Roles: Like many at Mason, my duties often go beyond my job title working at CAPMM. I ensure smooth daily operations for the center. Applying for the position of administrative assistant for CAPMM has aided in my continued professional development. The position has allowed me to capitalize on my current strengths and abilities as an administrator while learning the ways of the medical field in terms of cancer research through interfacing with patients, graduate students and through collaborations within Mason, the community and internationally. It presents me with challenges outside of my comfort zone, all of which I gladly welcome.

Mason journey: I started my Mason journey as a graduate student in 2006. My professional journey started in 2011, a few months after losing my own mother to cancer, when I started in a part-time role as a production coordinator at the Center for the Arts. Over the last 10 years I have held various positions within the university, all of which have been a unique experience contributing to my journey.

COVID-19 transition: During the early stages of the pandemic, my role consisted of assisting in transitioning my bosses to online learning via Blackboard and WebEx. Essentially playing ITS on TV. Summer was also a time of adaptation for CAPMM. My team redirected their cancer research to COVID antibody testing through saliva tests last spring, a study which would lead to the development of a saliva COVID test which would later be received by the FDA for an Emergency Use Authorization.

The saliva test would track both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. Over the last six months, I have been heavily involved in the hiring process in support of President Washington’s campus-wide surveillance testing as well as scheduling patients to participate in the antibody study on the SciTech campus. A co-worker described my role in the hiring process as “the eye of a hurricane.” It felt like just that.

COVID team effort: All tests are currently run in our CAP (College of American Pathologists)/CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) labs. The CAPMM team is working around the clock to provide accurate results to roughly 1,000-2,000 tests/day estimating about 5,000-10,000/week for the Safe Return to Campus initiative. Go team go! Our goal is to reduce the turnaround time to two days or less.

Science will continue to prevail moving us back to a norm. When this does happen, my team will be at the front lines to continue to write their own Mason history. Vaccine antibody studies are on the horizon. As the team answers the question, “Did the vaccine work for me?” you better believe I will be there, too. Stay tuned.

Best thing about working at Mason: I don’t believe there is one right answer. Flexibility. Diversity. Community. Those are a few words that come to mind. In my current season of life, the best thing might be working in an environment with such a talented group of individuals who consider you as an equal to the team, a bunch of doctors (scientists) who prefer a first-name basis, and bosses who are charismatic and family-oriented. I could go on and on.

I can’t forget those within the College of Science who have provided me with tremendous guidance and support throughout my professional experience at CAPMM. These are the people who create a sense of community on the professional level. For that, I thank every one of them and all those I have crossed paths with at Mason.

Why I serve on Staff Senate: To provide a voice for those who aren’t as vocal as I am when confronted with challenges classified staff experience. Believe me when I say, “been there, experienced that.” Throughout my life I have always been that person to fight for the little guy. I am truly appreciative to have been nominated to serve on Staff Senate to advocate for classified staff. I look forward to continuing to serve in this role.

At the end of the day: I am a full-time working mother of two, wife, entrepreneur, certified personal trainer (Total Boddie Fitness) and weight management specialist. Helping others is what I enjoy doing, although your strengths can also be your weakness. Sometimes I forget to take care of me which is equally as important. However, I couldn’t successfully wear all these hats if it weren’t for the flexibility that Mason has to offer.