David Downing, Facilities Coordinator, Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research (WIMR)

This Staff Spotlight is part of a series dedicated to those employees who continue to shine as we navigate through the challenging times of the pandemic. As much of the world was shut down, SMPH staff shifted gears to adapt to the many barriers that prevented business as usual. The featured employees were nominated by their colleagues because they exemplified the Building Community Shared Values of SMPH throughout this hectic time. We will share a different profile every other week through the end of the year.

David Downing is a Facilities Coordinator at the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research (WIMR).

Photo of David Downing holding a huge fish he caught in Alaska, while wearing a Packers beanieWhat is your role?
My current Position is Facilities Coordinator at the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research (WIMR). Many refer to me as the building manager.

When did you start working in SMPH? At UW?
I started working for SMPH in November 2016 and the University of Wisconsin–Madison in September 2009.

What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me involves making sure the loading dock is cleared and ready for business that day. We receive several trucks each day that are expected and several that are unexpected. I work with the student staff to make sure the packages we receive are delivered and mail is sorted. We also have the daily building issues, like leaks that occur that need to be taken care of by the physical plant. The softener salt needs to watched, filled, and reordered, which is more of a weekly occurrence to make sure the RO/DI (Reverse Osmosis/Deionized) water is taken care of at all times. I also work with the building occupants every day to keep the building working so we can do our research in a safe manner. I work closely with many people from FPM, like the physical plant staff and Environment Health and Safety personnel. Since my building is connected to the UW Hospital, I will also interact with their staff on issues that occur between buildings.

What is your workplace superpower?
I like to think my workplace super power is my ability to be organized. I like to think it is one of my best assets that I bring to any position. In all honesty, my workplace superpower is that I know who to contact when we have an issue in WIMR that needs outside help.

What is something personal you keep on your desk?
I have a picture of Bart Starr on my desk to remind me to be a good person. 

Where are you from originally?
Originally I am from Wisconsin. My family on both sides has been here since before the civil war.

What is your favorite place to spend time in the world?
My favorite thing to do in the world is to travel.  This summer I took quick driving tours of several large national parks in Montana and Wyoming, and then I took a slow fishing trip a couple of months later to fish in Alaska. I like to travel and see new things. I also like to throw in some golf; sometimes it is included in my traveling vacations.

What are you reading right now?
My recent book was a Game of Thrones book about the history of Westros. It was enjoyed while waiting for the tide to rise and the fish to arrive in Alaska.

Share one fact about yourself that your co-workers might not be aware of.
I try to bike to work every day. I need the exercise.

From the nominators:

Jess Hisel
David Downing has been reporting to work every day since the start of the pandemic. He has persevered through the numerous challenges and changes that have occurred in the past year and a half. For the time when students were not allowed on campus, he performed all of those duties — including delivering mail and packages for all of WIMR — in addition to his own job. He has excelled in every way, keeping research and other essential personnel safe and functioning through these tribulations. Dave is probably one of the best assets to this university that I have met and had the honor to manage. A true Badger!

– Q&A condensed and edited by Laurie Silverberg, PhD