Day in the Life: Science Stores


- Dorothy Eggenberger

The Science Stores team (L-R): Kara White, Ian Sandercock, Christine MacInnis Rowan, Stephanie Puckett and Rob Iuvale. UVic Photo Services

A supply-side success for science

It’s 9:30 a.m. when Sara Joulaei Zonouz enters the Bob Wright Centre, heading upstairs to the Loock Laser Lab. She’s a chemistry graduate student examining a new molecule developed by the Chernick Group. The Loock crew casually calls it “cheeto dust” because it resembles the orange film dust that Cheetos leave behind. Zonouz plans to test the molecule’s spectra matter in different solvents, starting with toluene and—oops, the lab is out of acetone!

It’s time for a visit to Science Stores.

Science Stores is an on-campus supply store serving UVic faculty and staff that stocks more than 1,000 items, including chemicals, equipment and stationery. The store also places and receives hundreds of special orders a month and handles shipping for Faculty of Science research partnerships. It’s an essential cog in the machine of science at the university. 

Supervisor Rob Iuvale has led the team of four storekeepers since March 2018 and has worked in Stores since 2003.

“I feel fortunate to be working at UVic in the Faculty of Science,” says Iuvale. “I’ve always appreciated science fiction, so growing up I figured I would have some kind of role in science or engineering or space.” 

His childhood daydreams weren’t too far off—Iuvale taught high school science for a few years before coming to UVic’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, eventually moving to Science Stores. “I'm delighted to contribute to science in some capacity,” he says.

It’s a sentiment shared by all members of the team, four of whom have a background in science.

Science Stores team
On average, the Science Stores team receives 50 boxes a day. Credit: UVic Photo Services

Chemistry alumna Kara White has been with Science Stores for 14 years. “I like knowing that I can help research. That’s why I’m here,” she says. White also taught high school science, and was a TA at UVic before joining the team. 

Fellow chemistry alumna Christine MacInnis joined the team a few years ago. She left Victoria to work in environmental testing labs—and was excited to find a reason to come back. “The community here is great: good energy, good people, everyone is really helpful and friendly,” says MacInnis Rowan, “and working in the Faculty of Science is a lot of fun.”

“I’m also an alumni and apparently I’m never leaving,” jokes Stephanie Puckett. After graduation, she stayed on campus for technician work in biochemistry and microbiology until joining Science Stores four years ago. 

“It’s kind of nice that we have different focuses,” says Puckett, “I’m always like ‘Kara—chemistry—I need help!’ We can draw on each other’s strengths.”

Last man standing Ian Sandercock worked for one of UVic’s science vendors before joining the team three years ago. He doesn’t have a BSc, but when nudged by Iuvale admits to touring with a rock band in Europe and across Canada. “That was a different life,” says Sandercock nonchalantly. 

“I like working here. It’s a beautiful campus. I like everybody I work with—so yeah, good place,” he says.

On average, the team of five receives 50 boxes a day. The contents vary, especially when new research projects are on the move—the most memorable being UVic’s partnership with Pani Energy to track COVID-19 in wastewater across BC.

“Scientists here jumped on that project,” remembers White. “We were getting coolers coming in two or three times a week.” 

Just a day in the life of the Science Stores team helping move things along. And yes, Zonouz got her acetone.


In this story

Keywords: Day in the Life, staff, administrative, alumni, research, chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology

People: Kara White, Ian Sandercock, Christine MacInnis Rowan, Stephanie Puckett, Rob Iuvale

Publication: The Ring

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