Kudos: Mike Uchneat Makes Working Space Work

Mike Uchneat

Congratulations to Mike Uchneat, recipient of this month’s Huck Kudos award. As Huck’s director of facilities, Mike is the primary point of contact on all our facility-related issues. These run across six buildings that house state-of-the-art laboratories, instrumentation, and shared spaces used to generate high-impact collaborative research and training.  

It’s a big job. Oversight and coordination of Huck facility issues encompasses renovation, space planning, equipment inventory and maintenance, and safety. Managing all these elements requires a cool head, a diplomatic attitude and a knack for adaptation to ever-shifting priorities. 

Embracing the overall mission is critical to pulling it all off. 

“What makes Mike an asset to the Huck is that he understands and is genuinely interested in the research and does not hesitate to advocate on behalf of the faculty in order to develop an optimal solution for all involved,” says his supervisor Kim Ripka.

“Even more impressive are the proactive approaches that Mike brings to the position, whether it pertains to improving overall and continuous safety training within the Huck or developing an equipment replacement inventory for the next 10 years.” 

Mike joined the Huck in June 2017, bringing more than 20 years of experience as general manager and product development lead for plant science research stations. Additionally, he co-owned GardenGenetics, LLC, a startup where his deep entrepreneurial streak led Mike to develop multiple uniquely colored ornamental breeds, for which he holds 50 Plant Patents.

Mike received his Ph.D. from Penn State University in Genetics. He has a B.S. in Horticulture from Penn State and M.S. degrees in Horticultural Science from North Carolina State University (but we won't hold that against him). A published scientist in his own right, he has presented at national and international plant breeding conferences, and has traveled professionally to Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, Japan, and The Netherlands.

The ultimate “people person,” Mike has a reputation among colleagues for being “warm, kind, fair, thoughtful and caring.” These are important traits for a job that requires a topic as contentious as work space, which is always in high demand. 

Anonymous kudos sent on his behalf this month include the following:

“Kudos to Mike Uchneat for awesome job in working the complexities of the MSC 2nd floor seating arrangements.”

“Kudos to Mike Uchneat for always maintaining such a positive and supportive attitude. Space and equipment issues at the Huck are nearly always fraught with unforeseen complications, ranging from the logistical to the financial to the emotional. Somehow Mike always manages to deal with these in a calm, friendly, effective way. Thanks Mike!”

“Another Kudos for Mike for getting me a comprehensive equipment replacement plan within minutes of me asking for it. WAY faster than I can keep up with!”

Ripka sums it up best.

“Mike is a tremendous asset and leader within the Huck and very deserving of this Kudos award.”

The Huck Kudos program is designed to recognize these kinds of outstanding staff efforts, awarding the recipients with an extra day off work. Each month, kudos are collected from anyone in the Huck who wants to recognize a staff member going above and beyond the call of duty. To send in your kudos for someone’s job well done, email your positive comments to Laura Drew:

Laura Drew

Facilities Administrative Assistant