Laurie Graham

Principal Lab Mechanician in Earth Sciences and Biology

Laurie Graham

Laurie Graham

The multitalented Laurie Graham is so many things wrapped up into one that her job title sounds like a made-up word. While some may boast about their keen sense of smell or impeccable hair, Graham — a machinist, technician and electrician — can confidently say she can build just about anything.

And for the past eight years, Graham has built countless things for UCR scientists and researchers. The principal lab mechanician (yes, that’s a word) works in the departments of earth sciences and biology to create or repair equipment for use in various labs.

On the day-to-day, she uses a large assortment of machines, mills and lathes. She works mainly with plastic because it is easy to clean. She creates lab equipment such as vials and beakers, repairs centrifuges and rocker tables, and even does maintenance on cage washers for the campus veterinarians. She has worked on atmospheric chambers, mass spectrometers and the fine-tuning of tubing and porting in metabolic chambers. She’s currently building a wind tunnel with sound-deafening capabilities for use in studying hummingbirds.

“This is my dream job because I get to work on different things all the time,” Graham said.

Graham got her start at UCR working in CE-CERT. A robust skill set enabled her to excel at creating high quality and precision equipment in nearly every area of scientific study. From her teens to her mid-20s, she worked as an aircraft mechanic, earning a degree from Chaffey College. In 1995, she earned a degree in electronics from DeVry University, which enabled her to work on robotics, medical and diagnostic equipment.

She can trace her love of machining to her father, who had a machine shop and taught her, at a young age, how to work with aircraft sheet metal and circuit boards.

“The great thing about my job is that there is always something new,” Graham said. “I can use all of my schooling to build something new every day.”

Another thing that makes Graham’s a “dream job” is the fact that her husband, Craig Graham works on campus in Pierce Hall as a principal electrical technician. The two are sometimes able to collaborate and work on projects together as a team. The two drive on their motorcycles, and Graham rides her Harley regularly.

Graham also has many students working under her and enjoys helping her students along.

“I try to keep up on research and instill safety in students to impress good life skills upon them.” — Konrad Nagy

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