By Teri West
Between conferences, workshops and field research, you could conceivably find one of ESSIC’s 160 scientists in any corner of the world on a given day. Cathy Holm has been making sure those adventures run smoothly for nearly six years.
Holm, a travel and procurement specialist with the ESSIC Business Office (EBO) manages researchers’ trips, which can often require specialized equipment and medical clearances given how remote and rugged the destinations can be. However, trip departures are only one side of the process. Holm is often on-call for last-minute changes to schedules and itineraries to help ensure that ESSIC researchers return safely home from their travels.
“[One researcher in 2015] was delayed because the ship that goes from Antarctica to New Zealand was behind, so there’ve been a couple of times that I’ve had to work outside of business hours to work with the travel agency to make sure that they could get their flight back,” Holm said.
Research staff at ESSIC are grateful for Holm’s support throughout the process, from pre-travel approval to post-travel reimbursements.
“She was a tremendous help in getting me home from Antarctica,” ESSIC associate research scientist Kelly Brunt wrote about a recent trip. “My travel plans changed, allowing me to get home faster than originally planned. She worked with Travel-On to get my tickets updated, while I was unreachable via either phone or email. It was so nice to finally open my email to see that Cathy had taken care of EVERYTHING while I was out of contact.”
Every December and January, Holm helps ESSIC staff members travel to the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society annual meetings. This year, she supported 68 of the 118 travelers.
Beyond her daily administrative tasks, Holm is currently spearheading an effort to get ESSIC certified as a Green Office. She is also a visible and enthusiastic presence each spring as a volunteer at ESSIC’s Maryland Day exhibit, and she volunteers with the ESSIC trail clean-up.
Holm’s overall connection to the UMD community is extensive. In total, she has spent nearly 13 years at UMD supporting various campus administrative missions; she is also a university alumna.
Outside of the office, Holm likes to challenge herself with active adventures.
In 2012, she did a triathlon in Delaware. Last summer, she traveled alone out west and walked about 70 miles over the course of nine days, participating in walks organized by the American Volkssport Association. She did a triathalon there as well.
“I like to have an active vacation because it’s in contrast to what I do every day here,” she said. “It’s not just the vacation, it’s being physically active. Get the blood pumping, get out in fresh air. There were mountain streams, there were elk, there were reindeer, bison – all kinds of wildlife that I’d never seen before.”