Who's Who in HQ is an ongoing series that serves to highlight familiar faces in Chemistry Headquarters.
Shannon Wagner is a recent addition to Chemistry Headquarters. As the legend goes, 3.5 years ago, Shannon awoke in a cold sweat one night and spontaneously shouted, “I need to help scientists with basic administrative tasks!” Today, as Senior Administrative Assistant, her role is a mix of high-level support for Department Head Troy Van Voorhis and Administrative Officer Rich Wilk. In this edition of Who’s Who in HQ, Shannon shares the museum she’d build if she acquired five million dollars to do so, the most interesting piece of art she’s seen, the image that would be on her personal flag, and more.
- What are you interested in that many people haven’t heard of?
“Being in the moment.”
- What is the most heartwarming thing you’ve ever seen?
An animal doing anything.
- Who is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party?
Someone to watch my baby while I eat and take a nap.
- What book has impacted you the most?
Advances in Physical Organic Chemistry vol. 39
- What is the farthest you’ve ever been from home?
- Which two celebrities would you choose to be your parents?
David Sedaris and he would be a single dad trying his hardest.
- If all jobs had the same pay and hours, what job would you like to have?
If it’s good pay and good hours, a copyeditor. If it’s bad pay and bad hours, the person who runs the car crushing machine at a scrap yard.
- What is the most interesting/memorable piece of art you’ve ever seen?
A square cake covered in blue fondant that was left on the sidewalk on Ames St. for over a week last year or the year before. It was undecorated except for a figure doing karate on one side. It wasn’t on a platter or anything, and it looked like something someone would make in a cake decorating class. Everyday I’d walk by and see how it changed—it got rained on and someone also stepped on it, which I imagine was very satisfying to do. It was there for so long that I actually started looking forward to seeing it on my way into work, but one day it was gone and left behind a square stain on the sidewalk, which is also now gone. But I still think about it when I walk by that spot.
- What was the last TV show you binge watched?
Peaky Blinders on Netflix got me through the doldrums of my late maternity leave.
- What song or artist do you like but rarely admit to liking?
I have nothing to hide.
- What personality trait do you value most, and which do you dislike the most?
I really admire the ability to retain and understand information. I’m not being facetious. My brain is the least absorbent kind of sponge (brick). I most dislike ignorance.
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Gently curve your floss around the base of each tooth and under the gumline.”
- If you had a personal flag, what would be on it?
A raccoon in a trashcan and in Latin it says, “Just happy to be here.”
- What is something that is considered a luxury, but you don’t think you could live without?
My Rolls-Royce Motor Car.
- Who are three of your favorite fictional characters?
Huck Finn, Columbo, and Maggie Simpson.
- What is your favorite four legged creature?
It’s really hard to pick just one critter to be my favorite, but I think elephants are incredible.
- If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
Ken Burns’ Jazz documentary because it’s a 10-parter and I watch like 1 movie a year, so that would last me awhile.
- What are your top three favorite movies?
I truly don’t have even a top one movie, but three that I’ve enjoyed in the past are Raising Arizona, Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse, and Kedi (a documentary about street cats in Istanbul).
- If your childhood had a smell, what would it be and why?
There were so many smells it was a veritable assault on my nose. I grew up near farms and a small trash company, and we also had possibly the gassiest dog to ever have lived. (Generally, I would call this cacophony of smells “Rural Pennsylvania.”)
- If you were given five million dollars to open a small museum, what kind of museum would you create?
A museum of lost things I find on the ground.
Thank you so much, Shannon, for all you do for the Department of Chemistry on a daily basis!