Nancy Kechner: Librarian for Biology and Biomedical Engineering 

Subject Liaisons are librarians who focus on specific topics. They have a robust knowledge of library resources and are happy to assist with research and answer questions, large and small!

Today we’re interviewing Nancy Kechner.

Subject Specialties

  • Biology
  • Biomedical Engineering

Contact: | | (434) 249-2808 | Visit Brown Library (Clark Hall) i-043

What are some of the specific ways you can help people learning and working in your subject specialty area(s)?

  • Nancy Kechner

    Offering one-on-one sessions with students or faculty

  • Staying current on the literature
  • Getting Google alerts on hot topics that our faculty are working on
  • Offering to help work with their data and analyze and visualize their findings
  • Reading the abstracts of the journal articles our faculty are publishing
  • Contacting the different student clubs dedicated to my subjects, and offering to do Q & A sessions for them on their time

What’s a key message you’d like people at UVA to know about the Library?

The library has SO much to offer all sectors of the UVA community, but oftentimes folks don’t know the breadth of the resources. When you tell someone that “you can get [insert great service here] from the library”, they normally say “I had NO idea the library does that!”

If someone comes to you for help, what does that look like?

I’ve worked in all manners with faculty, students, and staff. These are rarely one-shot deals. A typical research journey might look like this:

  • Student is in a capstone class and wants to find out if local gardens in low-income housing actually lead to better health outcomes,
  • We meet, discuss how to survey the population, including sampling methods, and how to get buy-in from the community,
  • We design the survey together with the student sending me the test surveys to assess questioning and survey flow,
  • The student gets the surveys out, and gets the results,
  • We download the data, clean it, analyze it in SPSS, and then we visualize it using either Tableau (if interactive is desired) or charts in Excel,
  • This is a semester long journey together.

What are some research challenges you enjoy?

I enjoy every aspect of academic research! I’m a real data geek, and actually enjoy working with faculty and students, cleaning data, and helping them get the story their data tells out to the community in the most interesting and understandable way! My PhD is in Physiology, so I really enjoy Biology/BME/medical research. I’ve actively worked doing biomedical research for nearly 20 years, so I’ve “lived” there and understand the process quite well.

What’s something interesting you’ve found in the course of your work?

I am always blown away by how sharp and creative our undergrads are! I’ll go into a meeting thinking they want low level help, but what they actually want is grad-level advice. They are incredible!

What’s a resource you think people in your subject area(s) aren’t very aware of, but would find useful?

Two things:

  1. com, and
  2. Safari Tech Books Online

When I tell groups about these free resources from the library, they are gob smacked at how awesome these tools are!

What’s a recent book you’ve read that you’d recommend?

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

What’s a place or an activity you enjoy in Charlottesville?

I love walking the trails on O Hill with my dogs.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I love everything about my job. I’m pretty much the flower lady—people come in with questions and problems that worry them. I help them find the answers, and they are happier than before they came in.

Is there anything else you’d want people to know about you?

  • I’m a proud “Double ‘Hoo”
  • I’m also the women’s rugby coach, and have volunteer coached the UVA Women for 22 years and counting. We are a perennial Top 10 D1 Team!
  • I have Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, and a Rat Terrier. Rex is a therapy dog with me at UVA Hospital where we visit patients
  • My other Swissy, Teddy, was named after Teddy Roosevelt, is a Champion in conformation, and is working on learning to pull a cart

A large dog looks at the camera while leaning near a jar of treats

A large dog in a bandana sits patiently on the UVA Lawn


Enthusiastic endorsements…

“When I first contacted Nancy about our YSI research class, she immediately offered to help in any way possible. She presented 2 sessions in our class; the first on research survey best practices and creating a strong survey in Qualtrics. The second class she instructed the class on how to get the raw data from the surveys, how to clean the data, and then finally, how to analyze the data using SPSS. She was a great help, and even met with my students one-on-one if they had any issues.” -Youth & Social Innovation Faculty 

Visit Nancy’s staff directory page. 

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