Dan Flaherty keeps the Transmission Electron Microscopes and various instrumentation operating smoothly at the Materials Characterization Facility. His background as a field service engineer for one of the world’s premier manufacturers of electron microscope peripheral instrumentation made him a perfect fit for the role 3 years ago when he joined the team. To no surprise, there’s more to Dan than his knowledge of microscopy—next time you see him, don’t hesitate to ask about his international travels.
What does a day in the life of a Materials Characterization Facility specialist look like?
Diverse. I work with a lot of different students and users, and most days we have to overcome challenges with how to best utilize the equipment.
How did you get involved with MCF?
I worked for Gatan, a manufacturer of peripheral equipment to enhance tha capabilities of the electron microscope. I worked a number of roles for 26 years and I used to come to the MCF to service the labs from time to time. I was pleased when the former director of MCF offered me my current position. It is a fun and rewarding position.
What pieces of equipment do you use the most often? Do you have a favorite?
I use the TEMs most often. My favorite is the Tecnai since it is a workhorse and very versatile.
MCF is open to everyone and the staff is always here to help.Dan Flaherty, Materials Characterization Facility Specialist
What's your favorite part about working at MCF?
It’s a low stress environment and I really enjoy working with the students and the rest of the MCF team. Everyone gets along so well.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about MCF?
How accessible it is. The instruments are open to everyone and the staff is always here to help.
What do you like to do away from MCF?
I spend a lot of time with my wife and son, traveling to my son’s varying sporting events. I also enjoy restoring our vintage 1890’s home on the North Side, and running. I’ve done about a dozen marathons.
What’s one fun fact people might not know about you?
I used to be a Junior Tamburitzan at a young age. I grew up amongst a Croatian family (I'm not Croatian) but became involved in the singing/dancing/instrumental aspect of the culture. I traveled and performed at a young age at festivals throughout the US and Canada. We actually did a three city tour in Yugoslavia one year. I was very fortunate to have this experience and it piqued my interest in travel which translated well to my previous position as a field service engineer traveling internationally.
I also ate ant larvae in Thailand - surprisingly, it tasted like rice!