Portrait of Daniel Segel
With most students, faculty and staff coming back to campus this fall, Daniel Segel and his team are ensuring that the technical side of UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services runs smoothly.

Alum uses M.B.A. to benefit others during the pandemic

Keeping students healthier so they can make the world a better place

COVID-19 testing saves lives

  • UC Davis was honored for ‘Research Response to Community Crisis,’ recognizing Healthy Davis Together and testing program, by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in July
  • The saliva testing program started on Sept. 14, 2020 to all students and employees and has expanded to all residents of Davis through HDT in Dec. 2020
  • The UC Davis Genome Center has tested more than 100,000 COVID-19 saliva samples at present

There’s an Ag for That

This article is part of an ongoing series about the impact UC Davis alumni are making in our world.

Helping the community fight against COVID-19 became a family affair for the Segels. Daniel Segel M.B.A. ’96 is the information technology manager at UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) and ensures the safety of university members through a health record system. His wife, Barbara Archer, is the communications and customer service manager for the city of Davis and has kept the community informed throughout the pandemic; and his son Everett works with Healthy Davis Together at the testing sites.

“It’s a good feeling knowing that you’re working on something that actually benefits people versus just supplying them with a service like when I worked for a telecom company,” Segel said. “With my current job, I feel like my team and I are actually contributing towards making the world a better place.” 

Segel and his team set up the technology UC Davis uses for mass, on-campus COVID testing and vaccination, which helped control the spread of COVID-19 and kept the positivity rate in the community lower than the national average. He also runs UC Davis’ Health-e-Messaging system; a service available primarily to students at no charge that offers a variety of online options to streamline experiences with medical and mental health providers and other SHCS staff. Faculty and staff can the service to schedule testing or vaccine appointments and check lab results.

“I decided what equipment and technology was needed for the campus testing program which includes barcode scanners to scan the saliva tubes and Chromebooks to enter data into our electronic health record system,” Segel said. 

He added that they also arranged for power and networking, meaning ensuring Wi-Fi access at the testing locations and setting up cellular hotspots in case the Wi-Fi goes down.

After successfully establishing the campus testing technology, Segel acted as a consultant for Healthy Davis Together as well as UC Merced so they could also buy equipment for COVID-19 testing purposes. He also helped staff at UC Merced configure their health record system for COVID-related reporting and to generate testing data that were sent to the UC Davis Genome Center for processing.

“Through SHCS, we’re directly helping students stay healthy and enabling them to achieve their academic goals and graduate,” Segel said. “Once these students leave campus, they will make a positive impact wherever they go.”

Protecting students and the community from the spread of COVID-19 is just one of the many perks in Segel’s job. He enjoyed exposing his family to all the research and discoveries UC Davis has to offer. Segel said he always knew he wanted to work with computers and technology but needed more experience in the field to get to where he is today.

Gaining new experiences at home base 

After graduating with a philosophy degree at UCLA, Segel worked in the computer industry as technical support but wanted to further his career. That’s when he decided the Graduate School of Management at UC Davis was the best fit for him. 

“The M.B.A. program gave me new skills, capabilities and connections to get my foot in the tech field,” Segel said “I gained broad exposure to different types of people and different types of businesses, and best of all, made lifelong friends.” 

Segel interned at Pacific Bell in Sacramento and worked on networking and upgrading computer systems. He later worked for a telecommunications company in Colorado, providing cell service before coming to UC Davis. He found his new job more fulfilling and loved the opportunity to raise his family in his hometown. 

“When my kids were little, I took them out to the Raptor Center and various greenhouses where they have plants from all over the world,” Segel said. “Once my kids found an owl that had been hit by a car and we took it to the Raptor Center so it could be rehabilitated.” 

The proud alum said he likes to support the university in its endeavors which is why he gave back to the Raptor Center. He remembers visiting campus as a kid with his parents, Irwin and Wiltraud, and learning about the different fields and student events. Irwin H. Segel is a professor emeritus in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Wiltraud Pfeiffer, who passed in 1993, taught in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. 

“Being able to see all sorts of departments on campus whether it’s about animals, arts, engineering or agriculture, especially when you’re younger, is fantastic because it can help you figure out your interests and future career,” Segel said. 

Although many visitors were limited on campus during the pandemic, Segel said his team is shifting back to the in-person service model.

“There’s substantial changes to the way people work and treat illnesses as a result of the pandemic and I don’t think it’s ever going to go back to the way it was,” Segel said. “My department's goal is to facilitate a smooth transition back to in-person work so we can all do our job successfully, easily, without any impediments, going forward in the future.”

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