Alaina Levine's work could be labeled in a lot of ways: scientist, businesswoman, teacher, comedian, public relations specialist, administrator.
But she wraps them all into one category: entrepreneur.
Levine, 31, is a project director at the University of Arizona's College of Science, where she also teaches a class on entrepreneurship for graduate students.
She came to the UA from New Jersey to study math and archaeology, but after graduation she realized that "I'd rather be the one igniting the fire of interest in science in other people," she said.
Levine helped launch a master's degree program in applied science and business for physics graduate students. She advises students in the program and also provides public relations and other support for the department. Levine figures she mentors around 75 people a year.
She also administers a class for science graduate students who are interested in learning business skills to help them start their own businesses. She designed the class in 2004 and was named an Eller Entrepreneurial Scholar by the UA's Eller College of Management.
Levine recruited Kirt Gardner — a local entrepreneur who is currently on the board of Apta Software in Tucson — to help coach the students and to review their business models. Gardner said Levine is positive and energetic, and brings her sense of humor to the class.
"She's got a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, she's good with people in the class, and she really tries to make them become more accomplished in business," Gardner said.
On the side, Levine runs her own small business, Quantum Success Solutions. She does public relations and "corporate comedy."
She has always liked performing and making people laugh, she said. So when she noticed people were always bored and reluctant at workplace training classes, she decided she could fill a niche market for entertaining training.
Some of her workshops include "Success Bling Bling: How to be a Career Advancement Diva" and "It's Not Just About the Benjamins, Baby: Teambuilding and Leadership to Ignite Positive Change."
"I really enjoy making people laugh," Levine said. "I see it as a challenge."
She has given about 350 presentations nationwide in about three years, including some close to home at Intuit Inc. Because the audiences are so different, Levine tailors each presentation and includes changes that can be made immediately to improve success.
Her best advice is to always look for opportunities.
"Some will lead you to failure, and failure is fabulous," Levine said. "Failure is the best way to learn."
Levine was honored for her own successes when she was named 2006 Leader of the Year by Greater Tucson Leadership in May.
She said she felt privileged and humbled to be among past years' winners. Recent honorees include U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona and Tanis Salant, director of the UA Institute for Local Government.
She said she would like to follow their examples of being the kind of leader who enables others to improve themselves.
Lea Marquez-Peterson, executive director of Greater Tucson Leadership, said Levine was chosen because of her "exemplary community service."
"She's got an engaging personality," Marquez-Peterson said, "and once you meet her, you understand why people call her a PR queen."
SEE on the job / D5
Name: Alaina Levine
Job: Director of special projects and the Professional Science Master's Program, University of Arizona College of Science
Friday On the Job focuses on the people who make Tucson businesses run — those who are in charge, keep a business running, are just starting out or hire workers.