NORDP 2015 Conference Cameos: Jessica Venable

Who: Jessica Venable, Coordinator, Research Development Services
Where: Virginia Commonwealth University
Number of years in research development: 16 (Was it called “research development” back then?)
Length of NORDP membership: 4
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 4
My first foray into research development, well before I had even heard the term, was when I was a graduate student intern at NASA Langley Research Center. The Associate Director of the Education Division handed me a giant book of grants the center had made in the past fiscal year. He said my project was to survey faculty, postdocs, and graduate students about their experiences working on these sponsored programs. My first question: “What’s a sponsored program?”

Fifteen years later, I am in the position of responding to that question for researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Since the answers are so critical faculty professional development and VCU’s success, I have to come up interesting, creative, and compelling ways to impart the fundamentals of grantsmanship. And if I am to help keep the faculty competitive, I have to stay sharp, well-informed, and ahead of the trends. I certainly can’t do that by myself from Richmond, VA!

 I serve as the Coordinator for Research Development Services in VCU’s central office of research and am charged with assisting faculty in all disciplines targeting all funders. I readily admit the limits of my expertise, so I was thrilled to learn that there was an organization of research development professionals to pool and share resources. Thanks to the RD conferences, an entire community of experts has inspired VCU’s yearlong, campus-wide grantwriting bootcamps: the CAREER Academy and the Grantwriting Institute.

 For me, the NORDP 2015 conference will be all about the hallway conversations. My office is refining some of its programs, so I’ll look to my fantastic NORDP member colleagues for their best strategies, best advice, and good humor. Like Bob McDonald said, the annual meeting is where it’s at!

It’s not too late to attend the 2015 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held April 29 to May 1 in Bethesda, MD. More information about the conference program and registration info available here.

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