NORDP NE 2015 Summer Conference at Brown University

by Caitlin McDermott-Murphy, Harvard University and Kathy Cataneo, University of New Hampshire

The NORDP Northeast Regional group (NORDP NE) held a full-day conference at Brown University in Providence, RI on July 27, 2015. The group welcomed 59 attendees, representing 18 institutions and all New England states. Special thanks go to Amy Carroll, Brown University’s Director of Research Development, her staff, and David Savitz, Brown’s Vice President for Research, for their hospitality.

Because NORDP NE values the wide range of perspectives, experiences, institutions, and RD offices represented at our conferences and meetings, we emphasize interactive, discussion-based sessions that provide room for debate and problem solving. An important aspect of this and previous NORDP NE conferences is the opportunity to connect, which can lead to: sponsor programming made available across our New England institutions, shared resources (e.g., funding newsletters), shared best practices (e.g., metrics-gathering methods), and a level of comfort when reaching out to point-people for specific RD questions, such as how and when to hire external consultants.

As with NORDP NE’s past conferences, the July 2015 gathering featured keynote guest speakers, six different topic-specific sessions with expert panelists and group discussion, themed lunch roundtable discussions, and a business meeting. Following the conference, many attendees stayed to enjoy networking over appetizers and drinks.

Keynote speakers Savitz and Lawrence Larson (Brown University’s Dean of Engineering) offered valuable high-level perspectives on the importance of Research Development to not just individual faculty members but also to the larger institution. The RD role is especially important when it comes to large-scale future planning needed to grow modern universities. Dr. Savitz called Research Development a “connecting field,” and described it as the art of adapting strategies to pursue and win funding. With an increasing emphasis on the “research + education” model, Research Development professionals offer important support to assimilate faculty needs with institutional needs.


Following the key-note address, the July conference offered the following topic-specific sessions:

Career Strategies for Developing the Next Generation of Research Leaders

Karen Drew, Northeastern University; Carol Inman, Independent Consultant; Anne Windham, Brown University

Evaluating Research Development: Metrics and Satisfaction Surveys

Jennifer Corby, Harvard University; Sarah Marina, Tufts University; Loren Walker, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Strategic Support for Faculty to Determine the Best Funding Opportunities

Erin Cromack and Caitlin McDermott-Murphy, Harvard University

It Takes a Campus…To Submit a Proposal

Brown University’s Tristan Barako (Research Development), Patrice Carroll (Sponsored Projects), Brian Demers (Technology Ventures), Catherine Nellis (Foundation Relations), and Douglas Wilkie (School of Engineering)

Government Relations as a Research Development Partner

Amy Carroll, Brown University; Rele Ritter, Office of U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island

Creating a Research Development Office or Function at Your Institution

Kathy Cataneo, University of New Hampshire


And, the conference’s roundtable lunch topics covered the following:

  • Broader Impacts Summit Debrief, Facilitator: Barbara Pearson, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Exploring Regional Collaborations, Facilitator: Tristan Barako, Brown University
  • Incentivizing Research, Facilitator: David Savitz, Brown University
  • General Networking, All others

At the general business meeting, the NORDP NE Chair Kathy Cataneo and the Advisory Committee introduced an organization chart and position descriptions (modeled on NCURA regional positions) for the Past Chair, Chair, Chair Elect, Communications Coordinator, Membership Coordinator, and Secretary. Attendees agreed to transition NORDP NE into a more formal organization with defined roles and responsibilities, a succession plan, and opportunities for professional development through service to the regional group. The Advisory Committee intends to hold elections in 2015-16 in order to fill these positions prior to the next NORDP national conference.

For the first time since NORDP NE’s inception, we evaluated the impact of each individual July 2015 conference session and asked attendees to complete a brief survey before departing the conference venue. The sessions deemed most helpful were those on government relations and strategic support to faculty. And, the most salient topics proposed for future conferences and meetings include:

  • Funding trends and policies, presented by agency representatives
  • Project management: strategic planning and project management tools
  • RD office development: tangible tools for RD professionals
  • Collaboration: working with other university units or functions

NORDP Northeast extends a big “thank you” to NORDP National for their continued support and leadership. We also welcome questions from burgeoning RD groups in other regions, and look forward to (re)connecting with all of our colleagues in Orlando in May 2016.

2016 Conference Cameo: Marley Bauce

More than 300 research development professionals will be gathering in Orlando this May for the 2016 NORDP Conference. Will you be joining us? Register at, and enjoy this week’s featured Conference Cameo!

Who: Marley Bauce, Manager of Research Initiatives, Office of the Executive Vice President for Research
Where: Columbia UniversityMB Headshot
Number of years in research development: 7
Length of NORDP membership: 2 years
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 1

I run the Research Initiatives in Science & Engineering (RISE) program, the largest seed funding competition for Columbia faculty, which provides introductory support for interdisciplinary research collaborations that cannot receive conventional funding because they are too preliminary, too risky, or too non-conforming. In addition, I help administer limited submission competitions for the University, and maintain a number of communications capacities, including authoring articles on interdisciplinary scientific research for The Record, Columbia’s largest internal newspaper, and producing my office’s semiannual newsletter. Finally, I coordinate large events, including faculty networking receptions, information sessions, proposal writing workshops, and promotional campus visits by government agencies. The remaining pieces of my work revolve around opportunistically and creatively establishing new ways to competitively advance Columbia’s stature with the extramural research funding world – a task that I enjoy immensely.

I began my career as the Manager of the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, a funding competition jointly run by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences. I helped expand the awards program from a regional to a national competition in 2013, wherein I was chiefly responsible for the communications plan, recruitment of senior judges and the Science Advisory Council, and development of application and evaluation materials.

Early into my time at Columbia, Susan Gomes, Harvard University’s Director of Research Development & Strategy within the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, encouraged me to join NORDP, and I’m terribly glad I did. Last year’s NORDP conference allowed me to develop relationships with other RD staff and begin sharing ideas for best practices and identifying common challenges. It was useful to understand various university structures – their unique reporting lines, data management techniques, extra-institutional partnerships, and indirect cost agreements.  The NORDP conference was an exceptional way of recognizing that I am not an island, but rather part of a larger community of professionals deeply committed to increasing the diversity, momentum, and traction of interdisciplinary research for the public good.  Last year, I attended a presentation about merging foundation relations with research; it provided me with a new perspective on collaborating and establishing constant communications lines with our foundation relations staff, particularly while we engage the W.M. Keck Foundation.

Together with Susan Gomes, I co-lead the new Ivy Plus Research Development Group, containing 20 members across seven institutions. We met at last year’s conference and will meet again for a half day before this year’s conference. I encourage all conference attendees to take full advantage of the conference features – workshops, dinners, networking receptions, etc. This is a rare critical mass of people who can help and be helped by you, so don’t waste the opportunity!

We hope to see you at the 2016 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held May 23-25 in Orlando, FL. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest 2016 Conference updates.

If you’d like to be featured in a Conference Cameo, let us know at


Applications now being accepted for the NORDP Mentor Program

Are you looking for an opportunity for professional development? Do you have wisdom to share with new research development professionals? Consider becoming a NORDP mentor.

The Mentor Program is a great opportunity for NORDP members to connect with colleagues over their specific professional interests, share their professional experiences and stories, and develop lasting individual relationships with fellow members within our broad national network.

We particularly encourage anyone who has had a mentor in the past to apply to be a mentor to our newer members, or to participate both as mentors and mentees. New this year is also the opportunity to join small Community of Practice groups that bring together people with a similar set of specific discussion interests. Mentoring pairs and CoP groups will be matched using the same on-line application.

The deadline for applications will close on April 4, so don’t delay! Find all the details on the Mentor Program web page.

2016 Conference Schedule Posted!

Today we bring you a 2016 NORDP Conference update – The full conference schedule, including presentation titles and presenter names, is now posted online to assist you with planning your visit to Orlando in May.

With more than 100 oral presentations and Idea Showcase posters confirmed, the 2016 NORDP Conference will provide an unparalleled forum for advancing the field of research development. If you haven’t already registered, it’s not too late! Register today and be sure to secure a hotel room at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando at the special, discounted NORDP rate.

We invite all who have interest in research development to follow @NORDP_official on Twitter and to use the #NORDP2016 hashtag before, during and after the conference to promote research development and our community.

We can’t wait to see you in Orlando May 23-25!

2016 Conference Cameo: Mary Sym

Research development professionals from all regions of the U.S. – and abroad! – will be converging on Orlando in just 10 weeks for the 2016 NORDP Conference. Register at, and enjoy this week’s featured Conference Cameo, which comes to us from Princeton University.

Who: Mary Sym, PhD, Assistant Director, Project Development
Where: Princeton University
Number of years in research development: 2.5
Length of NORDP membership: 2 years
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 2

More than 10 years ago, I began working in research administration, but we did not have Mary Sym_2016the phrase “research development” in our lexicon. Federal funding agencies were busy launching several large-scale initiatives geared toward interdisciplinary team science. Although many faculty were interested in participating, at the time, our university did not have dedicated staff or resources to support these kinds of projects. I was asked to bring teams of interested scientists together and help develop competitive applications for these funding initiatives.

After a few years working in big pharma, I circled back to academic research administration here at Princeton. My supervisor told me about NORDP and it sounded like the perfect venue for getting up to speed on the research development landscape, which has grown and matured tremendously in the past decade.

As a NORDP member, I have enjoyed talking with other research development professionals to learn how similar many of our struggles and, more importantly, our solutions can be across a wide range of universities. Sharing best practices has been incredibly insightful.

My advice to first-time conference attendees: Bring a colleague or two so you can split up your office’s coverage of the concurrent sessions. When I went solo in the past, I had a hard time deciding which session to attend since so many were relevant and interesting.

I’m glad the conference is in Florida this year. In New Jersey, we recently had a blizzard that dumped over two feet of snow on us. I am definitely looking forward to the warm, sunny climate!

We hope to see you at the 2016 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held May 23-25 in Orlando, FL. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest 2016 Conference updates.

If you’d like to be featured in a Conference Cameo, let us know at

2016 Conference Cameo: Nathan Meier

Don’t miss your opportunity to learn from and network with the largest gathering of research development professionals anywhere – register for the 2016 NORDP Conference today at Nearly 300 RD professionals already are registered! A new Conference Cameo from one of them, Nathan Meier, is posted below.

Who: Nathan Meier, Director of Research Strategy, Office of Research and Economic Development
Where: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Number of years in research development: 13
Length of NORDP membership: 5 years
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 3

I have been “doing” research development since 2003, when I joined the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) as a proposal writer specialist. Over time, my portfolio hNathan Meier head shotas grown to include a range of responsibilities that I enjoy but that I am careful to ensure supplement rather than supplant my core skill set, which has proposal writing at its center. This is important because I believe most research development efforts will be wasted if we cannot ensure faculty have the support necessary to develop high quality, well-written grant proposals.

On any given day, you may find me facilitating external review, managing internal seed grant programs, supporting selection processes for limited submission competitions, organizing workshops or retreats to help catalyze interdisciplinary connections or to help faculty network with external partners, linking faculty with UNL’s proposal development staff, assisting with a faculty award nomination, facilitating a faculty development initiative, or working on something entirely new. Like so many of you, what I love most about my job is the fact that no two days are ever alike!

I subscribed to the NORDP listserv several years ago and became a member in 2011. I attended the conference in Austin, attended and presented at NORDP in Portland, and helped with abstract review and marketing leading up to and presented at the meeting last year in Bethesda. What I enjoy most about the annual conferences is the sense of community that has evolved over time. Finally, it seems, there is a professional home for those of us who do this type of work.

This year, I am really interested to see how the focus on creativity and innovation coalesces during the May meeting. As you think about registering for the conference in Orlando, I encourage you to consider inviting a colleague to attend, too. Since there is such a wealth of information shared each year, I have found that one of the best ways to maximize the time spent at the annual meeting is to ensure at least one other individual with whom I work also participates so we can discuss new ideas and approaches once we are back in the office.

We hope to see you at the 2016 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held May 23-25 in Orlando, FL. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest 2016 Conference updates.

If you’d like to be featured in a Conference Cameo, let us know at