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 http://www.nordp.org/conferences, 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 http://www.nordp.org/conferences. 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 rdconf@nordp.org.

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