2016 Conference Cameo: Deborah Rocha

Who: Deborah S. Rocha, Research Development Specialist
Where: Indiana University,Rocha_Deborah Bloomington
Number of years in research development: about 8
Length of NORDP membership: 8 years
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 1

I have a graduate degree in Systems Science and a passion for the kind of problem solving that can come out of interdisciplinary research, and I’ve come to see this as a natural pathway into RD work. My first RD position was with an academic department that was expanding traditional boundaries in exciting new and interdisciplinary directions. From 2008 to 2012, I was their point of contact for proposal related questions, identified relevant funding opportunities, reviewed and edited proposal content, delivered informational workshops, and created and maintained an informational website.

In 2013, I started working with Proposal Development Services (PDS) in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR) at IUB. My work is campus wide now and includes comprehensive project management of complex grant proposals, as well as general proposal support. This typically involves reviewing and editing proposals for content, structure, and grantsmanship. I’m happy to be included in larger vision and planning conversations within the OVPR as well. I also provide individual consultations to faculty who are developing projects for which they plan to seek external funding, and help develop and deliver informational workshops and specialized seminars.

In late 2008 I joined the listserv Holly Falk-Krzesinski launched out of Northwestern University that grew soon thereafter into NORDP. The collegiality has been really important to me ever since. During the first part of that year, supporting great research was a clear goal for me, but I hadn’t yet seen it as research development. NORDP has provided me with both a network and a framework for realizing RD as a career.

Attending the 2015 NORDP conference with hundreds of others who do similar work, many of whom have similar stories, was validating and exciting. I came away with a terrific mentor and an invaluable safety net of colleagues to turn to for feedback when I’m working on something new.

So much of what I learned from NORDP comes into play routinely in my work; specific examples include looking more closely at evaluating RD using metrics and surveys, and adjusting how I critique and offer feedback on faculty proposals. I’m looking forward to this year’s conference themes of creativity and interdisciplinarity, to the presentations around those themes, and to the interactive workshops.

My advice for first time attendees: Be willing to ask for help. The community is generous and happy to share experience and knowledge. Be assured that your opportunity to help others will come around, and grab it when it does. Attend all the sessions you can, and as much as possible mingle, listen, and share.


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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