NORDP 2018 Conference Cameo: Dana Desonie

#NORDP2018 starts Monday, May 7 in Arlington, VA. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for live conference updates. Register here:

Who: Dana Desonie, Proposal Manager
Where: Arizona State University
Number of years in research development: 3+
Length of NORDP membership: 3
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 2
What is the most interesting place you’ve visited? The bottom of the ocean in the research submersible Alvin.

The road to a career in research development rarely does run smooth.

In the beginning – that is, sophomore year of high school – there was the awe I experienced when I discovered that people actually understood the geologic processes that created Yosemite. I fell even more deeply in love when I discovered plate tectonics in my first college geology class. Unfortunately, later field courses revealed that my passion for science and the outdoors was not enough for me to be able to locate myself on a topographic map (my life might be very different if we’d had GPS in cell phones!). So I decided to take my interests on board a ship, where satellite navigation could tell us where we were, and I became a geological oceanographer.
Desonie Cropped

My doctoral and postdoctoral work brought me great opportunities to travel – Brazil, the Yucatan, the Azores, the Galapagos, and the Marquesas – and I loved it! My most exciting science moment was when our team discovered the Lucky Strike hydrothermal vent site, the third known vent field in the Atlantic. But the further along I got in research, the narrower my focus became. I was still most interested in large-scale scientific processes, and my friends told me that I wrote great letters. So, of course, I became a science writer!

For many years, I freelanced as a science writer, editor, and lesson developer. One of my main clients was Arizona State University (ASU), where I edited research proposals. I also wrote about environmental concerns, including a set of books for grades 6-12, Our Fragile Planet. When the freelance life felt too isolating, I joined ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability as a grant editor, a job that integrated environmental issues, science writing, and editing. My favorite part of my current position as proposal manager is helping young faculty navigate the crazy world of federal funding. That, and cutting wordy narratives in half!

I joined NORDP in my second year at ASU. The greatest benefit I received from my first conference in 2016 was getting to know the other RD professionals from ASU. Those contacts have made my daily work so much friendlier and easier. At my second conference, we took it further and networked with our counterparts from the two other Arizona universities. After each conference, I’ve brought back valuable lessons to my co-workers that enrich our ability to do our work well.


We hope to see you at the Conference, which will be held May 7-9, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, VA.  For more information about the conference program or to register, visit Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2018 updates.

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

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