NORDP 2018 Conference Cameo: Melinda Laroco Boehm

#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: Melinda Laroco Boehm, Ph.D.| Senior Research Development Officer
Where: University of California, Merced
Number of years in research development: 3
Length of NORDP membership: 3
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 3. This year will be my 4th NORDP Conference. My first day on the job was at the 2015 conference in Bethesda!
Favorite Book: Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning

My road to becoming a Research Development Officer was an unexpected surprise. I was trained at an R1 institution and completed my Ph.D. in 2014, while my family and I were stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia. We were slotted to be there another few months, then move cross-country to my husband’s next duty station in California. I spent those months perusing job opportunities; all the while exuding a lot of effort trying to convince myself that I did want to fulfill my expected destiny down a tenure-track path.MLB Headshot 4.2018

One colleague asked me, “If you could make up your ideal position, what would it be?” My response was, “I want to continue to work in a deadline-driven, academic setting, with students, researchers, and community stakeholders, strategizing ways to solve research problems. Does this even exist?” Low and behold, I saw a call for a “Research Development Officer” position, with a contact of Susan Carter. After I interviewed and accepted the position, Susan flew me back cross-country, where my first official day on the job began at the 2015 NORDP Conference. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it since.

As an RDO at UC Merced, I work with teams of faculty on narrative development and strategy, solicitation interpretation, consultative assistance on finding new opportunities, and making connections with agency and foundation program officers. Our office also provides grantsmanship and faculty development trainings.

What I enjoy most about attending NORDP conferences is learning: learning from others, learning new strategies and ideas, and also relearning different approaches to classic RD techniques. I enjoy seeing colleagues who have become friends and meeting new colleagues. It’s also refreshing to be in a different setting with UC Merced colleagues. We often times discuss how we can take innovative ideas we’ve learned and customize those ideas to fit the needs of our campus.

For other attendees, I suggest reviewing the program ahead of time and tentatively mapping out your conference. I encourage you to attend dinners and take advantage of networking opportunities. Lastly, volunteer your time, even a little bit, and join a committee. The informal mentoring and conversations I’ve had with NORDP colleagues through committee work has been invaluable to my growth as an RD professional. There are a lot of ways to stay involved in NORDP, whether that be via webinar attendance or listserv participation, but I always see conference attendance as an investment in my professional growth and my university’s investment in strengthening my skillset.


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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