Conference Cameo: Kate Petcosky-Kulkarni

#NORDP2019 starts Monday, April 29, in Providence, RI. Keep checking back here at the blog and on our Twitter feed (@NORDP_official) for conference updates. Register at

Who: Kate Petcosky-Kulkarni, Director of Strategic Research Initiatives
Where: University of Oregon
Number of years in research development: 5
Length of NORDP membership: 1
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 1
What is the most interesting place you’ve visited? For our honeymoon, my spouse and I stayed at an old fort in Madya Pradesh, India, that was converted into a hotel. It was on a river, and we spent our days people-watching on beautiful ghats.

Like many of my peers, I essentially “fell into” research development. I initially pursued a traditional academic route and completed a Master’s in Food Studies from NYU with the intention of working for a few years before applying for a PhD program in anthropology or sociology. I worked for a small non-profit that supported refugee and immigrant farmers for a few years, and discovered that I wanted to ask questions about food studies through a more applied focus, rather than strictly academic. I enrolled in Boston University’s Masters in Public Health program and began working in the proposal development office at BU’s medical school; I  found that my career path and training prepared me well to support faculty with their grant submissions. I could manage multiple projects simultaneously and communicate effectively for a variety of audiences. I found that I enjoyed being able to help faculty across disciplines articulate their research ideas, rather than pursue one specific line of research myself. Kate-Petcosky-Kulkarni-Square

After two years, due to the support of a fantastic boss and mentor, I became Director of the Office of Proposal Development. Our team largely managed traditional pre-award functions, but I recognized the need to help our faculty learn how to navigate the research enterprise and be strategic in their approach to seeking external funding. I discovered NORDP in 2018 when I was researching best practices in early career faculty training. The conference was fantastic—much more personal and engaging than the research administration workshops I had attended in the past. I left the conference invigorated with new ideas for supporting our faculty. Indeed, had I not attended the NORDP conference, I would not have had the confidence to apply for my current position as Director of Strategic Research Initiatives at University of Oregon.

I joined UO this October to launch the Office of Research Development, which was in the middle of a major staffing transition. The office had been unstaffed for 4 months and I was brought on to build the team from the ground up. It’s an incredible opportunity and I look to NORDP for support and ideas on a regular basis. The listserv is beyond helpful and the NORDP community is smart, engaging, and supportive.

I am very much looking forward to this year’s conference and the opportunity to connect in person with many of my peers who have provided insight and guidance to me by e-mail or by phone. My new role involves operations that I did not previously coordinate at BU, such as managing internal awards and facilitating limited submissions. I am eager to learn how my peers approach this work and how they evaluate these activities. As my office moves in a new direction, I need to demonstrate efficacy in our approach, so I will be having many conversations about metrics and evaluation.

I am thrilled to be a part of the NORDP community, and I cannot wait to attend the 2019 conference!


Visit the NORDP Store online now through March 15! 

We hope to see you at the Conference, which will be held April 29 – May 1, 2019, at the Omni Providence Hotel in Providence, RI. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest #NORDP2019 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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