Conference Cameo: Sarah E. Robertson

#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. 


Who:  Sarah E. Robertson, PhD, Director, Office of Sponsored Projects and Research
Where: University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
Number of years in research development: 5
Length of NORDP membership: 3
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 2
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?: Scientist – I was fascinated with the natural world and microscopes.

When I’m talking about my research development career, I’m never quite sure where to start. Like so many others I’ve met through NORDP, I stuck my toe into the water of research development while in previous positions. After finding NORDP and spending time with the other amazing members, I’ve found that our identities as research development professionals coalesce.

SarahRobertson-headshotAs the go-to reviewer for the applications and articles of my grad school classmates at Penn, I found that I loved reading about various areas of research, not focusing just on my protein of interest. After graduation, I found my way to the American Association for Cancer Research where I wore many hats, including grant writer and review committee administrator. I then went on to another cancer research foundation to manage their grant portfolio. In this role, I did everything from RFA creation to peer review to awarded grant oversight. Having those close experiences with grant applications made me fall in love with the early phase of research: the time when a PI can dream about what they want to do and how to do it. It also allowed me to continue to have broad exposure to many types of research.

However, after serving in a Program Officer/Sponsored Research Officer role for many years, I became frustrated with seeing good science go unfunded—especially when it went unfunded for errors I could have fixed! I also wanted to be able to talk with the researchers more often, so I decided to move back to academia where I could directly help PIs improve their applications.  University of the Sciences in Philadelphia has fulfilled my desire to build strong relationships with my faculty and has exposed me to even more areas of research.

As USciences is a PUI, my office is small and we provide both research administration and research development services. The NORDP annual meeting has been a great resource for me to build our trainings and tools. Since I do not devote all my time to research development, it has been invaluable to have that time to focus, learn new skills, network and bring back different ideas to try with applicants. Everyone I have met through NORDP has been extremely generous with their time and knowledge. I strongly encourage attendees to go to the networking dinners and other events where you can meet someone new. You never know what you will learn next!


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, 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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